The Third Way

Occupy Wall Street photo

Capitalism in crisis?

2008. The year a large stone finally dropped into the calm waters of the financial markets, changing the face of our world forever. The ripple effect has been felt everywhere, sparking scenes of protest against financial deregulation and heavy-handed government austerity measures. The public mistrust big business more than ever. As well they might, because they must foot the bill for years of wrongdoing and carelessness. Since the global financial crisis began, we have witnessed previously unthinkable scenes around the world. Who would have thought that a few protesters in the financial powerhouse of New York would set off a global Occupy movement? That bankers would boast openly about the money-making opportunities offered by recession? Or that millions would take to the streets, decrying savage cuts to their pensions?

As those in power continue the arduous struggle to resume the status quo, one thing seems clear: the 99%, the ordinary people, must split into two camps. We can either work to re-establish free-market capitalism, or we can work against it and seek a revolution.

But what if there was a third way? What if there was a way to change capitalism from the inside out? According to Timothy Mohin, Corporate Responsibility director at AMD, it is possible to work within a corporation and to steer it towards responsible behaviour. In his new book Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations he explains how we can be altruists while working in a for-profit company.

Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD

Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD

By working within large companies, a treehugger like me can steer these decisions toward social and environmental good. It is a bit like being the designated driver at a cocktail party, but it can be very, very rewarding”. – Tim Mohin

“The reason I have dedicated my career to corporate responsibility is that by working within large companies, a treehugger like me can steer these decisions toward social and environmental good. Like steering a supertanker, sometimes a very small nudge in the right direction can produce massive change.”

Tim’s book provides a fascinating roadmap to the corporate responsibility and sustainability field, from beginning a career, to forming a programme, to navigating the complicated politics of a corporation. Jennifer Roynon is an experienced CSR programme manager for a Canadian health insurance company. She says:

“This is one of the most valuable and useful guides to working in Corporate Responsibility written to date. Tim uses his extensive experience working in organisations such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, Intel, Apple, and currently AMD to provide practical tools and advice to not only those seeking to enter the sector but also to seasoned CR professionals and business leaders.

“The guide is well organised and methodically covers all of the crucial areas that CR personnel need to consider when developing and implementing successful environmental, social and governance initiatives. It begins by closely analysing the required skills, competencies and personality traits that are essential for an individual interested in working in the sector.

“It does not pretend to provide an in-depth look at all of the issues but rather a hands-on guide with real-life examples and easy step by step tips on how to start developing successful CR strategies and impactful programs. The fact that this book is written by an insider, someone who has implemented these types of activities in some of the world’s leading corporations, sets it apart from many of the other books that speak to case studies and theories. This guide is a recommended must-read as it inspires the reader to action with its invaluable insights and lessons learned.”

Throughout Changing Business from the Inside Out Tim argues strongly that activists can accomplish more for the planet and society by serving as a voice of responsibility within the corporation rather than protesting outside the factory gates. He makes the case for working towards increased corporate responsibility instead of turning our back on the free market:

“Whether your worldview is that corporations are inherently selfish or are more prone to act in the public’s interest, it is undeniable that the free-market economy is the dominant social institution of our time. The pessimists forecast a race to the bottom where multinational corporations diminish social and environmental conditions. The optimists see an upward spiral of responsible companies working to improve conditions, even making a profit in the process. Whichever view is correct is an abstract academic argument. The reality is that the corporate responsibility movement is real and expanding at a rapid rate throughout the world economy. I wrote this book to help others who feel, as I do, that working in corporate responsibility is the most effective way to make a difference in the world.”

By Anna Comerford

Review by Jennifer Roynon for the CSR International Book Review Digest. Access the original here.

Tim Mohin is the director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD. He has worked in similar roles for Apple and Intel. He is the author of Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations.

Buy Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations direct from Greenleaf Publishing and receive a 30% discount. Just use voucher code CB963 at checkout.

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