Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This is an interview by Alda Marina Campos, Director of Pares in Brazil, in which she asks Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, various questions about insights from his CSR Quest world tour and trends in CSR. The interview took place on 6 August 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Alvaro Esteves is Director of Ekobe. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about his experiences working with companies in sustainability and social innovation working in the favelas. The interview took place on 6 August 2010.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Alda Marina Campos is Director of Pares, a sustainability consultancy. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about sustainability best practices in Brazil. The interview took place on 6 August 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Florencia Segura is Founder of AgendaRSE in Buenos Aires. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about CSR and workplace inclusion in Argentina. The interview took place on 20 July 2010 in Buenos Aires.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Ana Muro is Co-ordinator of the CSR Group of the Argentine Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD). In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she discusses trends and best practice cases in corporate sustainability in Argentina. The interview took place on 20 July 2010.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Cecilia Rena is Sustainability Strategies Manager for Arcor Group in Argentina. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she discusses some of the best practices being implemented in her company, including supply chain integrity and management incentives. The interview took place in Buenos Aires on 20 July 2010.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Maria Irigoyen is Project Director at ReporteSocial. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about trends in CSR & reporting in Argentina. The interview took place in Buenos Aires on 20 July 2010.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Simon Harvey is CEO of The Natural Step in New Zealand. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about this experiences implementing this strategic sustainability framework with companies. The interview took place on 22 June 2010 in Auckland.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Rachel Brown is Founder & CEO of Sustainable Business Network in New Zealand. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she gives her views on sustainability trends in New Zealand. The interview took place on 22 June 2010 in Auckland.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Maggie Lawton is Head of Strategy & Policy at Manukau City Council in Auckland. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about their experiences of implementing sustainability at a local government level. The interview took place on 22 June 2010 in Auckland.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
By Wayne VisserJohn Elkington recently asked me 'how the NGO landscape will morph over next decade', especially in non-OECD countries, to feed into some research he is doing on the Future of NGOs. Drawing especially on my work for the World Guide to CSR, and my travels on the CSR Quest world tour, I have tried to capture my insights as 10 Paths to the Future for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs, which I prefer rather than the term NGOs). Using examples from around the world, I believe that in the future, CSOs will increasingly be ...
- Platforms for transparency – The role of CSOs as agitators for, and agents of, greater transparency seems set to continue. For example, in Senegal, Benin, and Guinea, CSO intervention has been critical in the development of a free press. And in India, Karmayog allows citizens to report specific instances of bribery and corruption on a live, public website.
- Brokers of volunteerism – As companies increasingly see the benefits of volunteerism (greater job satisfaction, productivity, commitment and loyalty), CSOs are increasingly becoming people-brokers, as sources of projects for employee volunteers. For example, the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU) coordinates volunteers to help with the construction of schools, reforestation and AIDS campaigning.
- Champions of CSR – While some CSOs remain sceptical about CSR, in many countries they are the main agents for promoting CSR. For example, in Iran, a group of CSOs have joined forces with the UNDP to promote CSR through targeted training for managers under the umbrella of the UN MDGs. And in Senegal, CSR awareness has grown mainly due to an CSO called La Lumière in Kédougou.
- Advisors of business – A combination of genuine expertise, valuable perspectives and a crunch on funding means that many CSOs are turning to consultancy, working with and advising companies not only on specific social and environmental issues, but also more generally on sustainability and responsibility. For example, in Hungary, as opposed to the traditional role of watchdog, many CSOs engage in consultancy on CSR.
- Agents of government – The phenomena of GONGOs (government organised NGOs), GINGOs (government-inspired NGOs), GRINGOs (government regulated/run and initiated NGOs) and PANGOs (party-affiliated NGOs) are becoming more widespread, no longer just seen in China. Even where governments are not setting up or running the CSOs, they are supporting them as key catalysts. For example, Belgian CSOs receive €3 government funding for every €1 they raised themselves.
- Reformers of policy – Realising that the ‘rules of the game’ need to change, CSOs are increasingly getting involved in legal reform. For example, in Indonesia, it was largely due to rising pressure from CSOs that the Law No. 40/2007 concerning Limited Liability Companies was introduced to make CSR mandatory.
- Makers of standards – In an effort to raise the bar on voluntary action by companies, many CSOs are developing their own social and environmental codes and standards, then inviting business to comply with them. For example, in Israel, the Public Trust Organisation established The Public Trust Code, covering advertising, transparency, disclosure, service and product guarantees, honesty in contracts and privacy of information.
- Channels for taxes – In some countries, the effectiveness of CSOs has earned them the ability to source tax dollars directly. For example, in Mexico, the FECHAC (Federation of the Chihuahuan Industry) is an CSO, set up after devastating floods in 1990, that is funded through a special annual tax on more than 38,000 industries. And in Romania, the 2% Law (in terms of the Fiscal Code) allows citizens to redirect 2% of personal income tax to an CSO.
- Partners in solutions – Not only are CSOs collaborating with business more and more, but also with governments and multilateral agencies. For example, in South Korea, ‘Cross Sector Alliance’ is one of 5 approaches to CSR being promoted, while in Africa the New Nigeria Foundation provides a platform for mobilizing non-traditional resources through public-private partnerships. In Turkey, TUSEV promotes linkages between domestic and international CSOs and encourages CSR by putting foreign and domestic firms in contact with appropriate CSOs.
- Catalysts for creativity – CSOs are increasingly expected to provide solutions, not just point out the problems, especially by launching or supporting social enterprises. For example, in Bangladesh, BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) has been crucial in the microcredit movement, and in Singapore, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), has 12 social enterprises and 4 related organisations that are owned by more than 500,000 workers.
Monday, August 16, 2010
John Elkington is the Founder and Non-Executive Director of SustainAbility and Founding Partner and Director of Volans Ventures. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about where he sees the sustainability and social enterprise agenda heading. The interview took place in Athens on 11 June 2010.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Kiara Konti is Senior Consultant: Corporate Responsibility Services for a professional services firm in Greece. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she discusses her insights in CR trends in Greece. The interview took place on 11 June 2010.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Maria Lazarimou is CEO of Advocate-BM. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about her work with the Corporate Responsibility Index in Greece, as well as her view on the trends in CSR. The interview was conducted on 11 June 2010 in Athens.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Video montage from the CSR workshop conducted by Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, for AgendaRSE in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 15 July 2010. With thanks to Florencia Segura, Director of AgendaRSE.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Peter Michel Heilmann is President of Eurocharity. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about his experiences working in the charity sector in Europe. The interview took place in Athens on 11 June 2010.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Tina Passalari is Manager: Sustainability Services for KPMG in Greece. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she gives her perspective from over 10 years of working with companies on sustainability issues in Greece. The interview took place on 11 June 2010 in Athens.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Mark Wehling is a visiting international CSR scholar at Peking University in Beijing. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he discusses the insights he has gained during his time researching CSR in China, especially among SMEs. The interview took place on 7 June 2010 in Beijing.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sam Lee is the Founder and CEO of InnoCSR in China. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about trends in CSR in China. The interview took place in Shanghai on 9 June 2010.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Jacylyn Shi is a CSR consultant, academic and founder of Women in Sustainability Action (WISA) in China. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she talks about progress on sustainability in China and the role of women in advancing the agenda. The interview took place in Shanghai on 9 June 2010.
Monday, August 2, 2010
By Wayne VisserIt was a great pleasure for me to be back in China in May this year. On my first visit in 2008, it was shortly after the Sichuan earthquake and one of the fascinating things to see was how Chinese bloggers were publicly ranking (and rankling) companies on their response to the disaster. For me, that represented good news and bad news – good news because it meant that civil society was becoming more active and bad news because it was entrenching a philanthropic understanding of CSR. The other experience I had during that visit, which confirmed my fears, was my role on a judging panel for an MBA competition on CSR, where the project we selected (which involved setting up an e-waste recycling facility) was passed over for a philanthropic project (which involved giving money for setting up a school).
During my more recent visit, a number of things seem to have changed. As my Chinese colleagues kept reminding me, two years is a long time in China. The first thing I noticed is that the country is awash with CSR conferences, workshops and training. So much so that generic meetings no longer pull the crowds. Companies know what CSR is and now they want to know how to implement it. Not surprising then that the CSR reporting trend has finally taken off in China as well. For now, this is seen by many companies as an end in itself – often to satisfy Western critics – rather than a first step on a much longer journey. However, along with the reporting trend, there is at least more talk of Strategic CSR, even though the evidence suggests this is more the exception than the rule. A company like State Grid is among this progressive minority, but most large companies are still stuck in a philanthropic, project-based mode of CSR.
The main drivers for CSR seem to have shifted as well. Whereas before, it was mainly Western pressure through the supply chain, now the two main advocates seem to be the Chinese government and the workers themselves. The government has latched onto the CSR concept and is bedding down many elements in legislation ranging from labour conditions to cleaner production. There are also increasing numbers of protests by workers that are dissatisfied with the status quo. Sam Lee mentions the story that was in the headlines recently of an irregular number of suicides in a particular company, which has added impetus to this growing workers' movement. As China rises as an economic superpower and begins to dominate many industries, there is also far more emphasis on safety and quality of products.
Apart from CSR management, China is investing heavily is in the market opportunities provided by CSR issues, especially clean technology. Already in 2006, the richest man in China was reported to be Shi Shengrong, CEO of the solar company Suntech, and the richest women, Zhang Yin, made her fortune from recycling. A 2010 report published by the Pew Environmental Center found that in 2009, China invested $34.6 billion in the clean energy economy, while the United States only invested $18.6 billion. This explosive growth was brought home to me when, at an event of the Women In Sustainability Action (WISA) in Shanghai where I was speaking, I got talking to a supplier of wind turbines to Europe. Simply put, he cannot keep up with the demand. He is turning customers away because there is already 12 months of orders in the pipeline.
In a related trend, I heard far more on this trip about environmental issues. In fact, visiting CSR scholar at Peking University, Mark Wheling, believes that the green issues are what are getting companies away from philanthropic CSR. World Bank estimates put the cost of environmental and associated health costs in China at 3% of GDP, with water pollution accounting for half of the losses. These costs have not escaped the attention of the Chinese government, who is driving environmental legislation and incentives much more strongly now. Many Chinese talk about the Olympics as some kind of watershed. As you may remember, the government shut down many factories around the city and restricted vehicle access. As result, Beijing enjoyed unprecedented blue skies during the 2008 Olympics. When the Olympics was over and the government prepared to go back to business-as-usual, the public objected – they wanted to keep their blue skies – and so at least some of the pollution control policies remained in force.
So, yes, there have been changes over the past two years, and there has been some movement towards Strategic CSR. However, my overall impression is that most companies still view CSR as a philanthropic and public relations exercise. As Jacyclyn Shi reminds us, CSR awards schemes are booming, which is a sure sign of progress, but also immaturity of the market. Perhaps she is right to place her hope in the women of China to be the new pioneers. There has been no shortage of testosterone-fuelled growth in China – and the world – which remains at the heart of the problem. We could benefit from less male yang, and more female yin, in China and in the CSR movement more generally.