Professor Jem Bendell

Notes from a strategist & educator on social & organisational change, now focused on #DeepAdaptation

Archive for 2009

The UN and Fashion – its a new trend

Posted by jembendell on December 29, 2009

My work in the last few years on sustainable luxury seemed to some to be a bit of a break with my more development and international policy focus, albeit on corporate responsibility. I sought to promote sustainable luxury for a range of reasons, but one was to leverage high end brands to help make sustainability sexy in urban middle class Asia as fast as possible. NGOs can’t do that. Gucci could. Well, it seems the wave of eco cool is sweeping China’s youth, even if not their Copehagen delegation.

This new work led me in new and unusual directions, even stepping out on a cat walk, at an eco fashion show in Hong Kong run by EcoChic Fashions, in October 08. But as I still lived in Geneva and was working on finishing a couple of projects with UNRISD and UNSSC, the UN was still in my mind. Earlier that year, by Lac Leman, Louise Barber of the UNOG had told me that 2009 was to be the international year of natural fibres (yes, really, it was), and 2010 the international year of biodiversity. So, I mused, why not hold an eco fashion show at the UN, to promote these ideas, and encourage industry engagement? And, of course, have the fun of seeing a cat walk in the middle of the UN. I connected her, Eduardo Escobedo at UNCTAD, and Christina Dean at Green2Greener, and with their dedicated colleagues, the event is now upon us.  And.. you can even attend! If you register. See below.

Perhaps international cooperation could become the new fashion?! It may not seem like that after COP15, but in light of that intergovernmental impasse, the more innovative ways the UN can catalyse change the better!

Redefining Sustainability in the International Agenda: Inspiring Greater Engagement in Biodiversity Issues

January 20–21, 2010

Room XIX – Palais des Nations, UN

Geneva, Switzerland

UNCTAD and Green2greener invite you  to come and join the more than 500 prominent figures from government, international organizations, and industry as they meet in Geneva on 20-21 January to call for action against the rapid loss of the world’s biodiversity.

This timely seminar will provide a collaborative platform to discuss the need to redefine sustainability. Through the viewpoint of the fashion and luxury industries, participants will gain a unique insight into the role that governments, businesses, and consumers can play in supporting biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Through interactive panel discussions and in-depth case studies, the 1.5 day seminar will cover issues such as

·         Redefining Sustainability: Why Biodiversity and Why Now?

·         How to Implement a Successful Sustainability Strategy

·         Educating and Engaging Consumers in Biodiversity Issues

·         The Rise of the Ethical Consumer and Eco-Fashion in the Mass Market

·         Luxury Brands as Sustainable Role Models

·         Environmental Traceability, Accountability and Certification

·         The Role of the Creative Industries in Developing Economies

·         The Role of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

·         Paving the road towards the CBD COP 10 and the revision of the International Biodiversity Targets.

Confirmed participants include representatives from business, international organizations, government, media and NGOs such as:

·            Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

·            Willen Wijnstekers, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

·            Dermot Rowan, Managing Director, Orla Kiely

·            Burak Cakmak, Director CSR, Gucci Group

·            Giulia Di Tommaso, Director of Legal Policy and International Relations, Unilever

·            Jean-Fraçois Fournon, Global Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Simko

·            Hans Steisslinger, Head R&D Natural Cosmetics, Weleda Group AG

·            Peter Ingwersen, Founder, Noir

·            Tamsin Blanchard, Style Director, The Telegraph Magazine

·            Sarah Ratty, Founder and CEO, Ciel

·            Alphadi, President & Founder, Festival International de la Mode Africaine

·            Jean-Luc Ansel, Director General, Cosmetic Valley

·            Isabel Berz, Director Fashion School, Istituto Europea di Design Madrid

·            Kate Dillon, Model and M.P.A. in international development

·            Tamsin LeJeune, Founder, Ethical Fashion Forum

·            Erin O’Conner, Model

·            Summer Rayne Oaks, Model and Sustainability Strategist, SRO

and many others….

This must-attend event has been co-organised by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and Hong Kong charity Green2greener as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

All activities will take place in Room XIX in the Palais des Nations (E-Building, third floor).

Pre-registration for the seminar is essential.

For further information, please contact Eduardo Escobedo at +41 22 917 5607 or by email eduardo.escobedo@unctad.org or visit http://www.unctad.org

Posted in Geneva, Sustainable Development, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

True collaboration paves the way to divinity – year end update

Posted by jembendell on December 20, 2009

“True collaboration paves the way to divinity”
The Mother (the founder of Auroville).

I write from Auroville, in India, a place that aspires “to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and harmony, above all creeds, all politics and nationalities.” In that spirit, I wish you a happy holiday, doing whatever brings you closer to that sense of human unity. As with all things the aspirations exceed the material reality, but those aspirations for Auroville are still inspiring.

As I’ve been involved in producing some new resources in the past year, Im writing a general work update for the end of the year, to quickly update you on those outputs, some of which may be of use or interest.

At Lifeworth we have relaunched the corporate responsibilty jobs portal, which with thousands of jobs on it is now the most comprehensive source of opportunities in this field. We have also relaunched our consulting practice bringing together 18 associates in 9 countries with a focus on organisational strategies for social change. One of the main areas I’ve been focusing is the luxury sector. If interested, check out a programme for CNBC on eco luxury that I helped edit, and the report for WWF. I’m currently finishing a book on sustainable luxury management, which follows a recent book on luxury brands with one of Spain’s leading business women. The network I launched to connect professionals in the emerging sustainable luxury sector has now grown to over 600 participants, and we are the online network for the UN’s first major fashion show, happening in January. My societal aim for this work is to help affirm in people who are not usually reached by eco messages, that sustainable lifestyles are aspirational and fulfiling. My professional aim is to advise on strategy with elite organisations that can act quickly.

We have continued producing our annual reviews of trends in corporate responsibility, the 8th annual review focusing on how the rise of Asian societies is influencing, and will influence, the environmental and social dimensions of business practice worldwide. If you think your organisation could benefit from being recognised as a supporter of the next review, out in a month, do get in touch as we still seek an additional sponsor.

At Griffith Business School (GBS) in Australia we’ve successfully launched the new Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, and a new Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise, which I developed and recently taught. I was pleased we came 5th outside the US in the Aspen rankings of responsible business MBAs; it will soon be 3 years since I began working with the Pro Vice Chancellor on his agenda of making GBS a leader in sustainability education, so it is good to see the impact. We recently hosted an Asia Pacific conference on corporate responsibility, and I interviewed a number of the delegates. I’m looking forward to achieving more with GBS in the coming year.

It’s now 14 years that I’ve worked to transform business and finance to make it more enabling of fair and sustainable societies. One question has remained throughout: how best to do contriubute to such change. However, Ive come to realise that the “how best” to create change question cant be answered definitively, and what’s important is to find people who have that same question underpinning their work. So my new question is whether I will meet enough people in this field who are commited to creating meaningful and lasting change, and so continually learning about that. It’s about coming together with people as part of a social movement to transform business and finance. I explored this in my latest book, The Corporate Responsibility Movement, published earlier this year. I recommend the introduction, which can be bought cheaply.

One of the tools of any movement is its mobilising structures, and networks are key to that. So In my last project for the UN I focused how organisations use networks for advocacy, and they could be better at it. The paper was critically constructive, but some of the criticisms didnt go down too well with the participants. That reminded me of the dangers of becoming attached to the idea that we are doers of good, so that our self esteem is threatened by any question whether we actually do good. The danger is we fail to see, to learn and adapt. I also relearned the importance of taking the time to work on the interpersonal. I continue to be reminded how our states of mind, our consciousness, are most important in us being effective in any efforts to improve something. The implications of that insight for professional practice are difficult, as it’s not something easily discussed or sold within an organisational setting. It’s something I hope to explore further through my board role in the Global Vision Institute, advisory board role in the Source of Synergy Foundation, and maybe discussions with people here in Auroville!

I’m here until mid-March so drop by if you are near. One local project Im helping with is the governance system for a community currency. Its leading me to reflect on whether support for local economies through some use of local currencies is one way that businesses could help address the systemic inequalities our current financial systems create. Meanwhile in Geneva, the CSR Geneva network I established with colleagues is thriving, with over 600 members and regular events. I look forward to helping organise events there in 2010, on transformational change.

If you are interested in accessing my earlier publications, nearly all of them are available on my personal website. I also link from there to my blog, where I comment on various things and, at times, even attempted poetry. You can also find me on Linked In and Facebook, and my other contact info follows below.

I plan and hope for various things in 2010, most of which take forward the areas outlined above. But who knows, maybe a benefactor will come along and collaborate to unfold our common divinity.

Thanks for reading through this big list of things… I hope one of the links proves helpful. I plan to only send out such generic emails every few years, so if you want to hear from Lifeworth Consulting more often, then subscribe, or if you want to hear from me more often, subscribe to my personal site.

Happy Xmas.
Jem

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New Consulting Site

Posted by jembendell on November 11, 2009

I am delighted to announce the launch of the new Lifeworth Consulting website. It maps out what is key about what we do, and allows us to share some of the outputs of our work, such as our publications. There are three ways to navigate the site. First, you can select from the main menu. From here you can see an outline of “what” we do, including the services of strategy, creativity, communications, liaison and education:. In addition is takes you to information on the work programmes we have, including Authentic Luxury, Enterprise Trends and Engaging Change. Clicking on “with” will show you who we have been working with. If you want to see the 18 of us who are associated with Lifeworth Consulting, click on “who”. If you want to know the approach we take and the principles underlying our work, click on “how”. If you click on “Insight” you can access our latest “publications”, read our latest “news and views” or even watch us in “videos”.

Another way to navigate the site is to click on the tags in the *Jump To* box on the right hand column. The tags in this box will keep changing as the content evolves over time. A third way to delve into what we do is to click on news items, such as those in the *Where We Are* box, and then from there you can click on the category of the news item, to view related content.

We hope this will provide a way for you to get the information you need. If you like what we do, then click “connect” in the main menu to find out how to engage us, or sign up to our quarterly updates.

The site is driven by wordpress software. It again demonstrates the potential of open source software, after our new responsible enterprise careers portal, which is based on Drupal software. In the digital age, owning code is like owning the rights to using a pen and paper. I think it is in keeping with our transformative approach that we are now part of this open source movement.

Thanks to Sam Baja for working on the site for us, and thank you for visiting.

Dr. Jem Bendell
Founder/Director of Lifeworth and Lifeworth Consulting

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Thousands of Jobs Hunted Down for You

Posted by jembendell on October 7, 2009

There are over 2000 jobs currently on Lifeworth’s job site. After 8 years providing information on jobs and events in the field of responsible enterprise, our website has evolved. Now we automatically pull together relevant jobs and events from dozens of websites. We can even send you a weekly email with only those jobs and events that match your interests. But that’s only if you log into Lifeworth.com and specify your interests in your “employment profile”. If not, then you will receive an email from us once a month, which is what you originally signed up for.

You can, at any time, visit the site, and browse or search the jobs and events. You can also upload your own, for free! If you want your Resume/CV to do the job hunting for you, then sign in and upload it on your employment profile, and employers and recruiters may contact you directly.

All subscribers to our old system have received an email with new login details. Apologies if it was a bit brief. If you can not locate that email, then go to the following page, and enter the email you originally subscribed with and you will generate a new password: http://www.lifeworth.com/user/password

Or, you can always create a new account at http://www.lifeworth.com/user/register

The new terms and conditions for the service are listed on the site.

We hope you find it this a useful service, helping you keep abreast of jobs and events in your field, without having to do the searching yourself!

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Sustainable Enterprise Summer School in Australia

Posted by jembendell on October 1, 2009

Study sustainable enterprise in Brisbane, with world experts, during the Australian summer, and be half way to a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise.  The two 5 day intensive courses are taught from November 28th and January 16th, by Dr Jem Bendell and Professor Malcolm McIntosh at Griffith Business School. Sign up by October 23rd, using the course links below.

The summer school is offered by the new Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise and comprises:

Stakeholder Management (7507GBS)
28 November – 2 December 2009 (inclusive)

This course provides students with a greater understanding of the business-society relations that shape sustainable enterprise and finance. Participants explore the various organisations constituting the business environment and the different ways of engaging them. The latest challenges in investor relations, consumer relations, government relations, and relations with non-governmental organisations are explored, covering topics such as sustainable marketing and responsible investment. More on the course is at http://www3.griffith.edu.au/03/STIP4/app?page=CourseEntry&service=external&sp=S7507GBS

Sustainable Enterprise, Leadership and Change (7508GBS)
16 January – 20 January 2010 (inclusive)

This course enables students to integrate their understanding of, and invigorate their commitment to, the generation of sustainable enterprise. Students will explore enterprise solutions to societal challenges, such as social disadvantage and biodiversity conservation. With visits to relevant organisations and communities, and development of sustainable enterprise plans, students will learn concepts, styles and skills of leadership that are relevant to sustainable enterprise. More on the course is at http://www3.griffith.edu.au/03/STIP4/app?page=CourseEntry&service=external&sp=S7508GBStgraduate-courses.

The Tutors

Stakeholder Management is taught by Dr Jem Bendell, who has been promoting and supporting responsible business as a consultant, academic and entrepreneur for 14 years. As a director of the progressive professional services firm, Lifeworth, he has worked with corporations, NGOs and United Nations agencies on corporate responsibility issues in over a dozen countries. He is a leading international commentator on corporate responsibility, with over 50 publications on this subject, including three books, a column and four United Nations reports. He has helped create a number of innovative responsible enterprise initiatives, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, and his work has been credited with inspiring the formation of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative. He is an expert in cross-sector partnering, and in recent years has become a specialist in sustainable luxury, appearing at conferences and on television about the future of the industry.

Sustainable Enterprise, Leadership and Change is taught by Professor Malcolm McIntosh,  a writer, broadcaster and teacher on corporate citizenship, sustainability and accountability. Professor McIntosh has pioneered teaching corporate responsibility and sustainability in universities in the UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and been involved in publishing over ten books in this area and producing films for BBC TV. He has been a Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General’s Global Compact, and has worked for UNEP, the ILO and UNDP and many global corporations, including Shell, BP, Pfizer and ABB and a number of INGOs. He has been an adviser to the governments of the UK, Norway and Canada on CSR strategy. He was Founding-Editor of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship. He is the Founding Director of Griffith’s new Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise.

Part of the South Bank campus

Part of the South Bank campus

Jem

Jem

Malcolm

Malcolm

Posted in Academia and Research, Lifeworth, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What will success look like for the CSR Movement?

Posted by jembendell on July 27, 2009

In recent months Ive been talking more widely about the existence of a new social movement of people who are making business and finance contribute to a world that is sustainable and fair. Im talking more with social entrepreneurs and social activists, and I find many people who have a sense of urgency and leadership are surprised at my view, as they regard mainstream CR or CSR as an effort to maintain the corporate status quo, not fundamentally transform it. In response I agree that much CSR is lacking, but I point to those initiatives, projects and people within the corporate world who are working of more systemic transformations of markets – whether through influencing standards, regulations, mindsets or financing systems. Yet, in these conversations, I realise that we dont have a clear set of successes to point to – so many of the examples are about the incredible efforts that people are making, rather than the results being achieved. Any movement needs to know what success looks like. So, it was interesting last month to hear a CR leader, Simon Zadek, ask a class of students to reflect on what they considered real CSR successes to date. I encourage you to reflect on these questions.

What is the most successful multistakeholder initiative and why?
What is the most important piece of CSR legislation, from a CSR perspective?
Think of three CSR CEOs who you believe have demonstrated CSR success, and what have they been successful at?
Think of a civil society leader who has promoted CSR really effectively?
What is it that you still dont know about CSR, and is critical to you future work?

Perhaps you could forward this email to your colleagues in your team, so you can discuss your responses together. I also invite you to post your responses on my blog, at https://jembendell.wordpress.com/

If you are interested in what it could mean for your own work to be part of a CSR movement,  I encourage you to get my book on the topic for your organisation’s library. “The Corporate Responsibility Movement”, available from.  http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/productdetail.kmod?productid=2767

This message was included in the Lifeworth CSR jobs Bulletin for July.  To sign up for that bulletin, issued about once a month, visit http://lifeworth.com/main/sign-up/

Posted in ALN, Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Asian CSR set to reshape the global business environment, according to Lifeworth review.

Posted by jembendell on May 25, 2009

Press release, 25th May 00.01 GMT, Lifeworth, Manila.

Asia is becoming a leading region for corporate social responsibility (CSR), as its businesses gain international influence, according to some leading CSR academics and practitioners, writing in the eighth global review from a CSR consulting firm. “Diverse Asian approaches to responsible enterprise will increasingly affect business practices around the globe. Not only can this trend be welcomed, it is essential to achieve a fair and sustainable world,” argues lead author of the review, Dr Jem Bendell.

The Eastern Turn In Responsible Enterprise describes the rise of Asian business and finance that was hastened by events during 2008. It argues that although expanding economic power generates difficult social and environmental challenges, the world needs Asian business and society to help innovate the technologies, processes and concepts that will help us meet the critical challenges of our time, such as climate change and poverty eradication. It explores some initial implications of this global shift, and some characteristics of Asian forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). “In order for executives to respond to the global challenges of our time, we must recognise and learn from sustainable innovations that are occurring everywhere, including across Asia, not just in one region,” concludes Dr Bendell, director of Lifeworth.

The review begins by chronicling the economic rise of Asia. The region has become home to the majority of the world’s middle classes. Asia now trades amongst itself more than with the rest of the world and it holds the vast majority of the world’s savings. Asian businesses continue to acquire famous brands from the West. “The current crisis has sharply accentuated the Eastern Turn in the world order,” notes the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, Professor Michael Powell, in a foreword. The shift in global power is one of a number of implications of the economic crisis for responsible enterprise and finance that the review explores in detail.

The review shows how this rise in economic power is being followed by a rise in activity on the social and environmental performance of business. It describes how domestic factors within Asian societies are driving CSR, such as growing environmental awareness. Director of ethical reputation analysts Covalence, Antoine Mach explains that “coverage of CSR issues in Asia by the press and non-governmental organisations continues to grow year on year.” This domestic pressure marks a development from recent years where Western interests have been key in encouraging the adoption of CSR codes by Asian business.

Commenting on the review, Stephen Hine of the responsible investment analysts EIRIS, explains that “whilst CSR has traditionally been seen as something primarily undertaken by Western companies there is increasing evidence of it being seen as important by Asian companies.” The review provides data on the growth of CSR-related activities, such as the level of reports, institutes, and certifications on social and environmental performance. For instance Asia has become the top region for IS014001 environmental management certifications and reports issued in compliance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. It also highlights some environmental innovations from Asian businesses, such as BYD Auto in China, which is rapidly establishing itself as a leading electric car maker, and BetterPlace.com from Israel, which is a developing integrated electric car recharging systems with auto makers. “It is increasingly clear that many people in Asia see the need for a focus on responsible enterprise and will increasingly lead the way in responsible business development,” notes Professor Powell.

Rising academic interest in CSR within Asia is also chronicled. The review is published to coincide with the launch of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Griffith Business School in Australia. Professor Powell sees the potential for business schools to help address the changing global business environment. “No fewer than 30 business schools in the “East” have signed on to the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education and that number is growing all the time.” he writes in a foreword.

“The Eastern Turn in responsible enterprise is not an option,” explains Professor Jeremy Moon of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), at the University of Nottingham, a leader in internationalising research on CSR. “It brings new normative, conceptual and operational challenges,” he explains in the review. The Eastern Turn in Responsible Enterprise postulates on some common characteristics of Asian CSR in comparison to the West, highlighting implications for policy, practice, and research.

Also author of the new book The Corporate Responsibility Movement, which describes the emergence of a social movement of business people transforming corporations, Dr Bendell concludes that people working on CSR could benefit from more cross-cultural dialogue on globally responsible enterprise and finance. The review even suggests that insight into new forms of business and finance after the crisis could come from such a dialogue, pointing in particular to the Gandhian concept of the trusteeship of assets.

Further Information:

The review can be viewed for free via http://www.lifeworth.com where a fully referenced electronic or hardcopy can also be purchased.

The review is published by Lifeworth Consulting, a boutique professional services firm specialising in responsible enterprise strategy, evaluation and education. It includes the quarterly reviews from the Journal of Corporate Citizenship (http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com). It is written by Jem Bendell, Niaz Alam, Sandy Lin, Chew Ng, Lala Rimando, Claire Veuthey, and Barbara Wettstein.

The ideas in the review will be discussed at a conference organised by the Asia Pacific Academy of Business in Society (APABIS), in November 2009 (http://www.apabis.org). A special issue of the the journal Business Strategy and the Environment will also explore these issues in connection with inter-organisational collaboration, edited by the lead author of the review (https://jembendell.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/asia-pacific-csr-partnerships/).

The review is made possible with the support of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) at Nottingham Business School (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/business/ICCSR), Griffith Business School (http://www.griffith.edu.au/gbs), EIRIS (http://www.eiris.org), Covalence (http://www.covalence.ch) and Greenleaf Publishing  (http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com).

“The Corporate Responsibility Movement” is published by Greenleaf, March 2009, and is available at: http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/productdetail.kmod?productid=2767

To contact the authors of this review email enquiries at lifeworth.com.

Posted in Academia and Research, ALN, Corporations, Lifeworth, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Asia Pacific CSR Partnerships

Posted by jembendell on May 22, 2009

Engaging stakeholders for responsible enterprise and finance in the Asia Pacific

Call for Papers for a special issue of the journal Business Strategy and the Environment.

Edited by Jem Bendell, Juliet Roper and Eva Collins. Deadlines: 19th June 2009 1st November 2009

The formation of strategic alliances between companies for mutual commercial benefit is a widely used approach by contemporary business. The development of such alliances with non-commercial organisations, such as government agencies and voluntary associations, to deliver social and environmental outcomes, is a more recent phenomenon. In the past decade such cross-sectoral strategic alliances have become a key mechanism for pursuing corporate sustainability and responsibility. By bringing together their respective competencies and resources for the greater good, people in governments, business, civil society and multilateral agencies have sought innovative ways to respond to many contemporary sustainable development challenges: climate change; human security; the prevention and treatment of major diseases; ethics, governance and responsible investment; entrepreneurship and employment; pension and superannuation funds management; and, sustainable financing for development. Globally, the appetite for such strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement appears strong. Over 90% of corporate executives responding to a World Economic Forum survey felt that in future “partnerships between business, government, and civil society would play either a major role or some role in addressing key development challenges.” This interest is parralleled by an expanding literature on inter-organisational relations in management, organisation and international development studies, among other disciplines.

Although closer stakeholder engagement and new strategic alliances may hold considerable potential for promoting sustainable development, participants from the different sectors recognise that there are considerable inherent risks. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies are concerned that participation in consultations and alliances with business could threaten their integrity and independence. Businesses fear that too much time and money spent on stakeholder dialogue and alliances with not-for-profit organisations might divert them from their ultimate aim of producing goods and services as profit making enterprises in order to benefit their owners and workers. Governments often raise important questions about the legitimacy, governance, and accountability of cross-sector alliances, particularly those that exclude or undermine public sector interests. As strategic alliances have become more widely used mechanisms for policy development and implementation, these questions about their effectiveness and accountability become more important. In the Asia Pacific region (Asia, Australasia and the Pacific) the nature of societal challenges, the level of business interest in corporate responsibility, the capacity of civil society, and existence of good governance, vary greatly. The relevance and risks of cross-sectoral strategic alliances for sustainable development therefore also vary. This special issue of the journal Business Strategy and the Environment aims to bring together perspectives on the nature of stakeholder engagement and strategic alliances in the Asia Pacific region, to add to the international debate and practice of alliances for sustainable development, while also ensuring that insights are relevant to the specific contexts of practitioners, policy makers and educators in the Asia Pacific.

Call for Contributions:

We invite interdisciplinary papers on the topic of “Engaging stakeholders for responsible enterprise and finance in the Asia Pacific”. Interdisciplinary papers that tailor their research questions and analysis to the needs of identifiable user groups, whether in business, government or civil society will be particularly welcome. In particular, we invite papers that explore any of the following issues: The nature and impact of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement on responsible investment, financing and sustainable development across the Asia Pacific region. The characteristics of sustainable strategic alliances (e.g., aims, structure, decision-making, financing, communication) and how they influence performance. The strengths/weaknesses, and costs/benefits, of various types of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement and how their performance could be improved. The role of government and public policy in shaping business involvement in strategic alliances with the private sector and civil society across Asia Pacific. The personal competencies required for effective inception, management and scaling of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement. The likely future of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement in the Asia Pacific region, given current trends in the economy, politics, ecology and technology. The environmental, social and governance challenges and opportunities facing corporations and how their responses provide contexts for sustainable development and stakeholder engagement. Case studies relevant to the conference theme. Critical perspectives on the relevance or performance of cross-sectoral collaborations. Pedagogical and or curriculum initiatives surrounding teaching of strategic alliances in the area of sustainability

Submission procedures:

Abstracts (2-3 pages to a maximum of 1,000 words) can be submitted either for consideration for the special issue alone, or for a conference on this issue and also the journal. The conference is organised by the Asia Pacific Academy of Business in Society (APABIS), in November 2009. For consideration for the conference and the journal, submit your abstracts to Chris Auld c.auld@griffith.edu.au by 19 June 2009. All abstracts submitted for the conference will be reviewed and authors notified of acceptance by 13 July 2009. Abstracts for consideration for the journal and not the conference can be submitted until November 1st 2009. These should be sent to jb at lifeworth.com Authors will be notified by November 27th whether they are invited to provide full papers for consideration. Papers presented at the conference are more likely to be successful, due to the potential for greater feedback. Please visit http://www.apabis.org for further details on the APABIS conference.

Posted in Academia and Research | 4 Comments »

Applying ‘Movement Thinking’ to your work

Posted by jembendell on May 12, 2009

The scale of the challenges we face today, from climate change to economic instability, remind us that it is no longer smart, if ever, to plan our own work without attention to how we influence social change more generally on the issues that are of personal and strategic importance to us.

Based on some of the analysis in my new book, I have developed a simple process to applying ‘Movement Thinking’ to your responsible enterprise efforts.

APPLYING ‘MOVEMENT THINKING’

Social movements theories point to four categories of factors that shape the generation and development of social movements. Reflecting on how we relate to these factors can help us to understand our contribution to, or benefit from, a social movement. Work through the following questions to aid you in applying ‘movement thinking’ to your responsible enterprise efforts. Make notes on a piece of paper, and discuss them with a friend or colleague.

To understand more about these factors in movement generation, refer to pages 16-20 and 24-29 of The Corporate Responsibility Movement.

Assessing general movement participation

Ask yourself the following questions, in relation to your work on aspects of responsible business and finance.

1) How have I contributed to identification and pursuit of common interests of a particular group of people (like me)? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

2) How have I contributed to the development of shared identities and social ties? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

3) How have I contributed to mobilising resources for a particular group? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

4) How have I contributed to the shaping or identification of significant political and societal opportunities for further action? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

Applying a ‘movement approach’ to strategic responses to organisational challenges

Choose a particular organisational challenge you are working on that you recognise has public-interest dimensions. Ask yourself:

5) To what extent are my motivations for addressing this challenge instrumental (benefiting myself and employer), relational (benefiting my social relations at work and private life) and/or moral (relating to my values)? If relational or moral motives rank highly, go to question 7. If not, then go to question 6.

6) In some cases even instrumental reasons require collective changes in society in order to be successful at the organisational and personal level. To transform society in ways that help resolve a challenge you face, you may benefit from understanding how to interact positively with social movements. Therefore, if relational or moral reasons rated fairly low in the previous question, ask yourself what the limits of individual action might be on the challenge you have identified. – if you see the need to participate in social change for instrumental reasons, go to question 7.

7) With the specific organisational challenge in mind, work again through questions 1 to 4. i.e. append “related to the specific challenge I am working on now” to the end of each question.

Sharing

Share the results of your thought processes with professional confidants. Focus on the question “What more could I do, or be done”?

Share the results to the question “What more could I do, or be done?” here at https://jembendell.wordpress.com/by using the comments option below.

Example

Excerpt from page 28 of The Corporate Responsibility Movement

“As I [Jem Bendell] see myself as a participant in the corporate responsibility movement, I decided to test the theory on myself. I challenged myself to identify at least one thing that has emerged in me and one thing that has emerged from me for the corporate responsibility movement over the past 13 years, that relate to the four aspects of movement generation described above. In terms of common interest, I have learned that my interest is not related to a specific profession, such as consulting or academia, but with people who believe in being entrepreneurial in any sector in order to make economic activity contribute to a better world. For others in the movement, my consulting and training has sought to connect people to that sense of their own interest. In terms of common identity and ties, I have now developed camaraderie with people in a variety of sectors who are pioneering ways of making significant changes in business practice, and benefit from extensive networks of professional colleagues, many of whom I consider friends. For others in the movement, I have helped facilitate connections through online networks and newsletters, and promoted awareness of a potential common identity through my writings. In terms of resource mobilisation, I have benefited from people in the movement commissioning me to work with them on projects, and I have created more resources for such work by helping to conceive new non-profit organisations working on corporate responsibility that now have incomes of over a million dollars. In terms of opportunity structures, I have now benefited from the efforts of others to help shift the mainstream corporate responsibility agenda onto a more transformative one, and, for others in the movement, I have helped shape discursive opportunities through successfully challenging some mainstream interpretations of concepts through my writings.”

The book

The Corporate Responsibility Movement: Five Years of Global Corporate Responsibility Analysis from Lifeworth, 2001-2005

Jem Bendell et al. March 2009 387+viii pp 234 x 156 mm paperback ISBN 978-1-906093-18-1 £72.00 http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/productdetail.kmod?productid=2767

The advisors

This exercise was prepared by Dr Jem Bendell, Lifeworth Consulting, a responsible enterprise strategy advisory, evaluation, education, inspiration and liaison service. http://www.lifeworth.com

Posted in Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth | Leave a Comment »

Globalising Trusteeship

Posted by jembendell on April 12, 2009

Jem At Jallian Wala Bagh in April 2009

Jem Bendell visiting Jallian Wala Bagh in April 2009

On April 13th, ninety years ago, a British General ordered the firing on people peacefully protesting the repression of India. Mohandas K Gandhi was so moved by the massacre in Amritsar that he called for a special week to be observed every year – a Satyagraha Week. “Satya” means truth, “Graha” means both ‘involved in’ and ‘global’. Gandhi used satyagraha to describe a non-violent way of life, that does not participate in oppression wherever it occurs, and challenges it in non-violent ways. It became synonymous with India’s liberation movement.

Due to the work of Varsha Das and her colleagues at the Gandhi National Museum I was reminded of Gandhi’s teachings, and began re-reading what he said and did about life, politics and economics. As you probably are yourself, I was familiar with his famous phrases including that “we must be the change we want to see in the world’. But as I read on, I realised his views are very relevant to the current global economic crisis and the work I do on sustainable enterprise and finance.

The recent G20 failed to launch a deep reconsideration of the global economy, and some of its precepts, such as current concepts of property and a consumption-led economy. I suppose the pressures on the leaders for more-of-the-same were immense. But it has become clear that is up to us to begin a broader dialogue. Gandhi called for the Satyagraha Week to be one of fearless yet convivial dialogue about the truth of society and to redouble our efforts to live by that truth. Reading that affirmed some of the work I did this past year, with the Global Finance Initiative. After consultations with finance professionals and stakeholders in dozens of countries we concluded with a recommendation that dialogues on changes in financial systems are required that are:

  • Foundational, addressing profound questions about the purpose of the financial system and the principles that direct its actions;
  • Comprehensive, encompassing the connections between accounting systems, currencies, regulatory systems, economic structures and all parts of the financial system;
  • Inclusive, with processes reaching beyond traditional insiders, to engage responsible investors, multi-stakeholder groups working on finance issues, asset owners, labor, NGOs and critical academics, and be truly global;
  • Systemic, connecting financial stability to the real economy, social equity, and environmental sustainability.

This dialogue could be part of a global truth-seeking — a ‘Global Satyagraha’. Beyond his views on dialogue and truth-seeking, MK Gandhi’s views are relevant to the future of the global economy and our work on responsible enterprise and finance in at least four ways: economic equality, appropriate technology, self-reliance, and trusteeship.

Challenging both the caste system and negativity between religions, he promoted the equality of all peoples, which meant non discrimination in employment and economic affairs. He also believed that technology could be good if did needed work, but bad if it put people out of work. This philosophy led him to spend many hours working on the spinning wheel, a technology that was appropriate to the economic level of villagers across India at the time. Another important aspect of the spinning wheel was how it generated self-reliance. Gandhi spoke of ‘swadeshi’ or economic self-sufficiency, as the only way that India would achieve self-determination. He called on his country-people not to pay into the system of empire by buying foreign clothes. In our current context the implication here is not simply that we produce for ourselves, but that we seek to become independent of systems of exploitation for our own livelihoods and lifestyles.

Jem Bendell at site of MK Gandhi assasination, March 2009

Jem Bendell at site of MK Gandhi assasination, March 2009

These aspects of Gandhian economics are well documented and discussed. Like many business folk the world-over, many Indian executives do not see the relevance of these approaches to modern business, viewing them as anachronistic. Yet, in a resource-constrained and climate-threatened world, where hyper-inequality fuels violence, the need for principles and practices of equality, appropriateness and self-reliance to pervade business is clear.

What stunned me was the resonance of his views on ‘trusteeship’ with the latest thinking within the corporate responsibility movement. More of us have come to understand that we need to redesign the systems of corporate governance and finance in order to create more sustainable and responsible economies, and that business executives can and should engage in public policy debates to promote that redesign. In my latest book, I develop the concept of “capital democracy” to describe an economic system that responds to this understanding. I write:

Corporate Responsibility Movement, Bendell et al, March 2009

Corporate Responsibility Movement, Bendell et al, March 2009

“In a democratic society, property rights should only exist because people collectively decide to uphold them; they are not inalienable but are upheld by society as a matter of choice. Therefore, if society confers us the right of property, then we have obligations to that society. Today property rights have become so divorced from this democratic control that they are undermining other human rights. A reawakening to a basic principle is required: there can be no property right without property duties, or obligations. From such a principle, it should not be left up to the powerful to decide if they are responsible or not, or if they are carrying out their obligations or not. Instead, the focus shifts to the governance of capital by those who are affected by it” (Bendell, et al, 2009, Pg 33 to 34).

The Mahatma’s view of trusteeship is the same, but elegant in its simplicity. It arises from an understanding that everything is owned by everyone, and wealth is owned by those who generate it. Thus the one who controls an asset is not an owner but a trustee, being given control of that asset by society. Gandhi wrote “I am inviting those people who consider themselves as owners today to act as trustees, i.e., owners, not in their own right, but owners in the right of those whom they have exploited.” In the Harijan paper his views on trusteeship of property were later documented to clarify “It does not recognize any right of private ownership of property except so far as it may be permitted by society for its own welfare” and “under State-regulated trusteeship, an individual will not be free to hold or use his wealth for selfish satisfaction or in disregard of the interests of society.” He also wrote that “for the present owners of wealth… they will be allowed to retain the stewardship of their possessions and to use their talent, to increase the wealth, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of the nation and, therefore, without exploitation.” All those years ago the Mahatma was proposing an economic system that many people are only beginning to conceive of today. If you have my book, I apologise for my prior ignorance of Gandhi’s trusteeship concept. If you don’t have it under your trusteeship yet, hey, it’s still worth reading!

Sangeeta Das of the Gandhi Smriti Museum revealed to me how some Indian industrialists supported many of Gandhi’s ideas and applied some to their own business. Upon reading the views of some current Indian business leaders I see the concepts of equality and trusteeship have informed their voluntary corporate responsibility efforts. However, I am left with a sense that the concept of trusteeship has much untapped potential as an economic system, codified into public policy and regulation. The current crisis demonstrates the need to globalise trusteeship, or capital democracy, as an approach that can be debated and interpreted into new principles and policies for economics, finance and enterprise. In addition it is clear that concepts of appropriate technology and self-reliance have much more to offer both to corporate strategy and public policy than currently the case. I wonder whether Indian business leaders could play a role in bringing this insight to the world.

The life of Gandhi is important not only for his views on economic systems but also on how to bring them into being. In my book I argue that the global challenges we face mean those of us who work to make business better must start thinking and planning like a movement. “The corporate responsibility movement is a loosely organised but sustained effort by individuals both inside and outside the private sector, who seek to use or change specific corporate practices, whole corporations, or entire systems of corporate activity, in accordance with their personal commitment to public goals and the expectations of wider society.” (Bendell, et al 2009, pg 24). As a movement leader, we could learn from Gandhi’s mastery of symbolic communication combined with personal authenticity, his embrace of both dialogue and direct action, his respect for people no matter the differences, and his demonstration that we must ourselves disengage with systems that uphold a lie. More of us can mobilise our networks and knowledge for transformative ends. And if it means changing our lives to be less economically dependent on the status quo, then that’s what we must do.

The recent violence from authorities against protesters and bystanders (and the truth) at the G20 is yet another reminder of the need to learn how to engage in a transformative non-violent movement that provides people diverse ways to participate while sucking energy out of violent systems. On the 90th anniversary of the hundreds who died in Jallianwala Bagh, we can remember how their memory inspired millions in the pursuit of truth and freedom.

I will be discussing some of these ideas in a webinar, online, and seminar in Geneva, called: “The Corporate Responsibility Movement: Where are we going and why?” Seminar: Thursday May 14, from 12.30 to 14.00 Swiss time, Uni Mail, 40 bd du Pont d’Arve, Geneva, room MR 150 (ground floor, opposite the cafeteria). Register: csr@unige.ch.  Webinar: Tuesday May 19, from 16:30 to 18:00 UK time, organised by CSR International. Venue is “online”. Register: clemence@csrinternational.org http://www.csrinternational.org/?p=273

The Corporate Responsibility Movement, Jem Bendell et al. March 2009 ISBN 978-1-906093-18-1
http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/productdetail.kmod?productid=2767

Thx to Suzy, Satjiv, Inderpreet, Nandita, Varsha and Sangeeta for unwittingly guiding my serendipitous journey in India.

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth, My Life, Spirit?, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 3 Comments »