As language has kept changing and developing over the past decade, from philanthropy via Corporate Citizenship to Corporate Community Involvement, there is yet again a change to be noticed. Increasingly, the mining, oil and gas companies (e.g. Shell, e.g. BG Group) talk about Social Performance Management and develop their own Social Performance Standards. In their companies, Community Involvement is now part of overall Social Performance Management (the third line of the Triple Bottom Line). As they have been trendsetters before, it will be interesting to see whether their language will ‘go mainstream’ soon …
What started out as corporate philanthropy morphed into social sponsoring, and then by way of Corporate Citizenship turned into Corporate Community Involvement. What started out as Health & Safety expanded to Health, Safety & Environment, and then broadened to become Corporate Social Responsibility with its triple bottom line. It took two to three years of international back and forth, and then the ‘social’ was dropped – the language turned to Corporate Responsibility. Well, then the issue itself became interesting to governments and NGOs – they wanted *their* corporate responsibility … only, they are not corporations. So, lately we are increasingly talking about *organization sustainability*. How can an organization be sustainable – economically, environmentally, and socially with employees and with all other (human) stakeholders?
Between locking your values firmly in tradition, never to examine them again, and being completely value-free and random in your choices, there is an in-between: Be(come) aware of your situation and the state of society and the world – and choose your values consciously, acting on them accordingly. Re-investigate your values periodically to make sure they still make sense or adjust them to new demands of a changing environment.
What got us into the current world-economic and climate mess? The short answer, according to many media headlines these days, is: Greed. Greed is about the absence of values. Greed is about short-termist thinking, about the next three months rather than the next 30 years. Profit as a mono-criterion is *not* sustainable – it creates a win-lose situation. The trouble with that is what The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) pointed out: 5-20 % of global gross domestic product will be lost *per year* if stabilizing measures are not introduced. We will experience *market failure*. Stern states: “Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”
The breakdown of the financial industry, the breakdown of the automotive industry already demonstrate how short-termist thinking *will* produce a backlash worse than everything ever imagined. If we don’t tie ourselves to well-chosen values, we will experience a series of unimagined breakdowns over the coming years. Healthy (albeit moderate) profits and healthy companies need to be firmly integrated with and embedded in a complex and interdependent context of healthy (well cared-for) customers, healthy (well cared-for) employees, and a healthy (well cared-for) environment. Yes, this is holistic thinking indeed – our common interest can not be less than a world in balance. And if new business models are needed for that, then we need the best minds everywhere to think hard about those.
Das Buch ‘Soziale Kapitalisten’ von Hannes Koch ist gut geschrieben und absolut lesenswert. ‘Disbelievers’ werden den Sinn von Unternehmensverantwortung verstehen und Inspirationen fuer eigene Umsetzung im Unternehmen erhalten – Praktiker werden sich bestaetigt sehen, zusaetzliche Denkansaetze finden und ebenfalls Inspiration fuer neue Moeglichkeiten erhalten. Ich empfehle selten ein Buch – dieses lege ich Ihnen als lesenswertes ‘must-read’ ans Herz. Gleichzeitig ein riesiger Dank an den Autor fuer seinen fluessigen Stil, der das Lesen zum schnellen Vergnuegen macht – selten bei einem Buch zu diesem Thema!