4 July 2006

Social Responsibility

There is a movement for corporate social responsibility (CSR). There is a movement for socially responsible investment (SRI). Both of these movements have redefined and demonstrated how companies and individuals can generate value with more than just money.

As I posted last month, I have been working with my client - Economie - on Eco6, their conference about socially responsible value creation, which we need to get ready for in Zurich on the 9th and 10th of October this fall.

This has raised a lot of questions and dialogue about social responsibility. After all, this belief is driving the activities to our change behavior for value creation to something more than just greed for accumulating money and power and stuff. It asks us to explore what we believe in. It asks us to face the hard questions of how do we put this into practice and how do we continue to grow value. It also asks us to put our money where our beliefs are. This means investing in practices that support this way of generating value.

I am learning that this movement is unusual from other movements. It looks at the contradictions and practical issues of how to build socially responsible behavior into the financial practices of corporate development, value creation and investment. Brian Spence and Gwyn Jones are opening my eyes and shining the spotlight on how this works, and in different cultures as well.

There is legislation being put into place in many countries that will require a certain percentage of activities and investments meet specific criteria for socially responsible behavior. Did you know that SRI investments reach well over 3 trillion dollars globally?

In 2005, a thought leader study - (download) The Future of Socially Responsible Investment - assessed the financial trends and indicators for SRI over the next 10 years. They looked at the competitive landscape, the critics, the sustainability impacts, the consumer and products, the behaviors and practices like sustainability reporting (see Global Reporting Inititative GRI), rating systems and shareholder advocacy. This is no small movement. This is a global change in how we invest and how we create value.

I am more and more convinced that the virtuous value stream model of 4 levels of generative capital - human, social, creative, and transactional - need to build on one another for people to really perceive balance in value creation. This builds on our idea of socio-economic development.

I begin to see how this can unify many other efforts. If people can really see the value in these practices, companies and indiviuals will use them more and more until we evolve into a much more dynamic way of creating value for ourselves and our businesses.

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