07/17/2014 12:13 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2014

To All Corporations: This Is What People Mean When They Talk About Fairness

We are very preoccupied with the notion of fairness these days and it is only natural. Social Media has turned the world of communications upside down. As people, we've become accustomed to asking questions publicly, digging deeper and going past the advertising noise that bombards our senses every single waking minute.

This renaissance in the world of communications has signaled the beginning of a new reality to corporations. A reality that demands greater consistency and openness in communications, and a greater focus on FAIRNESS -- how business is conducted, and how society and people (from employees to customers) are enriched along the way.

Interestingly however, organizations don't seem to truly understand what consumers mean when they express a greater need for fairness (in the way a company operates). Even so, articles in the media often tend to turn conversations about fairness into the need for more effective Corporate Social Responsibility. And so we continue to see corporations spin their wheels in search of the right community programs and initiatives.

From the perspective of a researcher who has devoted his life to tracking and making sense of our culture, I can tell you that the notion of fairness is actually much simpler than that, and consequently often lost in the noise of everyday events.

When people talk about fairness, they are actually referring to wanting answers to three very simple questions (source: State of Public Discourse, 2014):

1. Is the company creating gainful employment in a local economy?
2. Is the organization supporting inventors, entrepreneurs, and pushing new and better ideas to the forefront?
3. Is this company providing better value to customers over time? Are they committed to self-improvement?

That is it.

When you think about fairness through this lens you realize that the solution is actually a lot simpler than what one had previously imagined. It is more authentic, real and more importantly, human. It allows a company to become self-aware, and focus on improving people's lives through its core competency first, before spending Millions (often Billions let's be honest!) in Corporate Social Responsibility projects that mean little to its various constituents.