Archive for the ‘CR news’ Category

Our Book on Cambridge University’s Top 40 List

April 26, 2011

My co-author and I are happy and proud to find that our book ‘Corporate Community Involvement: The Definitive Guide to Maximizing Your Business’ Societal Engagement’ ( has made no. 7 on Cambridge University’s Top 40 Sustainability Books 2010 list:

We also find that with the Prince of Wales, Al Gore, Muhammad Yunus, Joseph Stiglitz, Nicholas Stern, Jeffrey Hollender, Elaine Cohen and Wayne Visser as authors on the same list, we’re in very good company!


Sektorenübergreifende Partnerschaftspraxis: Dreitägiges Zertifikatstraining, 27.-29. September 2011, Köln

March 30, 2011

Hier das Training, auf das Sie in Deutschland schon lange gewartet haben, und zum ersten Mal auf Deutsch: Sektorenübergreifende Partnerschafts-Praxis. Ein dreitägiges Training mit der Option, im Anschluss ein Zertifikat zu erwerben. Das Training findet Ende September in Köln in einem der schönsten Seminarzentren Deutschlands statt.

Erweitern Sie Ihre Kenntnisse und Fähigkeiten, um sektorenübergreifende Partnerschaften effektiv umsetzen, moderieren und begleiten zu können!

Effektive Kooperationen zwischen Beteiligten mit unterschiedlichen Missionen, Zielsetzungen, Kulturen und sogar unterschiedlichem Sprachgebrauch sind nicht immer ganz einfach zu realisieren. Es werden ein gemeinschaftliches  Verständnis zwischen Partnern, ein gemeinsam getragener Führungsansatz, ein kooperatives Verständnis von Zusammenarbeit, ein „Werkzeugkasten“ an Schlüsselkompetenzen und gleichzeitig ein starkes Beziehungsmanagement sowie strukturiertes Projektmanagement benötigt. Partnerschaften, die auf der Basis dieser gemeinsam geschaffenen Erfolgsfaktoren entstehen, können echte Wirkung erzielen. Umgekehrt werden Partnerschaften ohne diese Erfolgsfaktoren weit hinter ihren Potentialen und Möglichkeiten zurückbleiben oder sogar scheitern.


Tag 1

Was bedeutet sektorenübergreifende Partnerschaft? – Warum sektorenübergreifende Partnerschaften? – Vorteile und Risiken von Partnerschaften – Andere Sektoren verstehen – Der Partnerschafts-Zyklus – Der Business Case für Partnerschaften

Tag 2

Efektive sektorenübergreifende Partnerschaften entwickeln – Interessenbasierte Verhandlungsführung – Partnerschaften managen und konstruktiv aufrecht erhalten

Tag 3

Typische Herausforderungen in sektorenübergreifenden Partnerschaften – Organisations-interne Hindernisse verstehen – Partnerschaften bewerten und kontinuierlich verbessern – Konkrete Planung nächster Schritte

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The Partnering Initiative
ist ein Programm des International Business Leaders Forum in London. Mit 20 Jahren Erfahrung in der Theorie und Praxis von sektorenübergreifenden Partnerschaften begleitet The Partnering Initiative effektive Zusammenarbeit zwischen Unternehmen, Regierungen und Entwicklungsorganisationen/Zivilgesellschaft: durch direkte Unterstützung, Trainings und die Entwicklung von Standards. The Partnering Initiative hat eine Reihe von Fachbüchern und Broschüren zum Thema herausgegeben.

Veronica Scheubel repräsentiert The Partnering Initiative in Deutschland.

Skills-based volunteering for retirees

January 26, 2011

My father is almost 72. He’s in perfect shape and interested in the state of the world and the global economy. He knows his ways around agriculture just as well as around real estate just as well as he’s a seasoned investor and there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the stock exchange.  And most of all, ever since he retired, he’s so bored.

My ex-husband speaks three languages, used to be a Managing Director, has a background in education, has lived in four different countries and traveled the world, and has an extensive business network. And most of all, ever since he retired, he’s so bored.

Already years ago a friend of mine pointed out how the concept of retirement has become quite redundant in our times, in many countries, especially for so-called white collar workers. Decades ago, when people were working very hard physically, the concept of retirement made sense – and often, people did not even live for that many years after they retired.

Nowadays it’s all different. My ex-husband thought he looked forward to retirement – finally time to sleep in, practice the jazz trumpet, travel, read all those books. Oh well, he enjoyed it for about six months. Then he started missing work.

What is it that people tend to miss when they retire? Being in touch with other people, and having something meaningful to do – something that gives them a sense of accomplishment, of making a difference, of getting recognition.

Interestingly, still rather few retirees consider skills-based volunteering. Even more interestingly, it’s rather women than men who tend to volunteer. I also wonder how actively the NGO sector taps into the whole retiree pool for getting skills-based support. These are people who could help NGOs with their strategy, their marketing, their accounting, with fundraising, investment strategies, negotiating partnerships – you name it. This could be free consulting!

I’ve seen a few retired managers take on skills-based volunteering. I remember particularly a high-ranking manager from BMW. He spoke up at a conference where I was a panelist, and he was just glowing when he shared how much his involvement meant to him. He volunteers part-time, around 10 to 15 hours a week, and he is amazed how useful his management and leadership skills from the automobile world are to the drug counselling center where he volunteers.

Another great example to me is the high-ranking manager from a major oil company who upon his retirement got seconded to a big international development NGO, with the company even providing some compensation for his time spent there.

Why do I write about this? We read so much about volunteering, be it on people’s personal time or as employee volunteering. I miss seeing more on skills-based volunteering for retirees – something that is becoming ever more relevant in our ageing societies in the so-called Western world, and something that is certainly a triple win: NGOs get invaluable skills contributed for free. Retirees don’t fall into a black hole of boredom, instead feel fulfilled from making a meaningful contribution. And the company can still proudly report on retirees volunteering in its CR report! It ups the total numbers of participants and hours, and it provides the human interest stories.

By the way, my ex-husband found his volunteering job eventually. He’s taking care of marketing the region where he lives in France for free, just getting his expenses paid – thus helping both their trade relations and their tourism.

I’m still looking for the right kind of involvement for my Dad – his favorite would be some work in Southern Africa! Any takers?

Proud to be listed among Twitter’s ‘Best of CSR in 2010’

December 21, 2010

Today I feel in good company indeed: I feel proud that Fast Company has listed me as one of the ‘Best of CSR in 2010’ contributors on Twitter, in its 2010 CSR Christmas Tree. This is about being recognized as a ‘Thought Leader in CSR’. Seeing @ScheubelDevelop up there with @davidcoethica, @fabianpattberg, @elainecohen, @realizedworth – to name only a few of my much-admired peers – is a great motivation to keep going in 2011, with provocative thought and relevant information around CSR and sustainability, leadership and change.

See the Fast Company site at

Excellent review of our CI handbook posted on CSR Wire

October 26, 2010

I’m so proud of the review Nick’s and my book ‘Corporate Community Involvement: The Definitive Guide’ has received from Elaine Cohen, published on CSR Wire just a few days ago!

Excerpt: ‘With all the investment in CCI, wouldn’t you think companies would spend a little more time and energy actually planning their CCI program so that it delivers full strategic value rather than just a theoretical reputation boost? That’s where Nick Lakin and Veronica Scheubel come in. Their book is the most comprehensive guide ever written to help companies and their internal CCI leaders do just this.’

Read the full ‘commentary’ (underneath ‘description’) at:

Engaging the whole organization around sustainability: It needs bringing CR and Change practitioners together!

October 17, 2010

About time for another blogpost – this one will be about CSR/Sustainability and change, and how practitioners from both sides need to work together. The urgency to write about this arose from attending the sustainability-focused Ashridge conference ‘Leading Organisations of Tomorrow’ ( last week.

Attending the conference and engaging in many conversations with fellow practitioners made me realize what my own advocacy is really about: engaging the whole organization around sustainability. I believe that CSR/Sustainability can only work, move out of a marginal position and achieve scale, if it is looked at  – and implemented as – a long-term change initiative for the whole organization.

But here’s the current reality:

While the few exceptional organizations have managed engagement well, CSR/Sustainability managers/directors in the majority of organizations are faced with the task of engaging the whole organization around sustainability – and don’t have a clue how to do that creatively, professionally and effectively. How do they go about it, other than, simply speaking, holding a ppt presentation for the board and pushing information mails on information-overloaded employees? They are also supposed to effectively dialogue and engage with external stakeholder groups – and so many I have met are scared of that, as they simply don’t know how to effectively engage in difficult conversations that might center around conflict.

Change/OD consultants, whether in-house or external, could be really helpful in all of these contexts, and many of them care personally about the topic of sustainability. However, there still seems to be deep fragmentation between these circles – a fragmentation that urgently needs to be bridged, in my opinion.

Interestingly, one company that really stood out with a different approach here already in the middle of the Noughties was O2 in Germany: They had the change consultants right there as members of their CR Steering Group. Great!

Change/OD consultants already work inside organizations on issues around culture and values, inclusive strategy development, and various change initiatives. They tend to be excellent and sensitive facilitators, also capable of providing a safe environment for difficult stakeholder conversations. Strangely enough, the fewest of them seem to have looked at sustainability as a long-term change initiative for the whole organization. At the conference last week, I noticed that many of them, in their own understanding of sustainability, seem to be in the ‘late majority’ segment for that topic …

At the conference, a company-internal OD consultant said: “I really want to get involved with the sustainability topic. I think I want to put it on the agenda of a workshop with top leaders in the company I’ll be running soon.”

I asked: “What about the CSR/Sustainability people in your company? Do you know each other? Have you ever talked with them?” Her answer was that a) she did not know them/had never met them and b) she did not want to involve them in designing that topic for her workshop. I was left puzzled …

On the other hand, I would assume that most CSR/Sustainability managers don’t know what good change/OD consultants can help them with: Effective engagement of both the board and of employees internally, and of other stakeholder groups externally, through e.g. interviews and facilitated online ‘jams’, workshops and focus groups, thinking and inquiring together, Future Search or Appreciative Inquiry initiatives, inclusive strategy and innovation work, and so on. The CSR/Sustainability people could get into highly effective engagement initiatives together with in-house or external people who really know their way around such engagement, and who bring the required training, experience, pedagogy, methodologies and ‘tools’.

Effectively engaging the board, middle management and employees in general creates buy-in from everybody in the organisation, creates opportunities for sustainability becoming part of organizational culture and values, for employees taking ownership for sustainability in their respective functions, and for employees contributing lots of innovation potential around sustainability. Effectively engaging external stakeholders creates improved understanding, might resolve conflicts, and can also contribute a lot of innovation potential.

CSR/Sustainability managers, when shown what change/OD consultants can do in working together with them, tend to lean back, visibly relax, and breathe a huge sigh of relief, saying “why did you not tell me earlier? where have you been all this time? when can we start working together?”

On the other hand, change/OD consultants who also care about sustainability (be it ecological sustainability, sustainable employee relations or sustainable leadership) can find here a really meaningful and fulfilling field of own engagement.

What’s missing, I find, are large-scale opportunities – e.g. workshops, conferences – to bring the two circles together: for getting to know each other, for generating improved mutual understanding, and for mutual exploration of opportunities.

Why am I passionate about this topic? As said at the beginning, if we want to achieve much-needed scale and effective implementation of organization sustainability, in my understanding it is the only way forward. Ongoing fragmentation will not get us there.

When I brought this up at the conference, the lead facilitator asked back: “Would you be willing to take this project on?” Well yes, I would. I’ve decided to really look into this and try to make it happen for next year. Collaborators most welcome!


NGOs and Corporations: Collaboration and Conflict

September 23, 2010

At the International CSR Conference in Berlin on September 23, this topic is getting the attention of a major plenary session. A few months ago, there was a major cross-sector panel on the same issue, featuring key environmental NGOs and, amongst other corporate representatives, a major energy company. This panel, coincidentally, also took place in Berlin, and a key question there was, just as well as at the conference here now: Can you collaborate and criticize at the same time?

Corporate representatives often assume that NGOs should be thrilled about the opportunity to partner with them. I must admit that, coming from the corporate side, I also held that attitude for a long time. I am still passionate about cross-sector partnerships and their opportunities.

NGOs, however, are often concerned with a mix-up of their roles. As civil society representatives, aren’t they supposed to be independent, critical of and, if necessary, protest corporate activities? They are concerned whether they are giving up power, will be influenced or interfered with too much, compromise their own stakeholder base – becoming “corporatist” and “losing their power and their teeth”, as Michael Yaziji of IMD’s Forum for Corporate Sustainability Management calls it during the plenary session at the conference.

Cross-sector collaboration is certainly an interaction of ideologies, value sets, visions, missions and expectations that can become quite complex and controversial – and I am noticing that for corporations, it is certainly necessary to be sensitive of this and pay good attention to NGOs’ concerns. An important questions to be asked is: Taking complexity and concerns into consideration, what can be done to build a relationship of mutuality/reciprocity and trust? In that context, a question to be asked as well is: What does each side have to give up (e.g. interests, positions, attitudes) to collaborate well?

Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International, said wisely yesterday: “You need to always keep the dialogue open, while keeping the right distance.” What the ‘right’ distance is probably needs to be negotiated case by case, and re-negotiated periodically and situationally?

Global heads of citizenship for leading multinational companies have registered for Boston College course that I’ll facilitate

September 21, 2010

When we first came up with the idea, we were not sure how many people would register. Now, as Boston College tells me, they “have to fight people off” – there are more people wanting to register than they can offer seats on the program! And it’s great people – I look forward to meeting and working with them. Quite a few are the global heads of Community Involvement for leading multinational companies.

The program is the Community Involvement Leadership Academy, offering experienced Community Involvement practitioners additional, also experiential, training in leadership, change, influencing and persuasion, difficult stakeholder conversations, and social innovation.

The CI Leadership Academy is taking place November 8 to 12 at Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. My co-facilitators will be two of the Center’s much-loved trainers, Ron Brown and Bea Boccalandro. Looking forward to working with them! Special treat: Three of Boston College’s top academic lecturers will each run a session. More on this soon …

If you’d like to read more, check out the Boston College website here:’s-educational-programs-latest-catalog-released/

Or get in touch with me!

What do I mean by understanding diversity and offering mutuality?

April 25, 2010

These days, there is a lot of talk about diversity – and yet I still often feel like there is limited understanding of the notion. Diversity is about more than age or gender, cultural origin (I don’t like the notion of ‘race’, as I consider it a political concept) or religious background, sexual or political orientation, physical or mental ability, socio-economic status  – ultimately it is about respecting each and every person, being and nature as having a right to be and to exist in their own unique and complex ways, defining their own views and their own identity. To me, it extends to understanding that a person does not remain the same over years, but can be different and evolving every single day. I’d like to go as far as to suggest taking nobody for granted, not assuming we ‘know’ somebody, but remaining open and curious – towards your nearest and dearest just as well as towards friends and colleagues or strangers – and to ask every day anew: “Who are you today? What matters to you today?” This is about respect. It is about acceptance. It is about inclusion, and about granting everybody a sense of belonging and a right to participation. It is about something called ‘intersubjectivity’ – seeing, understanding and respecting the other person as a subject in themselves, with their own identity. This is different from perceiving the other person, being or nature as an ‘object’ – which would be about projecting our own meaning-making about them on them (and themhaving no – potentially corrective – voice in that).

These days, we hear about inter-cultural competence. I’d like to lobby for inter-diversity competence, for inter-subjective competence. (With the latter, I thought I might have come up with a slightly odd notion, but I googled it and found indeed a book refering to the same notion: ‘Cosmopolitics – thinking and feeling beyond the nation’, by Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins.)

If we each engage in this mutual give-and-take of understanding each other in our highly diverse and complex identities and ways – of seeing the world, making our own meaning and creating our lives – if we all offer each other this kind of understanding, respect and inclusion, then that is about mutuality.

These days, mutuality is the most important thing to me – I find that no relationship of any kind can be satisfying if there isn’t sufficient mutuality offered. To me, this is so in personal relationships just as well as in professional connections. We need it between lovers, between parents and children, between friends and neighbors, between co-workers, between superiors and the people reporting to them, between organisations and their stakeholders, between nation states. If one keeps giving and the other one does not reciprocate or reciprocates badly, the balance is off. I find it is important that we pay attention to always balancing out the mutuality account, in a good way.

I guess these are the two biggest things moving me these days – seeing and understanding each other in our everyday-anew complex identities, and offering each other positive mutuality.

As my wonderful tutor in university, Caryn Vanstone, once said: “We are always in relation. We cannot not be in relation. What matters is the quality of the relationship.” And as mentioned above, that extends beyond people – to all beings, and to nature.

Attending Intl. Corporate Citizenship Conference in Boston, April 11-13

April 22, 2010

It’s been 5 years since I last attended the annual International Corporate Citizenship Conference in Boston. Thank you so much to Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship for inviting me! I got to introduce our book ‘Corporate Community Involvement: The Definitive Guide’ and got to co-facilitate a session. Saw familiar faces again (e.g. Billy Brittingham, Colleen Olphert, Chris Pinney, Angela Kang), met those who I had previously only heard on the phone (e.g. Eileen Blinstrub, Emily Weiner) and made wonderful new contacts (e.g. Phil Clawson, Greg Mangum). Also great fun to meet F2F with fellow Tweeters Chris Jarvis and Ashley Jablow. And I was grateful for the opportunity to thank Brad Googins personally for having so kindly and generously endorsed our book!

In terms of sessions, I enjoyed the breadth of content – there was something for those interested in philanthropy just as well as for those interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship. My personal favorite was Nate Garvis with his talk on ‘Naked Civics’ – one memorable quote: “The law now is the public conversation, building a culture, and that becomes the law.”

My special treat was a conversation with Phil Mirvis and his lovely wife Mary Jo Hatch, an organisational psychologist and an organisational theorist respectively. Wonderful new insights on underbounded and overbounded systems from Phil and reading recommendations on organisational identity from Mary Jo – both topics that I’m currently interested in as part of my ongoing learning around organisation consulting …

And then it was hilarious listening to Nadira Hira and her insights on Gen Y – it was great that she was so straightforwardly outspoken! And I found that a lot of the things Gen Yers expect and take for granted relationally is what I promote in my consulting as the new path for organisations to take. Hopefully, with Gen Y growing up, the whole approach will go inevitably mainstream: with a relaxed work culture, a relational approach, bottom-up participatory input, etc. Useful quote from her, equally regarding customers, stakeholders, employees: “Retention is impacted by building bonds.”

Finally, did I mention that the food was *incredible*?

For more, see the conference recap page here:

For those who could not buy our book at the bookseller’s table at the conference, given it was sold out so quickly, go to to buy with one click.