Building Business With an Open Heart

Without question, Russia's rapidly expanding economy rewards the most active and responsive people. Driven by the commercial opportunities in front of us, we spend our days scanning the newspapers and news wires, pouring over balance sheets, tracking new laws and regulations, and thinking about logistics, customer service and innovation. Every day you read about a company opening a novel customer service program, implementing a new revolutionary IT system or launching a unique media platform.

However, this incessant round-the-clock drive to achieve results can be tiring if not exhausting. It also inevitably leads us to the more philosophical question of why we are so personally engaged and committed to our work. Making and exceeding financial targets both for the business and for oneself is never quite satisfying enough. As citizens, family members and simple human beings, it is important to see that our efforts are not merely directed at financial gain. The desire to improve our community is an essential component of the human experience.

We all have the possibility to individually seek out our own methods and means to improve our communities. I am in awe of some of my colleagues who find the time and energy in their hectic schedules to make major contributions of time and effort to their altruistic causes. Some choose to help orphanages, others children's hospitals and animal shelters. One thing is clear: For them, indifference is not an option.

Within the framework of The Moscow Times' program "Create Yourself," we have started a series of publications about people who, despite having serious health problems, have been able to find the power and desire to live and grow. Some of them have achieved things that even healthy people can only dream of. Here are two of them -- the others you can read at

The Create Yourself section did not involve the reporting or the editorial staff of The Moscow Times.

At the same time, thanks to their organizational capacities, businesses have the opportunity to make a positive impact in ways that individuals cannot. And with this opportunity comes a certain moral obligation, or what we call corporate social responsibility. While it may be difficult to draw a direct link between a business's results and its CSR program, there can be no question that in the long run commercial success is linked to the general well-being of the communities around us.

In 2007, Rolf Group launched a new initiative: "Business with an Open Heart." The aim of this program is to improve the lives of the less fortunate in our community. The pilot project of this program is called "Open Theater." Together with the Central House of Actors, we are working to make theater in Moscow and the region accessible for students, veterans of the stage and the physically disabled.

While modest in scale, we have selected one small area in which we can significantly improve the quality of life for people in need. This program has found real support among my colleagues as an initiative that resonates with their desire to help others and that matches our internal organizational capacity to implement it. We are actively seeking partnerships with other businesses to develop additional projects under the "Business with an Open Heart" initiative.

In a world where humans are increasingly becoming more businesslike, it is essential that businesses become more humanlike.