Being a force for positive change in the world: the time is now

Social_Intra_Jazz_HIThere is an excellent report on the state of the world, and how to make it better from a group of eminent people, headed by the former boss of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, called Now for the Long Term. This group of distinguished, largely international public servants with some business figures was convened by the Oxford Martin School to examine how to “break gridlock on global challenges or risk an unstable future.” Their excellent report which, if you have not yet read it, I heartily commend, begins with an arresting statement: “NOW is the best time in history to be alive.” Continue reading

“It’s no good just putting a triangular logo on something… we need to educate consumers”

In the the fifth video of the interview series with contributors to Cranfield on Corporate Sustainability, editor David Grayson talks to Lynette Ryals, Professor of Strategic Sales & Account Management at Cranfield School of Management about her chapter in the book Cranfield on Corporate Sustainability which looks at the issues in sustainable marketing. Follow the discussion here:


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CSR and Disaster Risk Reduction – Part 2

In part one of my reflection on CSR and natural disasters, I reflected on how business has a role to play in minimising the vulnerability of the communities in which they operate. In part two, I reflect on how disaster risk reduction can actually be a vehicle for business to contribute to sustainable development by addressing the systemic causes that expose communities to natural hazard risk.

The outfall from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010 was a good example. In the three days after the eruption and the subsequent grounding of aircraft, 5000 farm workers in Kenya had been temporarily laid-off due to the lack of market access. Whilst Tesco was able to organise an alternative delivery route through Spain, it raises the question of the viability of trade arrangements that create such dependencies.
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CSR and Disaster Risk Reduction – Part 1

One aspect of social media relates to disaster risk reduction and providing important access to information in the wake of disasters [1]. This was exemplified by the recent Japan earthquake and Tsunami. With Japanese telecommunications affected by the seismic activity, but the internet still working, Twitter and Facebook were the most effective way to get news out. Therefore, disaster risk reduction is one field in which social media enterprise could contribute as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Interestingly, the Japan earthquake also reminds us of how companies, other than social media enterprise, can respond to disasters. Google, for instance, ‘advertised’ this warning on its search engine page in response to the earthquake, thus becoming a global emergency alert system, stating:
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CSR and Social Media – Part 2

In my last blog on CSR and Social Media, I wrote about social media still being a “double-edged sword” for CSR. However, besides the risks, there are also massive opportunities. For instance, the internet is empowering small traders and promoting greater equity in the supply chain, strongly aided by the new generation of web-enabled mobile phones. China Mobile’s Nongxintong – or farming information service – launched four years ago. This allows 20 million farmers to stay up-to-date on commodity prices. Other innovations include the Geo Fair Trade research project which is devising a geotraceability tool for the Fair Trade sector as a way of re-personalising ethics in the Fairtrade supply chain. Meanwhile, Patagonia’s forsaking of GRI-style sustainability reporting in favour of their online Footprint Chronicles® which maps the impacts of their products through the supply chain, perhaps provides a glimpse into the future of transparency.
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CSR and social media

In a previous blog on CSR and WikiLeaks, I suggested that social media may be a new platform for social activism. There are some, like Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell, who are sceptical. In his article for The New Yorker, subtitled “Why the revolution will not be Tweeted“, he argues that “the drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change – if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash – or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to be a hierarchy.”

WikiLeaks
is just one face of a broader movement of the explosion of social media as a new platform for communication, stakeholder engagement and transparency. Continue reading