In Good Company: a think piece

Having just waded through the daily plethora of articles about ESG, Social Responsibility, purposeful business, etc, it struck me that a ‘business’ is being referred to as a single entity, and this got me thinking…

As we all know, language is a diverse and ever-evolving entity, and words can often have multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. So, let’s take a closer look at how the term ‘company’ is defined in the realms of business and community.

In the world of business, the term ‘company’ typically refers to a legal entity formed for the purpose of conducting business. This could be a small family-owned enterprise, a large multinational corporation, or anything in between. From a legal standpoint, a company is a separate and distinct entity from its owners, meaning that it has its own rights and liabilities. This is often referred to as the ‘corporate veil’, and it provides protection to the owners by limiting their personal liability for the company’s debts and obligations.

From a more practical perspective, a company is an organisation that brings together people, resources, and ideas to create products or provide services in exchange for a profit. It is a structured and formalised entity with defined roles and responsibilities, and it operates within the framework of laws and regulations that govern business activities. In essence, a company is a vehicle for economic activity, and it plays a crucial role in driving innovation, creating employment opportunities, and contributing to the overall growth of the economy.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the term ‘company’ in the context of community or a social gathering. In this setting, a company refers to a group of usually like-minded folk who come together for a specific purpose, such as socialising, celebrating, or simply spending time in each other’s company. This could be a casual get-together with friends, a formal dinner party, or even a corporate event where colleagues mingle and network outside of the office environment.

In a social context, the term ‘company’ is all about human connection and interaction. It’s about sharing stories, laughter, and experiences with others, and it plays a crucial role in fostering relationships and building community. Whether it’s a cozy night in with loved ones or a lively gathering with acquaintances, being in good company can lift our spirits, provide support, and create lasting memories.

So, what’s the point I want to make?  

A business, or any large employer for that matter, brings together a diverse range of individuals with professional skills, knowledge and expertise to work towards a common goal.  Those people show up to work every day with a wide range of opinions, world views and beliefs.  So, whilst the letterhead and livery might be uniform, is a business really a single entity?  I think not.

Next time you hear business (or community or government) referred to as a single entity, take a moment to consider the term ‘company’, and appreciate its dual nature – as both a cornerstone of economic activity and a catalyst for human connection. You might also like to ponder the notion of companies as communities and that the office is a new village green.  After all, whether we’re conducting business or enjoying leisure time, the power of company is always at play.

What are your thoughts on these two definitions of ‘company’? Do you see any other interesting parallels between the business and social aspects of this term? How does this relate to your work as an ESG professional, or as a non-profit trying to engage with a corporate partner?  Feel free to share your insights in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!


Ian Leader and Tom Newton-Smith

When you partner with Dot Two Dot, you get an ally and a team who believes in you and what you stand for.

We will stretch the boundaries and achieve more than you thought was possible.