Professor Jem Bendell

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

Archive for the ‘Lifeworth’ Category

The Final Annual Review from Lifeworth – challenging Capitalism!

Posted by jembendell on February 1, 2010

For the past 9 years I have written an annual review of the corporate responsibility field. In each review I have focused on what I thought were key trends, and sought to promote heartfelt and progressive engagement in this field. 2010 is the final year of my writing quarterly reviews in the leading Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Next year, therefore, I will produce a new edited book, with co-author Ian Doyle, that analyses the last 5 years. Then, Ill focus less on written commentary and more on implementing the ideas and insights from the past decade.  So, as this is the final annual review, I thought it important to encourage us all to use this time of post-crisis reflection to go deeper, and see how our work might relate to the kind of economic transformations we need for a fair and sustainable world. Hence, when I saw how many people are now debating fundamental elements of “capitalism” I thought it important to bring this to the fore. Because, as the World Economic Forum draws to a close in Davos, the real debate about the future of our economic systems is only getting started… in the real world of people’s communities and businesses. The press release for the new review follows below.

Post-crisis, Capitalism now a focus for CSR, says Lifeworth Review

Press Release from Lifeworth. February 1st 2009.

Capitalism is up for debate, and that’s a good thing, according to a new review from a management consultancy. “The dual financial and climate crises are leading people in all walks of life to question the kind of economy that makes sense for their businesses, communities and families,” explains lead author of the review, Associate Professor Jem Bendell. “As well as some anger at bankers, the financial crisis has led many to ask deeper questions about finance in general and, therefore, about capitalism. From bars to seminars, bookshops to board meetings, capitalism is being discussed – openly and critically,” he claims.

Entitled “Capitalism in Question”, the annual review describes how politicians and even business leaders are calling for more critical assessment of what kind of economic system we need for a fair and sustainable future. The review from Lifeworth Consulting summarises over a dozen books that have been published in the last weeks that debate the relative merits of capitalism and what form of economic governance is needed post-crisis, and in a new era of economic power. “The majority of these new books seek to do something that previously seemed neither necessary or interesting − to defend capitalism,” says John Stuart of Greenleaf Publishing, which supports the review.

Bendell explains that defensiveness wont help. Referring to the “Restoring Trust” report overseen by Allianz, Barclays Capital, Blackstone, and Carlyle Group, among others, he said “seeking to defend one’s immediate interests, as the banks writing the recent World Economic Forum report clearly did, is not how we are going to discover together the next step in our economic evolution. Fearful people in incumbent institutions may waste our time with diversionary drivel, but real exploration of the core issues is unavoidable. The question now is who should participate and how.”

Co-author of the review, Lifeworth Consulting’s Ian Doyle, explained that “much of the corporate social responsibility, or CSR agenda, has been predicated on a belief that government is constrained by global finance and can, or should, only intervene in markets to a limited extent. The giving of huge amounts of money to private banks may suggest that global finance is still dominant, but it also shows that sometimes when called on to act, most governments will intervene in markets in dramatic ways. So it’s not unreasonable for people to look to their governments to now shape responsible business practice more than before. And that is what we are seeing.”

The review is a call for people to become more involved in exploring how to evolve economic systems to promote fair and sustainable societies, says Bendell. “We are calling for this kind of engagement because after doing nine years of quarterly responsible business trends analysis for the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, we have concluded that there is a nascent social movement for the transformation of business and finance. Behind the jargon of corporate social responsibility, corporate accountability, environmental management, social enterprise, and responsible finance, are people like you and me who want to change the way business does business and the way money makes money. As such we need to think through what we are aiming for, longer term, and how we can work in concert. We all need to look up from our projects and shape the unfolding programme of economic transformation.”

To contribute to the debate, Lifeworth offers a framework for democratising capitalism. As Bendell, who is also Lifeworth’s director explains, “It’s simply that we need more governance of capital by people who are directly affected by its ownership and control. From that one concept flow many implications for tax, currencies, stocks, and all social and environmental regulations. This democratisation of capitalism could be the ultimate goal of the corporate responsibility movement, and the seeds of this approach are already to be found in the ideas and practices of many people working on corporate responsibility today.”

A discussion of economic systems can seem distant from the day-to-day preoccupations of most executives and the academics who seek to educate them, but as Bendell suggests, “making such connections will be important if the corporate responsibility movement is to have a substantial and lasting effect on commerce and society.” In ‘Capitalism in Question’ some initial guidance is given for how business leaders and educators can play a socially progressive role at this time. Specific multi-stakeholder initiatives are recommended.

The review of trends in corporate responsibility during 2009 includes analysis of government stimulus packages, responsible tax management, responsible mining, responsible cosmetics and beauty businesses, as well as particular trends in Asian and Francophone countries. It also explores the potential of ‘design thinking’ for sustainable business innovation, and provides in-depth analysis of the implications of the Copenhagen climate summit.

“Deep changes will be required in economic governance if we are to achieve a sustainable society… Capitalism will change, there is no doubt, and it must change so that it delivers both private wealth and public good” explains Professor Malcolm McIntosh of the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise. “As we enter a period of potential reconfiguration of economic governance, leaders of organisations will need to better understand the issues, actors and dynamics to be successful. Part of Griffith Business School in Australia, Professor McIntosh’s centre supported the free release of this review to promote creative thinking at a time of critical global challenges and because “the lead author Jem Bendell, is an important commentator on the world stage.”

Dr Bendell says there are important implications for management education. “In Griffith’s new “Graduate Certificate for Sustainable Enterprise” we help our students to navigate increasingly complex social and political contexts so they can find ways to prosper by being part of the solution.”

‘Capitalism in Question: The Lifeworth Annual Review of 2009’ is available in pdf for free download at http://www.lifeworth.com/consult/2010/02/annualreview/

Lifeworth’s responsible enterprise trends analysis during 2010 can be obtained by subscribing to the ‘Journal of Corporate Citizenship’. New subscribers to the journal before March 31st 2010 receive all 2009 copies for free. Visit http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com

Information on Griffith’s research centre and graduate certificate is available at http://www.asiapacificsustainableenterprise.com/

For media enquiries about ‘Capitalism in Question’ contact Jem Bendell via connect [at] lifeworth.com or +44(0)2071936102

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth, Reports, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A time to tweet

Posted by jembendell on January 20, 2010

I didn’t want to sign up to Twitter because I thought it mad to want to blurt out stuff about what you are doing every minute of the day.

I see that Ricky Gervais and Steven Fry are quitting it, getting tired of blah blahing about things.

But during COP15 I realised twitter is a useful tool. As I clicked on the tag #COP15 it provided a form of real-time human-managed search engine, through the use of tinyurl.com or other forms of linking to webpages from twitter. Thus I saw it a great way to share your own work on matters of topical discussion.

So, I wont be tweeting about what I had for breakfast or who I met at lunch. But for another way to share what myself and my colleagues at Lifeworth are doing or putting out.

After I sent my first tweets I got 4 new followers in a minute.  Thanks guys.

My first tweets:

  1. jembendell

    @COP15 it was wrong 4 #business & #banks 2push4 #CapAndTrade 4 the #climate We must seek a global #carbon charge http://tinyurl.com/yz2f5c9

  2. jembendell

    @davos #WEF is right 2report values at heart of #FinancialCrisis but #davos isnt yet the answer to those #values. http://tinyurl.com/yc4paph

  3. jembendell

    #UN #fashion show is happening! Great when idea comes 2gether. Praise #ecochic. Step 4ward 4 #sustainable #luxury http://tinyurl.com/ykgkf6g

All of them posted from this internet cafe in India.  If someone buys me an iphone or googlephone you’ll be even better informed.  Just send the cash via paypal to connect@lifeworth.com

😉

Posted in Lifeworth, My Life | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

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

Posted in Lifeworth | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on New Consulting Site

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!

Posted in Lifeworth | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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 »

Deepening Luxury in Delhi

Posted by jembendell on April 4, 2009

Im just about to leave India after an amazing month. The International Herald Tribune conference last week was inspiring, and for me very affirming. Feedback from Christian Blanckaert, Laurent Claquin, Suzy Menkes and Anna Zegna, among others, about the impact of the report Deeper Luxury on their own work was wonderful to hear. Theyre all doing what they can to promote sustainable luxury. The transcript of my presentation follows. I was taking a bit of a risk, a Britisher going to India and leading an audience in a group reflection/meditation, but the reaction was positive (or those with a negative reaction were too polite to tell me!).

To follow up I wrote a piece in the local business paper, and an article in NYT and IHT mentions the talk.

Deeper Luxury, Presentation by Jem Bendell at the International Herald Tribune conference on Sustainable Luxury, Imperial Hotel, Delhi, India, March 26th 2009.

“Despite the difficulties, the choice of India and of sustainable luxury as the conference theme now has a feeling of serendipity about it, doesn’t it?

Since the IHT made their bold choice, we have seen dramatic events, both here and abroad. What does an economic collapse and a terrorist attack have to do with sustainable luxury? If sustainability is about how we live our lives and what we work for, then they are very relevant, because we must employ our best talents to make our world a better place, whatever our line of work.

India is probably the richest country in the world, in the truest sense of the word rich. Yet it is one beset by massive social and environmental challenges. Coming here to collectively imagine what luxury and sustainability might offer each other, is as important now as it ever was. So thank you IHT for organising what could be a watershed in the luxury industry, and perhaps, if we make it so, an important moment in the sustainability movement.

I’m here because of a report I produced in 2007 for the environmental group WWF. In Deeper Luxury, we mapped out the sustainability challenge and the reasons why luxury brands could do a lot more, ranked companies and provided some examples and tips, as well as a charter for responsible brand endorsement by celebrities. The report took off around the world. I even ended up in Tatler; a dubious indicator of success for an environmentalist. But today I wont go into the report. Instead I’ll say some things about the heart and the head of sustainable luxury management in light of rapid changes. I hope to allay any lingering doubts you may have about sustainability being the future of luxury, rather than just a passing fad.

At its most basic sustainability is about people being in harmony with nature, eachother and ourselves. As our societies have developed, our work and ways of living have had both a positive and negative impact on that harmony. You have likely heard that before. But right now I’d like us to take a moment to sense what restoring that harmony could feel like. You may find it helpful if you close your eyes for the next few moments.

So, now with you eyes shut, try to recall a moment when you think you won an argument, or clinched a deal, or got promoted. Think of how it felt.

Next, try to recall a moment when you were in nature, perhaps looking at a sunset, or where you completely lost yourself in the moment of something you enjoy doing. Try to taste that feeling.

Now contrast it with the first – the feeling generated within you when you won out on something.

Consider whether that first feeling is one of self-promotion – a worldly feeling, while the second feeling comes from your soul.

This is a reflection recommended to us by Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest who hailed from Mumbai, and integrated Eastern and Western philosophies.

He says the worldly feelings are not really natural. I quote “they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to provide thrills, excitement – and emptiness.”

He suggests we are weighed down by these worldly motivations for approval, popularity, and power. He is suggesting that, actually, less can be more, and “I” can become “we”. That is also a sustainability message. Because sustainability is not so much a challenge out there, but in here. It comes down to how conscious we are in our work. A sustainable luxury industry will flow from a sustainable luxury profession of people inspired by creating things and experiences that generate well-being for everyone involved, and restoring the biological diversity and balance of our planet.

Fear often holds us back from living and working in full consciousness. In our work on corporate responsibility in the luxury sector, there is a nagging fear that there is something fundamentally contradictory between luxury and sustainability. Some fear that we cant do that much, particularly given the current economic situation and the limited awareness of consumers in key growth markets.

One way to calm that fear, is to realise how greater social and environmental responsibility can often be a cost saver and a driver of innovation. That is what we sought to do in the WWF report. This morning I want to go further, and address four conundrums facing the industry that can hold us back from engaging fully, soulfully, in sustainability. So far I’ve only heard them expressed in quiet conversation by people who are aware of the challenge but not sure of how this sector can really deliver.

In hearing reassurances about the financial sustainability of brands and luxury groups we have been reminded of the strength of the Asian market. Their economies are still growing, middle classes expanding, and fashion consciousness rising. The difficulty I’ve been told about by some executives is that such consumers are not aware of social and environmental aspects of brands and don’t really care. In the past year, new market research points to a wave of environmental awareness sweeping through Asia.

Research done by some WPP agencies, found that Chinese consumers now see the environment as a higher priority than do their US and UK counterparts. 69 percent of the Chinese respondents said that they expected to spend more on environmentally friendly products in the coming year.

The graph on the screen is from the French agency IFOP, showing levels of concern assessed in June last year. It also shows emerging market consumers concerns are higher in Brazil, China and India. More unpacking and interrogating of the nature of this concern is required to gauge its relevance for corporate strategy, but it shows the awareness is now there.

Consumer awareness takes time to translate into consumer behaviour, because we cant chose what doesn’t exist, or behave differently when we are unclear about our options. As the connections are made between what we buy and the environment we live in, the commercial implications are huge. So it is time to empower the consumer with the right information and better choices. So the first conundrum is not so real.

At a global level some analysts say the world has lost almost half its wealth since September. The crisis is real and scary. As someone running a small consultancy, we have lost one major client already. My company also works on sustainable finance, and worked on a project which consulted with finance professionals in over dozen countries. The insight from this is that the current crisis is not something that will be “got through” before a return to “normal”. Instead, it marks a major shift in global power. At root it is a Western financial crisis. The impacts will not only be financial, but also cultural, impacting on the status of the West, and on consumer culture. The implications for luxury are therefore deeper than our immediate concerns about profit and loss.

Many of us here work in enterprises that are the very best at what we do, whether that’s watch making, boat building, resort management, and so on. The crafts themselves may be excellent, and the sincerity and quality discussed yesterday morning very real. But what groups us together in this room as “luxury” is not so much that excellence, but consumer perceptions of what “luxury” means and our need to understand how to continue to appeal to the consumer of “luxury” as much as the consumer of our particular product or service. If there ever was such a thing as a luxury industry, then it is now endangered, because of the economic situation. More people are thinking twice about any discretionary spending. They are questioning the true value of what they buy, and how it appears to others at a time of increasing hardship. The ability and motivation to buy what is, to some, unnecessarily expensive, will therefore decline. In such a context, luxury must become something meaningful and lasting, providing the most enduring products and experiences to consumers.

Therefore the economic crisis is ushering in a fundamental change in world power and consumer values that moves social and environmental excellence from an option to a category-defining dimension of luxury brands.

The social legitimacy of luxury becomes more challenging in situations of extreme inequality and absolute poverty. Within sustainability there is a principle of fairness and social equity. Some people consider that luxury involves excess, so it could never be moral while there is poverty. That’s quite a conundrum.

If you visit the Taj Mahal this weekend you will not be that far from the border with Madhya Pradesh. If you travel on, UNICEF says that in some villages 6 out of every 10 children you will see are malnourished, like these children, pictured a few months ago.

It’s natural to block out this other reality as we enjoy our own privilege. Because many of us dont know what to do about it.

The two world’s collided last week when the two Slumdog child actors from Mumbai’s slums fronted a fashion show. The success and subject matter of the Slumdog film has raised debates about poverty and child protection, and the role and responsibility of the creative industries, like film. One response to this situation is charity. Designers Ashima and Leena announced last week that a new Jai Ho Foundation will support children like Rubina and Azahruddin.

If done well, charity can help. But it rarely addresses root causes. In my 10 years as a consultant to the UN on development issues I have been constantly reminded of one thing. People with low incomes do not want our charity, but their dignity and opportunity – which basically means good education, a safe environment and decent work. Just like ourselves, no one appreciates pity. But solidarity and support is always welcome.

The economy of Madyha Pradesh has been booming but it doesnt trickle down well unless you have responsible businesses buying from responsible businesses. Therefore the best way to reduce inequality and poverty is for the products and services we make to provide decent work throughout the value chain.

To illustrate I’ll mention one breakthrough British luxury brand. For several years jeweller and anthropologist Pippa Small has been designing jewellery made by fair trade groups. Her range for Nicole Fahri’s store in New Bond Street is produced by a group of slum-dwellers in Nairobi using discarded brass and recycled glass. The product line is helping ensure the workers’ children go to school, has funded a crèche, is teaching them computing skills, and shows them how to run a business. Pippa believes the reason the Farhi range sells so well is, I quote, “because people feel good wearing jewellery that is doing some good, as opposed to exploiting people”. But she also notes that, I quote again, “buyers in big stores often don’t get it. They think that jewellery made in slums equals something horrible and dirty, rather than seeing that giving people skills offers them an opportunity to get out of there.”

I was pleased to find out last night that there are some similar innovations occuring in the high end fashion sector here in India. The brand Bombay Electric are working with WomenWeave, to source materials from women working in villages, so that high end fashion can promote social development.

So we need not ignore. We need not feel guilty. Neither actually helps. Instead, the conundrum can be resolved if luxury comes to embody a fullness of our ability to live in solidarity with everyone we influence. Its ambitious. But are luxury brands not always ambitious?

The last conundrum I’ll explore here is sustainable consumption. Luxury brands are promoting consumerism in countries at a time when we need to reduce consumption in order to avert a climate catastrophe.

We only have one planet don’t we. Yet some aspire to live as if we have 5. If everyone lived like Americans we would need 5 planets of biological resources to support us. But it’s not simply a Western binge. Estimates put Malaysia at 4 planet lifestyles, Dubai at 10. Some research suggests the Indian middle classes now have a carbon footprint higher than the average Briton. The impacts are profound. For thousands of years the river Ganges has been revered. The Himalayan glacier that feeds it is shrinking by 40 meters a year, meaning it could disappear altogether in 20 years, and with it the Ganges in the dry season. Water is precious, to some it can be sacred. The shirts on our backs each took a few thousand litres of water to create. If we cherished them more, we would use less water. As well as less energy and other resources. To cut carbon emissions we have to reduce our consumption of resources. We only have about 10 years to transform our development so we don’t tip the world into catastrophic climate change. If you don’t believe it, you’ve been living in a bubble, and need to read your Herald Tribune.

Some of us are here to work out how better to sell Western brands into this highly complex market. Key to that is promoting a consumer fashion culture in a country where style traditions are centuries old and slow to change. Yet we know our world can’t cope with another billion embracing unbridled consumerism and a throwaway society. It would be an epic tragedy for some of our brightest minds to work on that, at a time when we need their talent to create a sustainable future.

What’s the answer? Become the best. Offer the best environmental option. Luxury brands have the margin and mandate to create the most environmentally friendly products and services. Yesterday Anna Zegna gave you some real examples, as will Stella in a moment. The great thing about luxury brands is that the way consumers relate to them actually prefigures the way we need consumers to relate to all their products. To look after them, to repair them, to see them as becoming vintage not garbage.

So let’s not be pale green, seeking to reduce our environmental impact a little to protect our reputation. That would be understandable, but it wouldn’t be real luxury. Instead, lets seek to create products and services that are actually environmentally restorative. So that by buying them people help the environment. One example is the UN’s Biotrade initiative, which is working with brands to develop skins and other products that create new revenues to pay for the conservation of species and their ecosystems.

Once we have created environmentally restorative products and services, then lets integrate that into the marketing and advertising of them in new markets, to help guide that wave of environmental awareness into more beneficial environmental behaviours. We have the power to shape aspirations and can use it wisely.

My intention in addressing these issues has been to release possible blockages to you being in flow in your your work and life. Because sustainability must start with us.

I am here because I believe that luxury can lead, not lag, in the transition to a fair and sustainable world. Its designers, entrepreneurs and executives can become part of what I term in my new book, The Corporate Responsibility Movement – A movement that is pursuing a transition to a fair and sustainable economy through new approaches to enterprise.

Together with the luxury brands Timothy Han and EcoBoudoir, as well as the UN Biotrade initiative, and luxury marketing expert Marco Bevolo, we are creating an association to support this transition. The Authentic Luxury Association gives you the opportunity to become an expert in the strategic importance of social and environmental excellence, as well as its operational implications. Already over 200 luxury professionals have joined our online network, which you can find at authenticluxury.net

We need not be confounded by this time of global stress, but work towards a new form of luxury that embodies what is personally, socially and environmentally the best of human creativity. The reflection from the late Anthony de Mello helps us see that at this time of strife, our world needs from us simply what we need for ourselves: o be authentic, soulful and purposeful. So thank you, for being, simply, you.”

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THE IDEAS HERE, OR ENGAGE, PLEASE VISIT WWW.AUTHENTICLUXURY.NET

Links to the video of the talk will be posted there.

Posted in ALN, Corporations, Lifeworth, Spirit?, Sustainable Development, Talks, WWF | Tagged: | 2 Comments »