Déjà Vu All Over Again, BP Style

It’s time to get tough on repeat corporate offenders.

By Bob Monks

As we pass the one-year anniversary of the Gulf Coast disaster, I am reminded of the earlier BP disaster at the Texas City oil refinery in 2005. I’m still astounded that a leading company previously charged with numerous felonies for a major environmental disaster was allowed to have another major disaster just five years later. In the same country. In the same state.

Following the Texas City disaster, I was retained as an expert witness by the plaintiffs in an action brought by injured parties. The extent of the damage was impossible to ignore, and it was clear this couldn’t simply be brushed under the rug and huge monies paid to make it go away. The problems were far too pervasive for that. It really was a question of the culture of British Petroleum. 

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10:15 pm by csrwiretalkback[12 notes]

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio Rule Under Attack

A bill in Congress threatens to throw a veil over critical information on CEO pay.

By Sarah Anderson

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill mandates that public companies disclose the ratio of total compensation of the CEO to that of the median of all their employees.

Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) has introduced a bill to repeal this disclosure rule before the Securities and Exchange Commission can write the regulations necessary to enforce it. The bill has already passed a key House subcommittee and could be voted on the floor by the end of the month.

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05:54 pm by csrwiretalkback[16 notes]

Water, Water Everywhere And Not A Drop To Drink

Can better water governance between citizen, state and business solve the scarcity crisis?

By Philip Monaghan

Water is essential to our survival. It makes up between half and three quarters of the human body weight, needs to be topped up on a regular basis and we cannot go without it for more than about week. As well as drinking it, we also use water for cooking and sanitation, not to mention industrial processes. But more often than not in the West, we treat it with disdain, a fact reflected in its low price and how the developed world fritters it away (you may leave the kitchen tap running into an unplugged sink at home but you would not pour petrol from the station pump down the drain).

What makes matters worse is, despite 70% of the Earth’s surface being covered by water, only 2.5% of the total volume is freshwater resources and fit for human consumption. Coupled with the facts from the WBCSD and FAO that in 60% of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.

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07:41 pm by csrwiretalkback[1 note]

A Low Carbon Diet For Construction Boards

Using social media can help boards be better on sustainability.

By Martin Brown

I’ve got a question for you:who on your board is championing sustainability and the low carbon agenda?

Board members, as Lucy Marcus reminded us at construcTALKs, need to balance continuity with change, to embrace the changes in technology.

From my experience in (small-medium) construction organizations, boards are too focused on looking back at performance, rather than forward; and when looking forward, tend to do so with the risk-eye of past problems. And sustainability is often only discussed when necessary, as part of an ISO 14001 project or incident issue. Too often, as 14001 sits with Health and Safety, sustainability takes a back seat. Rarely do construction boards view sustainability as a critical strategic, opportunity issue, rather than simply one to be dealt with at project level.

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06:20 pm by csrwiretalkback[23 notes]

Women Boost the Bottom Line

Gender diversity in the boardroom is good for companies.

By David Wilcox

Criterion Ventures’ managing director Jackie Vanderbrug made an excellent argument for how to celebrate International Women’s day—in the corporate boardroom. Citing research conducted by Catalyst, Vanderbrug reiterated boards with three or more women outperform those without by 83% (measured by return on equity). Diversity brings power.

At the UN Investing in Women & Entrepreneurship: Solutions to MDG 3conference held March 8, many supporting arguments were made for increased inclusion of women at all levels of management. Among the highlights: Geena Davis (of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media) advocating for appropriate representation of women in the media and Dermalogica founder Jane Wurmand speaking on the concept of the “power of touch” and job creation for women globally, the foundation to Dermalogica’s success.

We were also reminded of the coming positive wave of social advocacy and enterprises led by millennials in general and young women in particular. The Girl Up campaign leverages this powerful generational good.

Obviously you can’t run out, add a couple of female directors, and expect corporate performance to improve. There is a lot of basic work needed to open any business to increased innovation and diversity. The bestselling book, The Game-Changer, by P&G’s former CEO A. G. Lafley, is an excellent example. Leaders are doing this work and they are discovering significant sources of innovation.

So how do you act on all of this?

  • First, expand your network to include innovative movements and organizations lead by women.
  • Second, invest in social movements and enterprises lead by women.
  • Third, build and invest in businesses (and sustainable social enterprises) that employ women.
  • Fourth, support movements and organizations that solve critical problems faced by women.

These four recommendations are not typically on the radar screen for most organizations, and many respond to these challenges with “our corporate foundation takes care of issues like that.” What may have been a decent answer a decade ago is no longer adequate especially since innovation is coming from new places like the Global South. Corporations who are actively scaling innovative social enterprises that have transformative impact and business models can actually achieve progress on several fronts simultaneously.

For example the Every Woman Every Child campaign is a massive set of commitments from countries, NGOs, corporations and others. Headlines for the September 22 announcement at the UN Summit read: “UN Summit launches drive to save the lives of more than 16 million woman and children – Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health Draws more than $40 Billion in Resources.”

Business leaders wanting to expand their presence among women leaders are presented here with an almost unparalleled opportunity to build relationships and bridges that can transform millions of lives. What the Every Woman Every Child campaign needs is impact and business models that integrate a number of features – telemedicine, clean water, ERM, mobile diagnostics. These highly innovative solutions will enable initial expenditures to garner outsized results so that investment continues and goals are reached while spending sustainable amounts (not $40 billion).

(For more on this, see this Reachscale post.)

Social enterprises on the ground are already delivering these services. Healthpoint, along with Lifespring Hospitals and the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, are examples of this. Corporate support could present these models to countries and the global health ecosystem, driving innovation and successful initial expenditures. Farther down the road, it will also seed the next generation of women leaders.

About David Wilcox

David Wilcox is the founder of ReachScale, an organization that aligns the social responsibility goals of corporations with high potential social entrepreneurs working in areas of common interest.

Talkback Readers: How gender diverse is your company’s board? What have you done (are planning to do) to increase the presence of women? Has it made a difference? Tell us on Talkback!

10:33 pm by csrwiretalkback[11 notes]

Green wish or green wash? The difficult transition from ‘greening’ urbanization to an integrated green economy

Defining the green economy means defining prosperity.

By Philip Monaghan

According to media reports and unofficial briefings the UN has finally given up on a credible, binding global climate deal on carbon reductions ever happening. Commentators are saying the North and South will never be able to agree on common ground, politicians do not have the appetite to think long-term anyway, and to make matters worse, the world recession has given professional sceptics everywhere a wonderful excuse not to take a difficult decision anyhow.

It would appear all hope is not lost however. The UN is already making manoeuvres with its ‘Plan B’ – the green economy.

A round of applause please for those UN folk; they do not give up on a good idea easily. The thinking here is that by focusing on close-to-home, populist issues – like growth, jobs and skills arising from building a new generation of electric vehicles – politicians and the general public will warm (no pun intended) to the idea of taking climate action. In short, economic development is a good news story, asking voters to pay more for the gasoline in their cars is a bad news story. One only needs to look at the interest China’s new 5-year plan aroused recently to see this in action because of its focus on low or zero carbon industries.

So is this a viable alternative or a regressive step by the UN?

The answer is ‘yes.’ Not wishing to confuse you, what I mean by this is if we get the working definition right, it could be a game changer. If we fail to put in place the appropriate governance arrangements, however, it could make matters much worse.

Starting with a clear, agreed, commonly used definition may seem an academic point. Yet it is crucial to it working at all. Yes, it must be about uncoupling growth in wealth from growth in emissions. But more than this, it needs to be about shared prosperity; if there are to be winners and losers as a result of the transition, then it should not be the poor or global South that fails to benefit. There is work already afoot from various organisations like the World Future Council and collaborators to come up with useful ideas on such a definition, but hopefully this is the beginning of the conversation not the end, as we need the discussion to be led from or with Southern partners.

Turning now to governance, it is vital appropriate local and national governance arrangements by the OECD and others are put in place to hold any firms or governments accountable for the plethora of new public-private partnerships being established to develop major urban infrastructure (rapid transport, smart grids) or special trading zones (wind or solar industrial parks) to ensure there is no cynical stripping of community assets or green patents. Especially so as public spending shortfalls owing to the global recession may weaken the negotiating power of our world city mayors and leaders.

The Earth Summit 2012 – the Rio+20 anniversary – is a legitimate and timely forum to begin to craft a better understanding of both these issues, given it will bring together best minds from local government, industry and NGO. But only if the two issues are seen to work in tandem will they become critical to climate resilience. Let the big debate begin.

About Philip Monaghan

Philip Monaghan is author of the acclaimed new book Sustainability in Austerity, which has been praised by respected commentators from the UN, Harvard, WWF and Accenture.

He is a strategist and change manager in the fields of economic development and environmental sustainability.

Talkback Readers: What suggestions would you bring to the table at the Earth Summit 2012 for a successful transition to the green economy? Tell us on Talkback!

05:48 pm by csrwiretalkback[30 notes]

Lesson from Libya: Despotism, Poverty and Risk

Companies concerned about sustainability need to factor political democracy - or lack of it - into risk analyses.

Originally posted on the CSRwire website.

By CSRwire Talkback Managing Editor Francesca Rheannon

In his acclaimed new book, The View From Lazy Point, the author-scientist Carl Safina writes, “Saving the world requires saving democracy. That requires well-informed citizens. Conservation, environment, poverty, community, education, family, health, economy — these combine to make one quest: liberty and justice for all.”

The corollary, of course, is that despotism leads to environmental and social havoc — which, we are learning, leads to political upheaval. From Soviet-era Eastern Europe to the oil-soaked Niger Delta to the smog-choked cities of China, the least democratic regions are the most polluted and large portions of their citizens live in poverty — and it’s only a matter of time before the political chickens come home to roost.

They’ve already alighted on the despotic regimes of northern Africa, of which Libya is the most extreme example. And access to food is the nodal point where the environment, poverty and political disenfranchisement meet.

The last time food prices skyrocketed was 2008, a year that saw food riots around the world. Back then, Muhammar Gaddafi warned, “We are thinking about our peace and security. We are disturbed by the rising prices of food in the world.” Prescient words — and since Gaddafi equates his country with his person, the words ring even more presciently as a prediction of his expected downfall.

The recent sharp rise in food prices was the spark to the flame fanned by decades of tyranny, beginning in Tunisia, spreading to Egypt and now roiling Bahrain, Algeria, Oman, Yemen and Libya. Libya imports fully 80% of its food; the other countries are also heavy food importers.

While other factors play a role, climate change has been the major driver behind higher food prices. 2010 was brutal for the climate — and agriculture. Drought and fires shriveled the Russian wheat crop by 30%; floods wiped out Canada’s and Australia’s wheat crops and decimated rice crops in Thailand and Vietnam (the world’s two biggest exporters), as well as in Pakistan (and, in 2011, Sri Lanka’s crop). Hot, dry weather has ruined Argentina’s soybean crop. In a globalized food system, catastrophe in one area, let alone many, brings high prices far afield. World food prices soared 32% in the latter half of 2010 and continue higher.

Oil prices have also been on an upward trend (contributing to the rise in food prices), even before pro-democracy revolutions began rocking the Arab world. You’d think Libya would be sitting pretty — 95% of its revenues come from oil and with prices up, foreign reserve coffers were swelling. But, of course, little of that wealth was shared with its citizens. According to the latest CIA statistics, 1/3 of Libyans live below the poverty line.

The link between poverty and despotism is clear in Libya. Like elsewhere, despotic governments don’t allow niceties like real labor rights. They also tend to be corrupt — and that creates burdens not only for their own citizens, but also for foreign companies doing business with them.

It’s instructive to read from the U.S. Commercial Service’s website, BuyUSA.gov, about doing business in Libya. (The entry predates the current troubles by several years):

    Despite the country’s recent economic growth, unemployment remains high. In addition, Libya’s ambiguous legal structure, often-arbitrary government decision-making process…and various structural rigidities have posed impediments to foreign investment and economic growth.

One of those impediments has been the fact that the lion’s share of business enterprise has been dominated by Gaddafi and his family. “It’s totally corrupt,” one Libyan corporate investigator told one New York Times reporter. “This is just how business works in Libya.” A year ago, Forbes stated in reference to Libya, “foreign businesses are always at risk of political or arbitrary interference, though these risks can be managed.”

But after trade sanctions against Libya were lifted in 2004, companies in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany (Italy, a major trader with Libya, never stopped) — the major Western democracies — were falling all over themselves to do business with Gaddafi, Inc. Libya was one of North Africa’s top performing economies, and, as BuyUSA.gov stated, “With proper planning and foresight, U.S. companies can take advantage of commercial opportunities in almost every sector, from oil and gas to agriculture to telecommunications and tourism.”

Well, maybe not so much right now. Companies with exposure to Libya have been hit with stock jitters and an Italian index fund with 18% exposure is down 4.2%. Occidental Petroleum — with Amerada Hess and Chevron Texaco, the company won big oil contracts in the first auction after sanctions were lifted — has been trading down.

The larger world economy is also threatened with rise in crude oil prices, partially fueled by worries over unrest in Libya (and what might be next in the Arab world). The lesson to be drawn is that dictatorship is a risk for companies everywhere — with globalization, no company or economy is immune from political sins of others.

So what can companies do? One place companies can go for information about anti-democratic regimes is the Business And Human Rights Resource Centre. The complicity section on the organization’s website provides guidance on human rights standards, publishes key reports and lays out case studies for analysis.

But more is needed — maybe something along the lines of the Carbon Disclosure Project. A Despotism Disclosure Project would have to apply to all forms of undemocratic rule — not just dictatorships, but also oligarchies and plutocracies (U.S. — be forewarned). The winds of democracy are blowing strong; companies that want to sail them, rather than get blown over, would do well to make democracy a central indicator of their planning.

About Francesca Rheannon

CSRwire Talkback’s Managing Editor is Francesca Rheannon. An award-winning journalist, Francesca is co-founder of Sea Change Media. She produces the Sea Change Radio’s series, Back to The Future, and co-produces the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility’s podcast, The Arc of Change. Francesca’s work has appeared at SocialFunds.com, The CRO and E Magazine, and she is a contributing writer for CSRwire. Francesca hosts the nationally syndicated radio show, Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon.

Talkback Readers: Should companies impose sanctions on despotic regimes? Weigh in on Talkback!

08:38 pm by csrwiretalkback[7 notes]

A Dry and Anxious North Awaits China’s Giant Water Transport Scheme

Authorities anticipate approval for new western line to tap energy reserves.

Originally posted on the CSRwire website.

By Aaron Jaffe and Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue

Talk about the mother of all water projects. In 2014 some 9.6 billion cubic meters of water a year (2.5 trillion gallons) will pour through the immense tunnels under construction in Henan Province in northern China, and be sent north to help curb water shortages in more than a dozen cities, including Beijing.

A second line of China’s South-North Water Transfer Project should already be operating by then, transporting 14.8 billion cubic meters of water annually from the lower Yangtze River to Tianjin.

And this month, in its new 12th Five-Year Plan, the official guide to national development, China is expected to approve construction planning for a third “western” line, according to interviews Circle of Blue conducted with several authorities close to the project. The western line will transport 8 billion more cubic meters of water annually from the Himalayan region in the west to supply the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River in the north.

Taken together, reports Circle of Blue in the latest chapter of its Choke Point: China series, the three lines of the South-North Water Project are an audacious strategy to solve a commanding threat to China’s modernization: the increasingly dire confrontation between rising energy demand in a nation that is steadily getting drier. China’s plan is to eventually remove 36 billion cubic meters of water every year (9.5 trillion gallons) from the Yangtze River Basin, which drains much of the nation’s central and western regions, and ship it north. That is tantamount to reversing the flow of the Missouri River, which drains the Great Plains and part of the Northwest in the United States, and sending it back to Montana.

It’s no surprise ever since construction began in 2002, the South-North Water Project has generated a strong current of public comment. China’s government authorities insist the project, now estimated to cost $US 62 billion, is essential to developing cities and energy-rich provinces of northern and western China, the fastest growing regions in the country, which are running out of water.

"Transferring water from the south to north makes perfect sense," said Wang Hao, director of the Water Resources Department at the state-run China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research in Beijing, and one of China’s most influential government water scientists.

Wei Zhimin, a water expert in Hebei Province within a unit of the Ministry of Water Resources, said last year in an interview with Xiaoxiang Evening News that the South-North Project would not solve north China’s water crisis, but was nevertheless essential.

"Lifeline is one word to describe it," Wei said. "And by lifeline I mean a lifeline for north China, Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei included."

But the project’s critics - among them academics, economists and environmental leaders - assert that the magnitude and cost of building and operating the continental water transport system would produce a cascade of unintended consequences that could overwhelm benefits to China.

These consequences include much higher municipal, agricultural and industrial water prices, damage to aquatic environments, more treatment facilities for Yangtze water that is currently too polluted to use and continuing water shortages in northern China, and possibly in southern China, too. Most importantly, reports Circle of Blue, water from the South-North project won’t relieve the serious choke point that’s developed in the northern coal-rich provinces where China can’t tap new reserves because of ongoing water scarcity.

"We should take no pride in doing such a project," said Ma Jun, an author and director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a non-governmental organization in Beijing. “This is a moment for us, a sobering moment for us, to reflect upon how we drove ourselves to such a situation.”

Read more of the Choke Point: China series at Circle of Blue.

Talkback Readers: Will Chinese authorities, led by Ma Jun’s example, take time to reflect on their country’s water crisis? Or will the South-North Water Project scorch any sustainability measures? Share your thoughts on Talkback!

06:12 pm by csrwiretalkback[16 notes]

Ecuador: A Victory for the People

The tide is turning against injustice in Ecuador.

By John Perkins

The Middle East, Wisconsin, and now the victory of Ecuadorians over the oil giant, Texaco (owned by Chevron)! We the people are taking back the reigns of power!

It really started in Latin America where, during the past decade, 10 countries democratically voted in presidents determined to stop the corporatocracy from ruthlessly exploiting their people and natural resources. Every one of these countries was ruled by ruthless CIA-puppet dictators for most of my life. Now that has changed. Perhaps it is fitting that among all the victories occurring today, the one against a single corporation, an oil giant that epitomizes the corporatocracy, happened in Latin America.

When I was writing Hoodwinked, the $27 billion class action environmental lawsuit filed on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorians against Texaco was still in full swing. It alleged the company had dumped more than 16 billion gallons of toxic wastes into rainforest rivers (compared to BP’s 210 million gallons of oil in the Gulf and the Exxon Valdez’s 11 million gallons in Alaska) and that these wanton actions had destroyed fragile Amazonian environments and killed hundreds of people. The suit, at the time, was the largest environmental lawsuit in the history of the planet.

Ecuador is a classic case. In the 1970s its people were targets of predatory lending. Unscrupulous international banks promoted billions of dollars in borrowing by Ecuadorian dictators who blew most of the money on projects that made them and their cronies – as well as US construction/manufacturing consortiums – wealthy. After the transition to democracy, Ecuadorian people were stuck holding the bag. Ecuador’s debt has risen to more than $3.9 billion today. In 2007, the Ecuadorian government paid $1.75 billion in debt service, more than it spent on health care, social services, the environment and housing and urban development combined. For the corporatocracy, debt is one of its most powerful weapons.

Unfortunately, Ecuador is just one of many examples. Over the years, unelected dictators have been placed into power through the clandestine efforts of multinational corporations, international banks, the CIA and economic hit men throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Citizens were not involved in making or accepting deals these leaders signed that left their countries awash in debt and their lands, air and waters poisoned by toxic wastes.

The good news is the tide is turning. The Ecuadorian judge awarded an $8.6 billion fine against Chevron (plus another $8.6 billion in punitive damages). Less than the amount sought by victims, it is nevertheless a huge victory. Like the uprisings in the Middle East and Wisconsin, it is also symbolic of our changing world, one that we the people are determined to take back.

Yet we must all participate. The corporatocracy will fight back. In Ecuador, Chevron-Texaco has already stated that they do not intend to pay and, since they have sold all assets in that country, the plaintiffs have no leverage. What that means is you and I must continue to pressure Chevron and other oil companies. We must not purchase their gas. We must battle against toxic dumping everywhere.

I urge you as well if you have not yet seen the movie “Crude” to watch it and to support the Ecuadorian battle via your social networks. Here’s the link for the movie.

We must stop the spread of predatory capitalism. We must all reject the social and environmental costs that this mutant virus spreads. The defining goal of the corporatocray – that the only responsibility of business is to make short-term profits – must be replaced by recognition that corporations have to serve the public interest.

CHECK THIS LINK I urge you today to support the fight against Chevron at this site.

I also urge you to support the battle in Wisconsin by going here.

And continue to support the people of Egypt by going here.

Remember, we can ALL change the world for the better.

About John Perkins

John Perkins is the author of bestsellers Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Secret History of the American Empire, and the new book, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded – and What We Need to Do to Remake Them, among others.

Perkins is a founder and board member of Dream Change and the Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to creating a stable, sustainable and peaceful world. He has lectured and taught at universities on four continents. He tweets as @economic_hitman.

Check his website for upcoming events JohnPerkins.org

Talkback Readers: Do you have stories to share of victories of the people? Contribute them on Talkback!

08:26 pm by csrwiretalkback[7 notes]

CSR Lessons for Middle Eastern Autocrats

If you were going to advise the king…

By Hank Boerner

Assignment: Fly over to visit the Middle East and provide advice on how to handle the events in the Arab streets. Responsibly. Using good governance practices. If you got such a call from one of the region’s leaders, all odds being from a dictatorial ruler, what advice would you pack in your kit as you winged off for the meeting? This is delicate, for sure – not like giving advice to a CEO or board chair. This is a high stakes meeting with the potentate – who has the power to make your life quite miserable. (Remember the Queen in Alice-in-Wonderland: Off with her head, was the cry!)

What do you say to a firmly-entrenched dictator, probably wearing a general’s stars or at least surrounded by generals? Are you direct and to the point—or, do you carefully build the case and let the facts speak for themselves? You are entering the fear zone – what do “they” in the streets want? Expect? Who are you to say? Make believe you are entering the realm…of a CEO!

First, consider the setting and culture: any talk about “responsibility” will likely be in our Western context of responsibly serving the needs of the country’s men, women and children, and future generations. Some Middle East countries do that in an organized way, such as Kuwait (with its Future Generations sovereign wealth fund, created with oil revenues in 1954). “Sharing” the wealth beyond that may be an uncertain and unwelcome suggestion to the ruler.

Talking about “governing” styles is tricky – in the US and other Western democracies, power is given over or power yielded to the ruling class by the governed. Hard concept to wrap your mind around if you are a dictator. A government “of, by and for the People” rings of respect in both directions – we expect no less. But a government of the monarch’s ruling class, in all likelihood with power seized by them, and maintained by forceful means (and fear) is not quite “of, by and for” – and the suggestion to follow US example will be filled with challenges, most uninvited and unwelcome. (In my experience in the region, the example of the US maintaining an official system of slavery until just 146 years ago is brought up. The Wild West days of penning Native Americans on reservations is another example mentioned.)

“Freedom” is another tricky concept for this ruler you will be advising – what kind, how much and for whom? Freedom to openly criticize the ruler? Look at Egypt; don’t want to go that way, do we? (In 18 days the dictators’ rule is over.) Is that what you are suggesting? The lesson of another Eastern regime may be instructive here. China had its Tiananmen Square showdown with the demanders of democracy. The brutal crackdown was followed by an easing of rule and a tentative bargain between rulers and citizens. Entrepreneurship and capitalism of a short flourished; freedom to make money was granted by the communist rulers; just don’t get involved politically in threatening the regime. 

The US has a long-standing respect for freedom. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set out his famous “Four Freedoms” as a global war was spreading, in his January 1944 State of the Union speech to congress: “In the future days, which we want to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms…” These were freedom of speech and expression; freedom of worship; freedom from [economic] want; freedom from fear. This would require a new world order, the president said – the moral order. “That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order or tyranny which the [current] dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb…”

We are not quite there yet – but we have come a long, long way. Former empires are fragments of what they were for France, England, Italy, Germany, Holland and other Western nations. Across the world, freedom has rung out since 1946 and the end of WWII. There were a dozen or so democracies “united” in opposing the dictators in 1942. Today there are 75 or 80 different forms of democracy in the world – constitutional, representative, liberal, participatory, socialist, majority rule, democratically-elected and so on. Within the global community of 200+ nations, more than a third has some kind of democratic process. A long way to go, yes, but a long way has been traveled since January 1941. The words of the US president still ring across the frontiers of earth to inspire people yearning for freedom.

Perhaps the best advice is to offer an observation: the winds of freedom are blowing and change is inevitable. As the business philosopher Lee Iacocca commanded: Lead, follow or get out of the way! The time has come: act responsibly and prepare your people for change. They are certainly preparing change… for you! Act responsibly. Serve up freedom. Not easy!

About Hank Boerner

Hank Boerner is Chairman of the Governance & Accountability Institute in New York City and is co-author with Mark W. Sickles of the book, Strategic Governance: Enabling Financial, Environmental and Social Sustainability (published 2011 by the Institute). In the volume the authors explore links between culture, risk management, strategies and corporate responsibility.

Talkback Readers: What CSR advice would you give, if you were advising the ruler of Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, etc.? Share your thoughts on Talkback!

07:46 pm by csrwiretalkback[4 notes]
Your query didn't return any results. [CSR] [Middle East] [corpgov] [corporate governance] [politics]



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