Monday, January 26, 2009

CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility

My friend Elad Sherf really keeps me on my toes! His recent blog post on Business and Sustainability is a response to the Corporate Social Responsiblity lecture we had at AGSM last week. I feel his response to the lecture is valid, but seeing something written that opposes my position so strongly, I feel I need to put my words out there. To the benefit of my argument, Barack Obama has been sharing the same information with the world and so I echo his sentiments.

I am coming from a background of working with Counter Culture Coffee, a global leader in ethical and fiscally sustainable business practices, so that is the foundation of my frame of reference. More recently I was at ASI-Modulex where good people were making a valiant effort at partnering with the US Green Building Council to position the company as a leader in LEED certified contracts and sustainability.

While Elad has had a background as a lawyer and working in the Israeli military, he has my profound respect along with my fundamental disagreements. Our presentation by Anthony and Louise Lupi presented some of the most valuable information our MBA program will face as we train to become the leaders of tomorrow. If we have learned nothing else as a global culture, our lesson has been that we cannot continue with business as usual.

If anyone remembers the opportunity that the USA had after September 11, 2001 to unite the world and conquer our common problems as a true team, keep that thought in mind while I continue. The enemy of "Terrorism" has always been completely bogus, while the "War" waged against it is the most Terror oriented activity in the big picture of the issues it raises.

The most realistic enemy we can face as a global population is our own greed, zionism, short-sightedness, and resistance to change. It's one thing for soldiers and employees to follow the orders of their superiors. It's another thing for the leaders of these minions to dig deep within themselves and make the right choices based on their profound and sustainable understanding of humanity.

That is what we are doing here at the AGSM MBA. We are doing the work demanded of us by those who may give in return, hopefully deservedly, the most sacred responsibility of leadership. Business, like any human activity, has no place on this planet unless it takes into consideration the advancement of the species and improvement of the quality of life we all share.

Human suffering is real, and anyone who feels they are impervious to our genetic connection and responsibility for each other is, in my humble opinion, moving exponentially in the wrong direction.


Kris said...

Hey Jonathan,

Great blog you've got here. Mind if I reproduce some of it in the B-School Section of DelhiPlanet.

Elad Sherf said...

Hey Jonathan,
First of all, thanks for the reference and link.
I must say that I don’t understand what exactly your response to my post is. I read your post, and I don’t see anything there clashing with my ideas or thoughts. Vice versa, companies are the best way to deliver hope, compassion and progress to the world. And they do it best when they concentrate on what they do best, business.
Anyway, one sentence got e a bit worried: "The most realistic enemy we can face as a global population is our own greed, zionism, short-sightedness, and resistance to change"
Did you really mean Zionism is the most realistic enemy we can face today, because if you did: 1. I don’t get how does that has to do with anything. 2. I will need some answers on that one.
Anyway, I liked your writing very much.
Hope to keep stimulating you to more writing.

KB said...

I agree Jonathan! As they say, the mark of a true leader is one who can follow. I think that means not taking someone else's vision as truth, but rather keeping the most pressing issues of the day in mind, and shaping our leadership campaigns around them, rather than forcing an agenda onto an amorphous situation without regard for the timing or appropriateness of that stance. If that means you become obsolete in your current incarnation, then so be it. It takes courage to realize this, which is why great leaders are few, and often have many "false starts" in their backgrounds.

The necessary teamwork of which you speak seems to me to be the collection of an "army" of sorts which can most effectively combat a present enemy of enlightenment or the human condition. Of course, this will and must change over time if we are to make progress of any sort! So the issues we face now are not inherently the ones we will face later and cannot be rated as more or less important, though I do agree with you that resistance to change will always be an impediment to the future of humanity, so long as we manage to cherish the things about our collective wisdom that DO work! Nicely put.