Terrence Clark, SVP & GM of CA ecoSoftware at CA Technologies, writes about the importance of stakeholder communication in his latest blog post on the Energy & Sustainability Perspectives blog. Pulling from recent headlines in The Wall Street Journal – one about BP and its efforts in the gulf and the other on Nestle and its bottled water business - Terrence notes that stakeholder engagement is a critical element in corporate sustainability programs, calling out that “many companies talk about it, some companies pay lip service to it, and others actually use it to help guide their business strategy.”
Click here to read the full blog post and to weigh in with comments.
To learn more about CA Technologies’ energy, carbon and sustainability solutions, visit:
I like poker. It provides a fascinating insight into the human psyche. It mirrors life with a heavy dose of luck (of the draw), the application of types of IQ (emotional, intellectual, and relational), and nerve. I’m okay at poker and enjoy playing with friends. As a game it’s fun, but as a business methodology, it’s immoral. Poker is a zero-sum game. Someone wins only when someone else loses.
We recently returned from a fantastic conference in Boston held by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. People from all walks of life gathered together to share best practices and learn how to leverage resources, knowledge, and skills to address some of the most complex and prevalent issues facing our world. The speakers were insightful, the sessions were salient, and the food was ridiculous (I mean in a ridiculously good way).
This has to be one of the aspects of our work in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that we enjoy the most: collaboration. Competitors often come together to share information and build something greater together, but the businesses represented at the conference were not your typical altruistic tree huggers. They’ve just figured out the business advantage of sustainability: ever increasing markets.
Corporate Social Responsibility offers companies (those enlightened enough to see and act on it) the ability to increase marketshare by competing on growing mutual benefit. It is the antithesis of the zero-sum philosophy of competition.
By continuing to increase the health, education, and opportunities to contribute for people around the world, markets actually rise. When resources are replenished and managed properly, companies continue to have materials and resources to utilize. Every step that’s taken to contribute to the mutual benefit of all, via collaboration, increases the “pot of money” that’s on the table.
So how is this competitive? Simple. Companies that act as takers rather than contributors are increasingly reviled by consumers and stakeholders alike. The toleration for “business as usual” is waning. Even companies that held themselves up as standard-bearers for good CSR, but failed the test of ethics and transparency, are currently paying an unforgiving price. This message is reaching a crescendo all around us, from entertainment to the products we are using.
TOPIC: Power of the Hour: Transforming Inspiration into Action
Luncheon Presentation at CSR and Social Media 2010
WHEN: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 12:15 pm
Priority Code: 3BL1
Dorothy Engelman, Executive Director, GetInvolved.ca, and Senior Partner, q media solutions
GetInvolved.ca has entered in partnership with TVO, Volunteer Canada, and the Corporate Council on Volunteering to leverage the ability of social networks to motivate and connect for positive change. Power of the Hour is an online tool that helps individuals, groups, and businesses, large and small, pledge and track their volunteer hours. The online and television Power of the Hour campaign challenges Canadians to help reach a goal of 2,000,000 volunteer hours in 2010.
Building on the success of GetInvolved.ca, a social networking site built as an online companion to a 50 part TVO documentary series, Power of the Hour is motivating individuals, not-for-profits, charities, and community organizations to connect with one another and make a difference.
Hear from Dorothy Engelman, Executive Director of GetInvolved.ca and Senior Partner at q media solutions, about the launch and implementation of GetInvolved.ca and Power of the Hour. Learn more about how to promote engagement and facilitate collaboration with online social networks.
For more information on this session, or to see a copy of the full agenda, please visit our web site, or contact Joel Elliott at email@example.com. Please quote priority code 3BL1 when registering.
Once upon a time in a far off land of sea monsters and fairies, there was a man named Adam. Now Adam was not the First Man. He was, however, the first man in his society to write down his ideas of man controlling his own economic destiny without the heavy hand of kings. Adam was a moral man and wrote that one’s “enlightened self-interest” and innate moral code should guide him in all matters of money and commerce.
Yet man is a funny beast, Adam knew, and in case of a lapse in reason a guiding hand, “The Invisible Hand,” existed to override his less intelligent and unjust impulses. He put all of his fine words and moral sentiments down in a book that changed the western world. The Wealth of Nations was birthed in the same year of 1776 that a little rebel nation was born of its empirical British mother. America and Adam Smith’s free market capitalism grew up together.
Fairy tales inevitably have happy endings. Due to their simplistic nature, these tales usually close with, “And they lived happily ever after,” yet fail to finish the story. Adam Smith’s theory of “enlightened self-interest” presupposed an inner morality by its actors. Something many people simply don’t possess. His treatise was a tale of an idyllic world where the real story was yet to be written over the next two centuries.
Smith had a deep belief in a supreme intelligence that guided all things human and natural. When human reason failed, God or the Hand would intervene. Free markets according to laissez-faire capitalism’s father were dependant on a firm foundation of ethics. Smith wrote, “Markets could not flourish without a strong underlying moral culture, animated by empathy and fellow-feeling, by our ability to understand our common bond as human beings and to recognize the needs of others.”
Taking the “underlying” morality out of capitalism, Smith’s vision is unrecognizable. Without empathy, capitalism becomes the grotesque distortion revealed through the financial depravity of 21st century mortgage markets.
Two centuries after Smith’s theory went through bumps and starts, rejections and debate, it was embraced with gusto in another fairytale called, Atlas Shrugged, written by former Hollywood screenwriter Ayn Rand. In Rand’s lengthy and outdated sci-fi novel, protagonist John Galt is brutally electrocuted by the rulers of the “collective” hoping he will renounce his staunch belief in individualism over altruism. No matter what painful tortures he endures, he never fails to claim the moral superiority of self-interest.
The 1957 novel stirred up controversy between FDR adherents who believed economies and governments should serve the common good and materialists who believed as Rand did, that “selfishness” was a rational moral code to live by.
Rand’s radical theory was not so radical after all when seen in the big picture of American industrialism. Carnegie, Gould, Frick, Vanderbilt, Morgan and other 19th century moguls, dubbed Robber Barons, subscribed to a Darwinian theory of economy. The cream of money makers would inevitably rise to the top was their guiding principle. Near total anarchy dictated early industrial finance. Bribery, brutality and generally amoral conduct ruled the corporate roosts of the day. Yet despite this proven track record of destructive dog-eat-dog capitalism, Rand named it “virtuous.”
“Ayn Rand rejects altruism, the view that self-sacrifice is the moral ideal. She argues that the ultimate moral value, for each human individual, is his or her own well-being.”
Defining morality as “fundamental principles of right conduct“, Rands’ distorted understanding borders on sociopathic. Her complete lack of empathy and social obligation or conscience defies the modern view of “doing well by doing good.” So who really cares in the five decades since “Atlas Shrugged” for this clearly antiquated and hollow view? Why should any “enlightened” post-crisis citizen be concerned with an obviously flawed perspective? As remarkable as it may seem, everyone alive in America today is paying the price for this empty morality, simply because it was embodied in the High Priest of the Federal Reserve, Rand friend and student, Alan Greenspan.
In “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” a collection of rants from Rand and her lovers, Greenspan writes, “It is precisely the ‘greed’ of the businessman, or more appropriately his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer. What collectivists refused to understand is that it is in the ‘self-interest’ of every businessman to have a reputation of honest dealings and quality products” that regulates the markets.
Sadly, the two decade Fed Chief did not see the “fundamental flaw” in his model until after the financial system collapsed in the fall of 2008. “I made a mistake,” he told a stupefied Congress.
Rand, who personally experienced the Bolshevik Revolution and savage Soviet rule, believed the only way man could survive was to rule over himself. Greenspan bought the concept hook, line, and sinker, and did nothing as the competing self-interests of market moguls collided in a cataclysmic explosion heard round the world. We are still paying for his “mistake” and the unfortunate indoctrination of his belief in “self-interest” as sole market regulator. Too bad for America and the world that Alan Greenspan, with his naïve view of the innate genius of selfishness, was pulling the purse strings in the early 21st century.
The trouble with theories is that while they may be poetic on paper, in practice they often fail miserably. The Great Collapse of the U.S. financial system beginning with the government “sale” of Bear Stearns to rival JPMorgan and the 24 months of bailouts since prove that Rand’s theory of self-interest is inherently flawed. In October 2008 as former free market cheerleader U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson orchestrated the greatest government bailout in history, it was clear that capitalism was dead on arrival. Paulson’s request for $700bn (now growing into the trillions) was in effect a “do-not-resuscitate order” for Smith’s doctrine.
How did we get here, free marketers ask? What went so terribly wrong that self-preservation turned into the ugly face of self-destruction?
Leaving God or Divine Providence out of Smith’s theory, the treatise does not stand. It becomes the “survival-of-the-fittest anything goes” economic system that we know all too well. Smith’s theories were embraced by self-confessed atheists Milton Friedman, Rand, and Greenspan. With the absence of a higher power (the Hand) the theory is flat and requires expertise in behavioral psychology rather than economics.
Smith was brilliant for his time. All was new and exciting in 18th century Scotland, but two-hundred-year- old theories need adjustment for our times. Pure self-interest in reality is a dangerous beast capable of enslaving free people and impoverishing whole nations with impunity. The Protestant value system of Smith’s underlying morality is sadly missing in any modern practice of self-interested capitalism. Honor no longer has value in modern finance, nor does reputation matter enough to prevent deplorable acts of legal theft. Self-sacrifice as taught through the world’s religions is laughed at and ridiculed as unnecessary, even “evil,” by Rand and Greenspan. No one needs to sacrifice any of their personal needs or wants, proselytized Rand. The greedy took her words as the green light they had been waiting for. Aha! They thought, now we can climb our way ruthlessly to the top and name it virtue.
“Reason” was Rand’s God; only reason is not a thing set in stone, it is merely subjective to the individual. I can reason one thing and you another. We can be locked in a debate of rational thinking and remain worlds apart. Rand’s hero Galt declares, “To think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call ‘human nature,’ the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness…the connections of logic are not made by instinct.” No, they are indeed not instinctual. Logic is the product of the human mind. Human beings can rationalize anything- holocausts, suicide bombings, ethnic cleansing, slavery, child abuse, women’s subjugation, and economic tsunamis. Modern minds need to recognize that if we harm others in our society, we are in fact harming ourselves too. That “logic” was left out of the economic tsunami that killed America capitalism.
Leaving emotions and morality out of social structures like our economy defies our very humanness. The mind leads us in the world, yet it betrays us too. In our quest for perfect freedom, we forgot the fact that as humans we are far from perfection. We need a socially conscience legal framework to protect us from the destructive blind spots in our own logic.
Self-interest has to include a reasonable empathy for the greater society we operate in. If our theories don’t establish the necessity as Smith wrote to “understand our common bond as human beings and to recognize the needs of others,” they are not worth the paper they are printed on.
Fairy tales are nice, but they are after all only real for fairies.
Monika Mitchell is the Executive Director and Editor-in-chief of Good Business International, Inc. (GoodB). She writes regularly for the Good-B Blog.
Many leading organizations are embracing business sustainability as a means to gain a long-term competitive advantage. These organizations are adopting a more comprehensive definition and business sustainability that runs consistently through core business processes and aligns the interests of key stakeholders.
While executive support is a critical key component to business success, it is not the only form of leadership present in an organization. According to a recent study, top performing organizations view sustainability as a “must have” strategy for long term business viability and success. A defining characteristic of these organizations is a recognition and response to “pressures from stakeholders”.
Sustainable organizations understand the value in managing their key business relationships. They realize that a quality workforce, aligned with the goals of the organization, is essential to business sustainability. Whether led by a sustainability executive or traditional management, the pursuit of long-term business sustainability enables business stakeholders:
• Employees: Create incentives to lower costs, initiate process improvements, and stimulate innovation.
• Customers: Establish expectations that are defining products and service attributes.
• Suppliers: Align supply chain expectations to drive sustainable material requirements and efficiencies.
In both a corporate culture which encourages stakeholder engagement and a traditional setting, there are opportunities to further facilitate eco awareness across any organization.
In our sustainability consulting practice, we work with clients to build a focused business sustainability plan which incorporates sustainability concepts into core business practices. We work with business leaders to engage employees and other key stakeholders in business sustainability strategies that add specific value and promote company growth and success.
Synergy comes from the Greek word synergia, meaning joint work and cooperative action. Synergy is created when things work in concert together to create an outcome that is in some way of more value than the total of what the individual inputs is.
Solutions to complex problems can be sparked by unusual pairings. Consider how you can grow your business by partnering with a nonprofit, NGO, or the like to not only address business sustainability concerns but also solve and improve community issues.
In a report by Forum for the Future, the authors discuss the hallmarks of business sustainability leaders. Specifically in the area of community relations, the report discusses some key business distinctions.
- Community activities have strong links to the core business, its brands and its products/services.
- The business measures the outcomes, rather than just inputs, of its community activities.
- A clear strategy at group level provides the framework for initiatives carried out at the local level through partnership with community groups, local businesses, regulators etc.
- Measures are in place to ensure initiatives add value both to the community and to the business.
- Initiatives are delivered via mixed investments of time, finance, knowledge and skills.
How can you grow your business through community building? Match your company values with partnering organizations in the community. Focus on:
- Shared interest
- Creating a win/win outcome
- Meeting commitments to the local community
- Delivering on social business targets
- Building local trust
- Improving stakeholder relations
- Developing a skilled local supplier base
These kinds of partnerships lead to beneficial back scratching -to affect change and get a better grounding for the corporate social responsibility programs and business sustainability strategies. Organizations working together allow sustainability plans to synergize in a way neither organization can achieve on its own.