Archive for October, 2006

Does Labour work for CSR?

tories_green_label.jpgThe Worldbank PSD-blog had a look into the CSR-policies of both the British Tory and Labour parties. While David Cameron heavily relies on his Steve “Chief Advisor” Hilton (see my post) and promotes CSR, Gordon Brown (still most likely the successor of Tony Brown, whilst not by government but by Labour appointment) now explains how important it is to

“champion social enterprise, to champion corporate social responsibility and to champion community and environmental action …”

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great that Labour now embraces CSR - by and large they are still miles ahead of, say, most German politicians. However, the CSR-Minister appointed by Labour was accused by the CSR-community amongst other things to ghettoise CSR, and only a few months ago Labour supported the half-hearted approach of CSR by the EU (Ethical Corporation has more details).

BTW on German politicians: they still grapple with the issue of whether or not they should apply OECD-guidelines to their procurement).


Benefits of FDI

oecd.jpgForeign Direct Investment (FDI) remains a cornerstone of new international development commitments. But how effective is it, and how can donor countries maximise its benefits? A recent OECD-paper looks at the connections between aid, trade and investment policies.

via Pienso…


ICCA conference

social_alternatives3.jpgHuman dignity and humiliaton studies (HumanDHS) points to an ICCA conference June 26-28 2007 by the International Center for Corporate Accountability (ICCA) on “Globalisation and good corporations”.

Watch out, wikipedia authors - there’s no information on ICCA at wikipedia!



standup2.jpgThe main development program of the Bush presidency is under critical review by the Center for global development (CDG): A story just published by CDG, the Millenium challenge account asks ,whether increases in MDA happened at the expense of traditional Official development assistance (ODA). To cut it short: again the UN concept of “Millenium development goals” (MDG), by far more demanding and challenging, is not being represented by the US take on the “Millenium challenge” (Soros’ study on how MCA could be improved).

Me thinks, this would be a story even for mainstream, would it not? :)


Zeichen und Wunder


:) BoP!

via Pienso

update: Here is a critical account of Yunus’ work and “Microcredit as Business” by a CDG research fellow.


Investing in peace: Spurring private sector involvement in peacebuilding

invest_in_peace.jpgPooh… quite an excourse to most topics currently discussed in the world of CSR.

Now, back to “CSR and conflict”: There will be a conference at Wilton Park on above topic. Organisers GPPI (an amazing organisation: 12 people, yet involved with countless things and actors - just compare this with other think tanks, say, neo-con, neo-lib Cato…) and the ministry formerly owned by Joschka work together with Wilton Park on building dialogue between corporates and NGOs. Some interesting encounters: German BMZ-minister Heidi Wieczorek-Zeul will be meeting Heinrich von Pierer (famous for holding the first corporate speech (German original: piererunrede.doc) in front of the UN general assembly), or Jane “Business of Peace” (2000) Nelson meeting Virginia “the role of business in conflict” (2002) Haufler…

I’m afraid I do need to get in there somehow, either as journalist for Ethical Corporation of else asking them for an NGO reduction: after all, although on its last leg, Breaking the Ice gGmbH is still ticking….

And, I’m afraid I will have to ask Mari, if I may postpone my return to Brandeis for a few days; OK Mari? :)


And what do CEOs think about all this?

marcrem2.jpgPlease check names and functions at the programme

Frank Trümper, formerly head of CCA (the CSR-shop within Deutsche Bank) and board member of DB’s group of foundations, opens with an interesting question: What is the value that CSR adds to the business of Deutsche Bank?

This relates for example to employee engagement (see also an article from Ethical Corporation , where Trümper is interviewed on this). And, to him this is being enhanced through a human relations (HR) department which sees Companies delivering on the concept of meritocracy (see the inventor of the term and his unease about New Labours’ use of it). Trümper seems quite radical in perceiving this as “the only legitimation for business” (or did I get this wrong??). To him, the highest reward of business is, to contribute to democratic solutions. He ends with the remark that the scandalisation of fat cat pay is just a metaphor for all that’s wrong with the business world. True blue.

Dirk Matten refers to countries, where governments don’t enforce human rights etc. - and the growing role of MNCs in these markets. Companies need to relate to the growing worldwide impacts they now have - not only by globalised trade but as well by the internet that changed the model, amount and distribution of information.

According to Matten, the notion of CSR being voluntary gets increasingly obsolete. For instance, Adidas does have responsibilities in developing countries, it is not a choice. What should be the standard to measure CSR? Provision of basic civic rights, public infrastructure and all those things that used to be de rigeur when the nation state was still in full blow! Although, me thinks, he most likely *is* aware of the function that corporate spin and an instrumental understanding of CSR has.

Trümper compares CSR with the history Total Quality Management (TQM) had and has within the corporate environment - in the mid-90s, after years of constant lobbying, TQM finally arrived in an increasingly complex world, getting incorporated within business core functions. Similar CSR: Business nowadays ask: Where do I affect society, where do I have the strongest impact through my competences? Critically to all approaches of CSR through locating it within the communications department Trümper adds that CSR is not a corporate but a management function.

I like this guy. Even liked him at this press conference mid-2005 when DB presented their annual CCA report, when he sat next to this banker with that difficult name (was it Tessen von Heidebrecht or something?), a guy really informed on all things CSR - underwriting the report… ;)

Matten sees a break in social responsibility after ‘89 - the argument of “capitalism has won” indoubtedly seems to be long-term compelling Although, I should add, it is exactly this “new paradigm” that leads to a redefinition and repositioning of not only economy but of critical thinking itself: “Wo, wenn nicht hier, sollten Unternehmen menschlicher gemacht… Wer, wenn nicht wir…” etc. - so that this critical thinking survives or - in benjaminic terms - is “saved” within management (Trümper: not corporate) functions of, you guessed it: CSR :)).

Dassler from Adidas (yes, the “das” in Adidas is the das of Dassler) mentioned that they convinced their suppliers and thereby increased efficiency.

The moderator (sorry, didn’t get his name, it wasn’t Ziesemer/Handelsblatt bus a colleague…) provokes the board member of E.on, Krüper, asking how he justifies the overpriced energy prices of which everyone in Germany including my family is concerned. Krüper answers, the sector does have price exchanges such as the Leipzig energy exchange, but “We are far away from being a perfect market, we are supporting the propositions of politicions towards a harmonized, liberal market in Europe.” Do I need to comment?

How important is sustainable growth? It is a factor, says Dassler, although it might not be that known by shareholders. Krüper sees that managing sustainability is only possible if you are a sustainable cmpany. You can only survive, when your stakeholders are convinced that your price, quality and employee is OK.
Comes the public questions:

Someone asks Krüper (!) that, while everybody is talking about the new role of companies that could they not mean, beside zillions of things that they redefined in their rather limited neoliberal, neo-con view, that they would be able to play a leading role towards e.g. renewable energy - something that is undoubtedly lacking in politics (again: hello RNE! :))? Krüper points to the offshore wind electricity plants they plan - and that Eon does both: burning fuels *and* investing in renewables.

Dassler confesses that it is the leading SRI agencies that press them towards a “never ending” story reporting, so finance is an integrated process. And Krüper adds, that it is only fair to say that CSR in not among the first priorities of CSR - and that investors don’t ask for CSR activities but instead do say: We do want you to be sustainable (SRI’s knocking) etc. — well, well, here he really should mention that sustainability is about sustainable growth and profitability, shouldn’t he? However, he doesn’t.

I wonder if - among all things of Eon investing some 2% (or was it 0.2%? Never mind) of their net profits in renewables - this market-driven argument for sustainability (to be precised, it’s not quite an argument or function of SD, it really is within the core of SD itself) has arrived at the board of one of the world’s largest utilities?


Making CSR work

freeman03-11-13-39.jpgFreeman presents ideas that are forthcoming in Freeman, Harrison and Wicks, “Managing for Stakeholders”, which will be published in 2007. His core proposition is “Business is all about value creation and trade”. In his opinion, “capitalism” refers to a number of different debates in society: Often the term is confusing and opaque. He’s stating that, if we think about how a society can sustain a system of voluntary value creation and trade, then capitalism can be beneficial. And he highlights traditional models of capitalism, portraying markets as the main metaphor for most models of business. However, what does it help a business, to think about creating value in trade, he asks. And: What does the entrepreneur do?

Economies work in part, “because there always is a better way to start”. However, the problems with competition are captured by four arguments: the global, historical, societal framework, and the human nature argument. Historical: Value creation and trade has emerged in a time *before* the nation state. The traditional idea is that capitalism works because people compete with each other - and that entrepreneurship must relate to the concept of a singular, egotistical entrepreneur. Freeman thinks this is wrong.

Following up on this, he remarks: How can we have an ethical theory separated from business, if we always have been value creators and traders? The overall internalised presumption is that business is morally questionable - without realising the benefits of business. And thus, businessmen are mostly interested to answer the question “what do you stand for” rather than “what business are you in”.

To Freeman, capitalism is a system of social cooperation. It is about how to create value for each other - something that no-one does on their own. And exactly this is, why capitalism works. We have simply forgotten that business works because we can work together and because we have joint interests. He calls this “stakeholder co-operation”.

In addition to this, “stakeholder responsibility” is needed to create, trade and sustain value: parties agree that they accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. When third parties are harmed, they must be compensated, or a new agreement must be negotiated with all of those parties who are affected.

Value can be created, traded and sustained because human beings are complex psychological creations, capable of acting from many different values and points of view. Economists ignore a lot of what we already know about human behaviour. They talk about “rewards and punishments” and ignore that human beings have complex emotional lifes. Freeman states: this exactly, this complexity is the reasons why business works. That’s where capitalism starts. And this is stakeholder engagement, adding to stakeholder responsibility and stakeholder co-operation. So, according to Freeman, the classical and scholarly debate between Freeman and Friedman is “beside the point”:

“Stakeholder engagement is the essence of what business is all about.”

Update: Freeman’s keynote.

Comments (1)

Good citizen - does it pay?

chrogoodcitizen2.jpgFriday the 13th starts with missing the tram and thus being late. :(

C.B. Bhattacharya from Boston (again! there’s a bunch of Bostonians at this conference. Very nice! I just heard, btw, that the next Humboldt University Conference will be staged in Boston. No joke.) University, gives an introduction why CSR can’t be started tomorrow to be influential tomorrow. It has to be started today. He presents recent research on P&G. He dealt with three signature projects, namely a P&G fund, cause-related marketing (Crest Healthy Smiles - a teeth program for kids) and the P&G employee engagement.

He is - unlike most professors - fair in mentioning that he indeed did not do all of the research, but had a number of doctoral students working at it. Here’s the abstract.

I. The P&G fund

A corporate social initiative (CSI) first of all means to assess stakeholder and company returns. Bhattacharya returns to these two main results frequently during the presentation. So, what happened? P&G gave 1 Million USD to an early childhood development center, to build an education and development center. Bhattacharya did a before and after study on this gift, splitting the respondents into two parts: those who were - after the gift - informed (n=98) about the gift and those who weren’t (n=492). The result: Awareness is associated with the cause, with the belief that P&G is socially responsible and in touch with its stakeholders, and with stronger identification. Also, awareness is associated with purchase, so if there is something in it for stakeholders, they react positive. And, it is associated with intrinsic attributes. However, overall there was low awareness of the social initiative - as well as for CSR in general. Still, it paid in regards stakeholder returns (a support for the cause) and company returns.

II. Crest healthy smiles

They assessed the effect of CSI on cause beneficiary and consumers, and they assessed the effect of CSI on brand and company among key consumer segment (the hispanic market). In a second step, it is important to understand the relationship between both. The larger framework to this: Combatting America’s oral health epidemic by helping 50 million children and their families by 2010 is a campaign and policy goal.
They talked to two stakeholder groups, the cause beneficiaries (parents) and the consumers (general hispanic population, also control group) in three locations NY, Houston and x.

Dental health is an important need in both groups: “You don’t have friends, when your teeth are yellow”. Functional that means to have fewer cavities, psycho-social it means to improve self-confidence. The feedback of kids brings a positive association for kids as well as parents. Which is important, since most of hispanic parents use Colgate and not Crest.

And, there is a clear investment into the future, as this progresses: “Care for the community” as an intrinsic motive and the extrinsic “way to market products” motive are being perceived and this corporate image is carried through generations. Co-operating of the company with the community creates brand champions through trust - leading to a tangible “Circle of Virtue”: “The least that the community can do, is to buy their products” (respondent of study).

Bhattacharya points to that the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) consists of many illegal immigrants - which makes market research understandably difficult and the sample therefore was comparatively smaller.
However, one result of the research is to show that social benefits are more important than health benefits. And those who participated in the program where much more likely to see the dentist (6 % versus 36%).

Now: what happens to the ones who do not participate but have an awareness of the program? Good things happen, says Bhattacharya. The cause drives the brand trust, this in turn drives brand purchase and behaviour. All this are almost exclusively intrinsic attributions that drive trust, extrinsic attributions are statically insignificant.

The overall findings are that there is clear evidence of stakeholder returns, which are associated with company returns and, again, the evidence of the “Circle of Virtue” (via trust and intrinsic motives).

III. Employee Engagement

Internal marketing is becoming increasingly important - Bhattacharya states that the internal arena by now is as important as the external one. His research group went to assess stakeholder returns to CSI among employees, to assess the company returns and the combination of both. P&G has a signature initiative on water, Bhattacharya constructed eight employee focus groups (each with a professional moderator). The result in regards awareness was high towards a general company involvement, but low about specific programs. They would like to see a more agressive marketing of this within the company. There are four employee needs: self-enhancement, the work-life integration, the reputation shield and the bridge to company. These needs depend on contextual factors such as location and the position of the employee within the company.

Self-esteem: CSI provides employees opportunities to enhance themselves in learning job skills, growing as a person (also: encouragement to engage in charitable work).

Work-life integration: “CSI gives more meaning”.

Reputational shield: Defence against negative perceived reputation, it “humanizes” the company and protects the self-esteem of employee. This relates to the immediate environment of the employees (family, friends) as well as to how an employee is generally perceived.

According to Bhattacharya, the “bridge to company” factor is particularly dominant in sales offices.

Company returns are positive attitudes in intrinsic and extrinsic motives.

Importantly, employees want to design the program, they wanted the company to facilitate and provide the guiding and resources - but themselves being in charge and responsible. The positive notion of reciprocity is illustrated through matched funding (of the employees favourite charity etc.) that breaks into the work-life balance, in that employees then don’t mind to get up at 5.30 working for the company. (the nasty side of CSI in destroying the work-life balance through emotional engagement is being ignored by Bhatta)

CSR brands reap greater relationship benefits than non-CSR brands - there is a spillover effect and a synergy between traditional and new, innovative CSR marketing.

CSR and firm stock performance - in journal marketing October 2006 - (he says it’s online, couldn’t find it, let me know if you’ve found it) showing that CSR has impact on market value and social returns through customer satisfaction.

There is clear empirical evidence that if you are an innovative company, market performance gets up, and if you are not innovative at all, your market performance goes down.

Nice approach. Then he must have found the answer to this ongoing, tedious discussion of the business case? He ends with repeating the question of his speech: So does it pay to be a good citizen? His answer: It depends!

Or, to quote Erich Kästner: Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer man tut es. :)


Good Business

shake_hands.jpgDr. Wilhelm captured the stage again as key note speaker after the dinner (btw an excellent one, don’t get me started on this). Funny enough, he quoted a NEPAD executive’s speech from the opening session of the Bonn IBF conference from the beginning of the week. And, he ends with a brief but true demand: Do business, but do it in a good and profitable way.



hu-logo2.jpgAfter the morning keynotes, the entire conference moved into a different building – the quite impressive Paul-Löbe-Haus, a politicians’ beehive immediately next to the Bundeskanzleramt. Of course, I felt like a politician (minus the tie), observed by classes of wee schoolchildren trying to figure out whether or not I would actually board one of many black limousines waiting in front of the building. Never mind. Only sad thing about the building was that due to security constraints there was no WLAN available, so what follows is a brief account from my notes.

There was a wealth of lectures – which is the right occasion to congratulate Anja Schwerk for the months of hard work in putting this together: What a great job! The lectures often covered aspects which are just about now reach the awareness of companies in Germany - or, more interesting, they were bleeding edge in their own right. They ranked from a consumer perspective to CSR (most notably Good Brand’s recent survey on cause-related marketing) to a workshop on measuring performance and sustainable value creation – and why companies fail to quantify sustainability. Also, there was a session on labour, another one on regulation and yet another one on corruption. As I’d say, anyone only faintly interested in CSR would have been hard pressed not to find a session or a lecture of interest.

I picked the session on “What does corporate responsibility mean in different cultures and how should global companies handle the difference?”, so here are some impressions on this:

Van Miller from Northern Kentucky University looked at “CSR in Outsourcing”, focusing on Maquilas in Mexico. Based on information by the maquilaportal he looked at what the portal named as the “Top 100 Maquilas”. Key conclusion by Miller: „Human rights is not really an issue – it is not that salient: Labour is the issue”.

Sanford Moskowitz and Roxanne Rabe tackled the issue of “Bridging the cultural divide within MNCs and International Ventures” - as fuzzy as the title was the presentation. It’s actually been a while that I listened to professors discussing in broadest terms “Globalisation as a Western Ethical Model” and that the “Asian Model” (remind me again: what is Asia and how many countries does it include??) is less efficient than an obscure much needed universal code of ethics. Hmm.

Jürgen Wilhelm from German Development Service DED made up for this with quoting a lot of examples of “Practical experience of CSR programmes by German development co-operation”. Amongst other things, Wilhelm sees increasing CSR-interest in Nicaragua, where the DED assists in the founding of a CSR-organisation. Also, he points to successful development projects that are financed by the private sector. This includes an SME-mentoring program in Namibia, financed by local banks and a HIV/Aids program in Uganda, financed by a tea company.

He went on to discuss the well-known dichotomy of voluntarism versus a regulated corporate accountability (a quick “Hi” to Yvonne from the Nachhaltigkeitsrat :)), but poses this question within the context of developing countries: What works better? Hmm. Complex, me thinks, since this is tangent to the responsibility of MNCs in the informal sector - and to the benefits they can reap through that in learning about the “indigenous knowledge”.

(I remember that at this weeks’ InWent conference there had been a strong desire by the South to opt for “light regulation coupled with financial assistance” — whereby light refers to securing basic rights.)
Wilhelm ends with stark statements anyone from within the PSD-crowd will agree on: “Mugabe will not attract foreign investors” and “There are so many wonderful stories in Africa, but the media does not report on them”. True.
After a much needed coffee break, the audience heard the rapid account of what would have easily qualified for an entire 90 minute session - given in some 20 minutes by Liesl Riddle from George Washingthon (DC) University: A case study on “CSR as an informal institution: The case of Egypt.” So she referred at such speed that one couldn’t think, let alone write down what she said. I just somehow managed to get the impression that it must have been an excellent presentation, but to pin it down now?

There’s a comment I need to make, though: We all know that life in globalisation times got “americanized” to a large extent. Germans have learned English, most of us can cope to a satisfying degree or more - but: what about people from Eastern Europe, new EU member states or, for that matter, from Portugal, Greece and other countries who have not been graced by a 40+ year presence of US/UK soldiers? If I didn’t get a lot out of that lecture, how would they feel?

Ah well, it will all be online soon, giving us the opportunity to follow through. Gotta go now, more later…

Update: I knew it was good: Here you go - Presentation by Riddle


Boston CCC: reframing the role of business

googins.jpgIt’s conference week: I could not avoid attending the 2nd International Conference on CSR in Berlin. As they’ve got WLAN available, I will try to blog it - forgive me for any misunderstandings or wrong perception and interpretation of ideas - mistakes are all mine.

There’s Bradley Googins starting just now. He’s a former student of Brandeis, of all things (disclaimer: me too…), and now runs the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. His focus is change, or the way in how it has been speeded up lately. His take on the private sector is, to recognise the changing role of business - and the changing of the role of government. Not that this in itself would be particularly new, but he has just finished a research study with 25 CEOs of MNCs, posing his frame in front of them and asking, if there are implications of this towards a much needed change in leadership within businesses.

Googins’ main point: Businesses can no longer afford to be bystanders in the process. They already do take sides. Isn’t that a bit like “It is not possible not to communicate” or Mary Anderson’s background to “Do no harm”: “presence is not neutral. It influences the context”, I thought.
CSR is at a very early stage in capturing the necessity to adopt to the responsibilities they de facto have: while 51 of the 100 largest “bodies” (in regards to value and GDP) are companies and 49 states, they have only adopted to the compliance issues introduces, while not seizing the opportunities this responsibility.

Googins presents a survey (can’t read source) on the trust of different players citizens bring towards all three sectors. NGOs rated highest, corporations at the very bottom end.

He points to the growing inequities on our planet and then, aptly connection, to fat cat pay rises, and closes this critical remark with some more positive some examples that show opportunities, such as SC Johnson (?) and the ecomagination campaign by GE. And, he adds that he perceives the new GRI G3 as a very promising step forward.

A McKinsey Study (2005) looked at the CEOs perspectives and tactics for the future. They have four issues: Increasing transparency, implementing internal CSR policies, engaging stakeholders, industry coalitions for self regulation.

Then there’s a real compliment for “German” corporations: They seem to by far outperform US companies in regards reporting (only 18% of US companies - sample: the largest 200 companies worldwide - report on their CSR activities, the percentage of German companies doing this is much higher… didn’t get the figure). However, he does not discuss whether or not this is mainly a PR exercise - leading on to an at first sight quite funny chart, connecting the to-do’s of companies within a sort of mindmap cloud.

He goes through the stages of corporate citizenship (CC), starting from donations and philanthropy up to Business Practices, naming Starbucks, HP, AMD - and their quest for the “sweet spot” i.e. business case in CC. His earlier mentioned CEO survey was quite a surprise: when talking with (and taping) CEOs, they seemed to have more time than Googins originally thought: actually always more than an hour. Quite amazing, I thought, especially since their word is weighted on gold scales by shareholders and the investment community, who has nothing else to do…
New Reality emerging:

1. Business perspective is moving from shareholder to stakeholder (a quote by Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO IBM), but still: Milton Friedmans quote of “The business of business is business” remains the paradigm of Wallstreet.

2. Deregulation comes at a price: the benefits of economic prosperity can only be harnessed, whenever the responsibility that is connected to the opportunity which in turn is the reason for pushing towards deregulation.

3. Short-term thinking does not provide solution for long-term problems.

Creating a soft landing to Globalisation means to use the positive contributions economy brings to society - and, of course, the secret of success is to do what one aims for and wants to be good at without generating envy in the world around. It is this that creates the demand for business leaders that recognise their importance in and value to society.

Update: Googins’ keynote.


MDGs and business - African perspectives

bongos2.jpgI am just back from a conference on the “Business Challenge Africa”, putting business into the responsibility - and opportunity - framework for working towards the Millenium Development Goals. Again, there were lots of interesting business ideas, most of which were sourced from within countries such as Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa, do have a look at the case study section of the background paper on the conference (link above, right hand navigation, as there is no separate url provided).

What worries me, though, is that all topics CSR are present and known by representatives of North as well as South. Everyone - even Nestle - agrees on the role business can play in eradicating poverty through providing opportunity and that there is a business case (arghh, this discussion must raise its ugly head at every conference only vaguely related to CSR, mustn’t it?) for it. However, where’s the beef? There’s far too little serious (not in moral but in bottom line terms) and scalable multi-sectoral partnerships involving MNCs with NGOs and/or governmental agencies.

Ah well, suppose there’s a time for everything?


Dutchman, leading with flying colours

dutchman.jpgThe Dutch national committee for international coorperation and sustainable development (NCDO) is behind the Business in Development Network (BiD), an online-community that wants to boost entrepreneurship in developing countries. They have just awarded 16 business concepts within their BiD challenge.

Have a look, there are some clever, scalable ideas there, amongst them solutions for sustainable business solutions and recycling, such as the utilization of sugar cane.
With the activities of NCDO it seems that governmental agencies eventually take up the challenge of promoting local business in developing countries - wouldn’t it be great to see more of this from the likes of GTZ, DFID?


Ethical fundraising

vert-cover-poker.jpgThis weekend’s Observer ran an interesting piece on the UK Tory Party’s fundraising: While Sting and his wife Trudi Styler, Jemima Khan, her partner Hugh Grant and some 26 others paid 10.000 GBP a head to play cards at an exclusive London member’s club, they thought they did so to raise money for an environmental charity. A spokesman for the organiser Zac Goldsmith said, this money had been raised:

for Ecology Grants Ltd, a not for profit company set up to receive non-charitable monies from environmental fundraising events organised by the Goldsmith family. Its aim is to promote sustainable development for the benefit of the public.

According to the Observer, this event was planned to raise thousands of pounds for the Conservative party. The Goldsmith spokesman is further quoted saying:

However , should the decision be taken to pass some of the money raised to the Quality of Life Policy Group (QLG), this would not be incompatible with the stated aims of the evening, since one of the QLGs aims is to put environmental issues and solutions into the public remit so that they are picked up by the political process.

Goldsmith is vice-chairman of QLG, the policy group on the environment for the Tory-hope-and-happiness-next-primeminister-to-be David Cameron.

I don’t know how Sting and Co. feel about this, but I wonder, what Cameron’s chief advisor Steve Hilton thinks about this false labeling. I have worked with Steve at Good Business and appreciate him as one of the smartest and sharpest guys I know. If he keeps his lifestyle as it was *and* stays chief advisor to Cameron, a new page could turn for toryism that will further push new labour into shade in their polished, trendy townhouses and airy loft appartments. To me that’s quite in line with what Cameron now experiences: Glamour doesn’t pay.


GRI-conference: shun the Equator and principle NGOs

munttoren.jpgMartina from Eldis blogs the current GRI conference, where GRI G3 is officially released - more information on the draft version of these guidelines for Corporate Responsibility at Ethical Corporation.

The Equator principles have been criticised for dealing only with project finance and to ignoring other forms of lending which can also lead to negative social and environmental impact. Also, the well-known Global Compact problem of “Free Riders” applies to these principles, too.

And, the debate of lacking NGO-accountability raised their head for the umpteenth time:

Why should corporations listen to calls for greater transparency and engage with NGOs criticism, if the NGOs themselves are perceived to be unaccountable and non-transparent?

As Martina points out, NGOs have done a lot in the last few years to improve their accountabilty but as there seems to be a marked difference between the business of business and the business of NGOs, acountability standards should probably be handled differently anyway. However, she concludes that there is a clear business case for NGOs to do better - as long as they want to engage with the business community.


BoP till you drop

bop2.jpgManagement guru C.K. Prahalad gave a lecture to World Bankers at their headquarter on “Democratising commerce”. He has a critical take on an aid industry of governments and NGOs that tends to see the poor as victims to be helped. Instead, he argues for seeing the poor as part of the solution, focussing on wealth creation at “the bottom of the pyramid” (what he calls BoP). To have this less of an abstract guru talk, he backed it up with a number of cases, all of them private sector solutions to development .

However, the PSD blog asks, although these examples are excellent and exciting stories,

How do these solutions “scale” in Nicaragua or Laos or Moldova? With deep respect for Prahalad, I’d like to see more examples of bottom of the pyramid solutions in smaller developing countries. Surely we’re interested in more than the Indian or Chinese or Brazilian pyramid.

Update: Commenting on this, points to their database, searchable by country/region as well as activity type (e.g. water, education, financial services, business development), providing BOP examples from Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa.


Coffee to ease ethnic tensions?

Coffee brings people togetherThe World Bank PSD blog points to a piece the BBC had on coffee plantations in Rwanda. Apart from producing fair trade and high-quality coffee, coffee growing reportedly produces healing and reconciling effects of joint work by Hutus and Tutsis, fostering understanding and providing “a practical programme (…) that brings people together.”

Here’s more details on this.

Update: After seeing Black Gold, Coffee will never taste the same, reads the blurb. Pienso adds to this the debate on Fair trade at the World Bank blog.


If it’s a fashion, scale it

gapredcampaign2.jpgThe blog at Center for Global Development has a great post on “fashion poverty”.

If the movement to fight poverty among the famous and fashionable (and among the masses of young people who pay attention to them) proves to be just a trend, it will not be because they stopped caring about the poor. It will be because development experts–who work tirelessly studying and writing and knocking on the doors of the policy elite of Washington–forgot to offer them real, scalable solutions.

That doesn’t only apply to the famous and fashionable, but to all the tsunami donors, too, me thinks - and of course this includes all laudable efforts of CSR-departments worldwide: Where are the real, scalable solutions that keep MNCs continuously involved?