Corporate Social Responsibility
Critics doubt the words will have much of an impact in the real world.
Many brands that choose to shun any real efforts at executing corporate philanthropy are putting themselves on the path to extinction.
In the U.S. alone, over 17 billion pounds of office furniture and equipment is sent to landfill every year. This waste is typically a result of necessary changes like moving, branch closures or revitalization projects. The furniture needs to be removed or replaced but it is what's being done with the furniture or, "F", waste that is the problem.
Have you heard about social enterprises? Social enterprises apply business solutions to social problems. They're incredibly hot right now. So hot, in fact, that I've just come back from the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in San Francisco where there were over 2000 attendees.
A real transformation of Canada's role in the world will require more than a shift in foreign aid spending and policy. It will require a deeper examination of the ways in which Canadian commercial interests are contributing to social, economic and environmental injustice in the world.
I think I'm reasonably well versed in issues surrounding the Energy East Pipeline, both economic and environmental. But I am struck by how, in any official TransCanada communications about environmental implications of the project, climate change is never mentioned.
It seems incredibly naïve to think that a profit-dependent, commercial venture is the final bastion of democratic values. Yet, in an age when companies are capitalizing on social responsibility, are brands unwittingly turning themselves into moral pedestals?
Organized sport played an important role in the residential school system, which means that sport is implicated in Canada's history of cultural genocide. How we move our bodies, the values we attach to those movements, and the resources we provide to support certain types of movements and not others are political decisions.
Interest in green economies, sustainable products and ethical commitments are undeniably growing. But, while consumer awareness for sustainability is rampant, does the talk translate into action? Have conscious consumers actually changed their buying habits to promote sustainability? Not necessarily, it seems.
I know that global trade is critical to raising many poor families out of poverty -- as in the Bangladeshi families noted above. But the economic model I want to see more of is one where strong local economies around the world are meeting people's needs in a sustainable and healthy way.