TJSGA fully supports and works in pursuit of the replacement of the current market centred ethos for one where people and planet are clearly and unequivocally placed above the market, which should act only as a vehicle for sustainable material welfare and not as an end in itself, and where governments truly fulfil their most basic responsibility: to procure the welfare of every rank of society, particularly of the dispossessed. This requires transforming capitalism into a new paradigm where a sustainable people and planet economic system is attained. For this reason, TJSGA feels that the following three resources, prepared by Jem Bendell (Adjunct Associate Professor, Griffith Business School, Australia; Founder, Lifeworth, Switzerland) and a cadre of experienced contributors, constitute a good initial vision of such ethos by challenging the current system and proposing a valuable rationale for its transformation.
The Global Step Change. THE 2007 LIFEWORTH'S REVIEW OF THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP. (excerpt from Jem Bendell's introduction)
In recent years a comprehensive corporate responsibility strategy has typically involved a commitment to continuous improvement, to being near the best in class, and engaging stakeholders. In 2007 that changed as the scale and urgency of social and environmental challenges became more widely understood, as well as the risks and opportunities to business. There was a wave of announcements of specific time-bound environmental targets, concerning actual performance, rather than management processes.
The emphasis on targets comes at a time when some key concepts in CSR were being challenged. Can continuous improvement and being best in class be sufficient if there are absolute performance levels needed to avoid costs of carbon and avert a climate disaster? Should holding stakeholder dialogues be a sign of good performance when leading research institutions are finding they make little difference to aligning the interests of businesses and their stakeholders? (see "silence is golden"). Might 2008 see the extension of this target trend to a broader range of corporate responsibility issues, such as development, labour and human rights? After all, for as long as the international community has had targets on climate change it has had targets for poverty reduction and the fulfilment of human rights, with the Millennium Development Goals, for instance.
This raises the question of whether companies need targets for all aspects of their social and environmental performance. Answering that depends on what we think is being achieved at present and how quickly, in relation to the goals we have. At the turn of the year Lifeworth decided to poll its 4000 newsletter subscribers on this issue. As over 90% of the respondents are actually working in corporate responsibility, the others having a professional interest in it, their responses give an impression of what the profession thinks is being achieved. We suggested two goals to measure performance by - a situation where all global economic activity is:
- environmentally sustainable, by harvesting products and services within ecosystems' regenerative capacities and producing bi-products that are recycled or only released safely and within a company's fair share of the Earth's capacity to absorb them
- socially responsible, by delivering benefit to all affected by their operations and supply chains, and being subject to credible systems of mandatory accountability to anyone seeking redress.
Therefore the 'Global Step Change' requires a reduction, redirection, and redistribution of consumption. It involves stepping:
- more lightly, by reducing the total level of resource consumption involved in meeting our needs and aspirations;
- more carefully, by reducing our demands on sensitive ecosystems and exploited people;
- in the right direction, by increasing the proportion of resources that go into creating enduring means of meeting human needs in resource-light ways;
- together, by increasing our support for others, particularly in developing countries, to meet their needs and aspirations through stepping forward more lightly, carefully and in the right direction.
Lifeworth's predictions for 2008 and beyond:
- Many more companies will announce time-bound environmental performance targets
- Some companies will announce time-bound social performance targets
- Some Asian-based multinationals will announce targets
- More Private Financial Institutions and NGOs will encourage time-bound targets from companies
- More networks and partnerships between companies and their stakeholders will focus on how to shape the market drivers that reward meeting such targets, including public policy, financial systems and consumer awareness.
Download the 2007 Lifeworth`s Review pdf file by Clicking here.
TIPPING FRAMES. THE 2006 LIFEWORTH'S REVIEW OF THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP. (excerpt from Jem Bendell's introduction)
Almost a decade ago, as the Indonesian tropical forests were burning out of control, I wrote that climate change had moved from theory to reality. But whose reality? Since then we've had a decade of business-as-usual, with carbon emissions booming in tandem with economic growth across the global South and steadily climbing in most of the North.
But recently something has changed. Friends now say to me, "so it's true, the climate is changing" and "it's big, everyone's talking about it," and some even say "it's because of us". As the emphasis on climate at the Oscars illustrated, carbon is the new black. Global Warming used to be a nerdy issue of scientific interest and environmental concern. Now it is a personal issue, of political interest and humanitarian concern. What made this happen? What made Climate Change reach a 'tipping point' to become hot gossip, even in countries like India where some might assume other matters are more pressing?
A Crucible for Tipping Frames
The range of activities relating to corporate responsibility form a site for frame tipping, for three reasons. They bring different professions and knowledge networks together that would otherwise rarely meet. This includes the three sectors of business, government and civil society. It includes the different fields of public concern, such as environment, health, poverty and human rights, as well as those with a local and an international focus. They are also focused on framing issues, as the diverse actors seek to find a new shared language involving terms like 'partnering', 'social entrepreneurship' and 'extra-financial issues'. I previously argued that the most significant frame to tip in this field is the concept of what it is to be a professional business person. That used to mean leaving troublesome values at home but now its coming to mean the highest expression of your values at work.5 This relates to a broader movement towards what could be called "work-life blending".
Changes in basic assumptions about the nature and purpose of business and work will have major knock on effects for the behaviour of consumers, staff, investors and regulators. The review discusses various examples of where cognitive frames in business, finance, accounting could be tipping: that certain assumptions about what those fields are, what they involve, and what it means to be professional within them is changing, in ways that have wide implications.
In the recent past progressive people in business, government and civil society have been uncomfortable about the ethics of 'social engineering' public values. This is because it seems to go against the spirit of recognizing people's dignity as equal people, which underlies democracy and human rights. That is a huge mistake. We are all socially conditioned. Every year billions are spent on marketing advertisements, public relations and lobbying. This is done to influence people to spend money. In doing so they feed frames such as desire, status and materialism. It is because we have left compelling mass communications to institutions that pursue narrow self-interests that we have the public attitudes we see today. The challenge is to help make people conscious of the social conditioning processes, to reduce those that are damaging, and to promote those that are beneficial to people within their communities. Consequently some organizations, such as WWF, have been calling on companies to 'talk the walk', by using their communications functions of advertising, public relations, lobbying and investor relations to articulate the type of economy and society we need, and the innovations in public policy we need to get there.
The power of frames, and the need to work on deep frame change, poses a challenge to those organizations we might assume are working towards the public interest. - namely nonprofits, charities or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In most cases their strategies and work programmes are failing the meet the depth, scale and urgency of the challenges we face today. Due to concerns about upsetting existing donors, and misplaced notions of professionalism such as the idea an NGO should stick narrowly to the text of its mission rather than the values from which it derives and gets animation today, and that it should use linear models for relating action to impact to justify its budgeting rather than recognizing how systemic change might require new modes of evaluation, most NGOs only work on tipping frames in minor and marginal ways. As I argued in my report for the UN on NGO accountability, international civil society organizations must not ape old notions of business professionalism, but develop visions of excellence that are appropriate to their work, and come to a greater understanding of their common global purpose, in order to combine their efforts for deeper change. 12
The new philanthropy from the 30-something dotcom billionaires might shake this charity mentality from mainstream NGOs, if they chose to engage. So if you are out there, Pierre, Jeff, Sergey, Larry, David or Jerry... we are waiting.
Watching developments in corporate responsibility during 2006 suggests that people's deepest assumptions about both business and work could be changing in cities around the world, with major implications for future competitiveness. A more subtle shift than the widely reported growth in entrepreneurialism across Asia, it is nonetheless significant. It is a shift towards moral markets. Although more research is required on the nature of this shift, it seems to be enabled by the blending work and life, business and public purpose, news and entertainment. Although important, it is not the dominant trend in many parts of the world, such as the rapidly emerging nations. If we want to end poverty and protect the planet we have to make it the decisive trend. Although we can't legislate for personal morals, we can legislate to create market frameworks and incentives that support moral behaviour.
If there is a silver lining to the clouds of climate change, it might be in the way it wakes us up to our moral responsibilities as part of life on Earth.
Download the 2006 Lifeworth`s Review pdf file by Clicking here.
SERVING SYSTEMIC TRANSFORMATIONS - AN APPROACH TO ENCOURAGE SYSTEMIC CHANGE TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. THE 2005 LIFEWORTH'S REVIEW OF THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP
The Lifeworth annual review of corporate responsibility senses a future where a new business leadership will transform the current business ethos to serve the people and not the market. The Lifeworth Review of 2005 incorporates the quarterly reviews of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Contributing to the growing call for a complete transformation of the current unsustainable system, the authors call the key players of the system to recognise that the world cannot continue to operate under the present market-driven ethos and, thus, that a new model with new values must be developed if we really aspire and desire to have a future.
The authors sense that a few companies, at the cutting edge of corporate citizenship, are beginning to recognise that the failures of the market system must be addressed.
These companies realise that they will be incapable of making their business model sustainable without the support of governments, consumers and investors. In the authors' opinion, the corporations will approach governments to make them address the market failures; they will work to empower consumers to develop a responsible and sustainable consumption culture -implementing sustainable production and responsible marketing and advertising- and will convince investors to engage in sustainability, so that they give the necessary latitude to the managers of their corporations to operate with long-term vision and goals. To be sure, there is no altruistic ulterior motive in corporations. Yet, as Jem Bendel, founder of Lifeworth, explains, they are exploring how to work together with the other players in order to cultivate a business case for a systemic change in society that engenders a truly sustainable ethos; a motive quite commendable from a sustainability perspective. In this way, with the same growing vision shared by The Jus Semper Global Alliance and by opinion leaders in the CSR arena, such as Allen White in his Fade Integrate or Transform - The Future of CSR, the Lifeworth Review of 2005 strives for a fundamental rethinking of capitalism to transform it, with the development of a new corporate leadership, across cultures and across sectors, that leads into a new global social ethos in the interest of the people and the planet and not the market.
The authors have named this edition: Serving Systemic Transformations, for, as Jem Bendel reflects, it embodies the new confidence of a profession and movement that arises out of an awareness of serving something greater than itself, with the conviction that it is beginning to transcend leadership to transform capitalism as we know it.
Download Lifeworth`s the 2005 Review pdf file by Clicking here.