‘Yes, and’

Image by Donovan Valdivia via Unsplash

I have been trying to make sense of what is going on around the world over the last couple of weeks. George Floyd should not have died. He died because he was black. George Floyd is the tip of the iceberg. Before him there were many, many more: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner – many of whom have not got justice despite it being years since their death. 

The lives of black people have been taken so heartlessly not only by people in the US. The UK has a lot to be responsible for, apart from its own share of deaths of Black people. As Afua Hirsch said in her Guardian article last week:

The British government could have had the humility to use this moment to acknowledge Britain’s experiences. It could have discussed how Britain helped invent anti-black racism, how today’s US traces its racist heritage to British colonies in America, and how it was Britain that industrialised black enslavement in the Caribbean, initiated systems of apartheid all over the African continent, using the appropriation of black land, resources and labour to fight both world wars and using it again to reconstruct the peace. 

The structural racism that causes Black people to die again and again is not what non-Black people want to discuss unless they are forced to. It is a system that has been built over years, decades, centuries, and it will take time to dismantle, if we are lucky enough to even get there. There are a bulk of resources to read on this issue – here are ways you can learn in the month of June alone, so I won’t list them all here. If you are not black and want to understand why Black Lives Matter has taken on so much urgency, please give some of them a read, watch or listen. 

These discussions are hard, but they need to happen. I am far from educated enough on the subject of racism, anti-racism, structural racism, or anti-fragility – I’m still trying. Here, I want to lay out some of my thoughts on this issue, but also try and articulate something else that has been bothering me, as someone with Indian heritage. 

Even as many in India raise their voices in support of Black Lives Matter, there is warranted criticism for not supporting the causes that need a lot more attention in their own backyard. (With regard to the kind of discrimination that Black people see in America, I’m talking specifically about caste discrimination – of Dalits particularly, and religious discrimination – particularly of Muslims). 

There are two components to this: one, a large number of people who are getting the media attention for speaking up about Black Lives Matter in India at the moment are film celebrities, some of whom are very simply out of touch with reality (all the usual tone-deaf language about how ‘All Lives Matter’). These celebrities argue against racism in America, while endorsing fairness creams in India, and belonging to an industry which engages in ‘brownface’. You see the problem. 

The second is the legitimacy of talking about issues in other parts of the world when there are issues to tackle at home: from a long hard look at the casteism that contributed to Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s death in 2016 to more recent instances of police overreach similar to that being witnessed in the US at the moment. As an illustration, here’s one Instagram image I’ve seen shared a lot recently:

My niece Ragini Menon recently wrote a piece worth reading, about the pathetic record Indians have with regard to the treatment of Black people, and how South Asian Americans particularly owe a lot to the work of Black communities in the US (for more on the latter, follow SouthAsians4BlackLives on Instagram). Acknowledging that many of us stand on the shoulders of Black communities is important, as is the importance of dispelling the myth of Asian-Americans as the ‘model minority’. As this NPR piece notes:

Asians have been barred from entering the U.S. and gaining citizenship and have been sent to incarceration camps, Kim pointed out, but all that is different than the segregation, police brutality and discrimination that African-Americans have endured. 

Which brings me back to what made me want to explore all these things I’ve been reading, listening to and watching over the last few weeks: examining the ‘legitimacy’ of speaking up about one atrocity when there are others to acknowledge. The truth is there is no ‘convenient’ time to speak up. This is an ongoing battle; racism has been endemic for centuries. In countries like the US and UK, Black people have been facing hardships and violence for so long that many have unfortunately come to accept it as a way of life (yes, it saddens me to write that). It’s a mother’s fear of watching her son leave the house and not knowing if he’ll come back alive. It’s the fear experienced by a grown, educated Professor reduced to a shadow of his former self by the police, who stopped him in the road because of his colour. In India, Dalits and Muslims have faced this bias as well, for equally as long (a housekeeping note to anyone who wants to bring up white people or upper-caste Hindus – this is not the time or place. Please go somewhere else.)

I want to end by pointing to something that has helped me get some resolution to all these turbulent thoughts: this piece by Tamara Cofman Wittes, a  Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, who examines this alleged hypocrisy, of ‘promoting human rights when they are being trampled at home’, with reference to the US criticizing human rights abuses around the world when they are also not dealing with systemic racism at home. She concludes – and this has given me some succour – that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can fight for one and the other at the same time. In fact, we must. As she says:

By contrast, to insist that we must first “get our house in order” before speaking to others’ oppression, to be so ashamed by our own shortcomings that we refrain from calling out abuses abroad, and thus to withhold our solidarity from the abused, would itself be an act of moral abdication. As my friend Adham Sahloul wrote this weekend: “The people in the Hong Kong’s and Idlib’s of the world don’t have time for our spiritual reclamation sessions.” Sahloul calls for a “Yes, and” approach to American rights advocacy abroad, something that American diplomats of color, like Ambassador Nichols in Harare, already practice. Yes, we have important work to do at home. So do we all. Let’s continue reaching our hands across our borders in solidarity, and get to work.

Amen.

As part of my research writing this piece, I learnt of many organisations working to eradicate discrimination in the US, UK and India, listed below for reference:

Global

International Dalit Solidarity Network

India 

Velivada: a media platform for stories about Dalits/Bahujans 

Dalit Queer Project on Instagram

Ambedkarite Students Association at TISS on Facebook

National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations 

National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

Safai Karmachari Andolan, the movement against manual scavenging 

Khabar Lahariya, which I personally subscribe to, a platform for rural journalism with stories told by women from Dalit, tribal, Muslim and backward castes. You can subscribe here

US (taken from this Google Doc)

Black Visions Collective

Reclaim the Block

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Black Lives Matter

National Bail Out Fund

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Showing Up for Racial Justice

Campaign Zero

The Loveland Foundation

The Marshall Project

Color of Change

Bail Out Funds – Google Doc

UK

A list of Black racial justice organisations (public Google Doc)

Practical ways to support Black Lives Matter from the UK (public Google doc)

Kwanda, which I support financially, ‘a modern collection pot for black communities’. 

Thank you to Siddharth Sreenivas for sharing the organisations working on the issue of caste discrimination in India, Ragini Menon for conversations and her thoughts, and the amazing people compiling resources for everyone to learn from and support. 

Koreo Prize: Do you know any smart young people in the UK aged 18-27?

I’m really pleased to be a judge for the inaugural Koreo Prize, a competition to encourage young people in the UK aged 18-27 to explore some of the most pressing issues of our time.

The Koreo Prize is a national storytelling competition for young people to unlock fresh takes on some of the complex social issues affecting the UK, using any combination of media. A UK first, we’re asking participants to choose one or more of six issues aligned with the UN’s Global Goals: gender equality, social mobility, food security, community resilience, wellbeing & social housing.

This competition is open to anyone between 18 and 27, there are no right or wrong answers – just a unique exploration of the issues! Plus, entrants get to be part of a community of emerging young thinkers whilst having the opportunity to win £5,000, paid work placements, free learning opportunities, tickets to global conferences, and mentoring opportunities.

The deadline for submissions is 4 April 2017 and will be judged by a panel of experts from across the public, private and non-profit sectors, including yours truly.

If you know anyone who fits the bill, do encourage them to apply! More info on the website.

Blog Action Day 2015 #raiseyourvoice

badwhiteonblue-participant

I started participating in Blog Action Day a few years ago, and over the years have found that it’s something I enjoy being a part of. I started because it gave me something to write about when I didn’t have much to write about otherwise. I take it as a bigger responsibility now, for some reason.

Blog Action Day 2015 was officially on October 16th, but I wanted to add my voice nevertheless (better late than never and all that). The theme for the year is #raiseyourvoice, in support of people who raise their voice despite being threatened with violence or censorship.

I wanted to call out the many brave writers and journalists in India who have given their lives and their careers in an environment that is growing increasingly hostile to free speech. Especially over the last few years or so, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse. 2013 was a particularly bad year and saw the death of 8 journalists in the country according to the Press Freedom Index, where India currently ranks 140th out of 180 – an embarrassing position for the world’s largest democracy. Kashmir and Chhattisgarh are particularly bad states for journalists, though curbs on freedom happen across the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists puts the number of murdered journalists since 1992 at 37, though it is likely there are more. This year, in the last 4 months alone, 3 journalists have been killed, including Hemant Yadav 2 weeks ago.

Earlier this year, a large number of India’s writers also returned awards given to them by the government, in protest against curbs on freedom of expression.

I’m hardly as brave as any of them, and can only hope that the government, politicians and the power nexus realise the damage they are doing to the future of the country by eliminating or throttling its present.

English PEN is unsurprisingly a Blog Action Day partner for the year, because ‘it sums up the work PEN has been doing for almost 100 years.’ And important work it is.

From today, One Size Fits One is @getcentup-integrated!

Last year when I heard about the launch of CentUp, I raced to get the button added to this site. There were many reasons – primarily that I think good writing and good ideas should be supported in some way beyond advertising. I’ve been a contributor to CentUp-supported blogs over the past year so I’ve had the satisfaction of recommending work I like beyond just tweeting about it.

Till now, you haven’t seen CentUp itself on this site because WordPress.com didn’t support it. That’s all changed as of today – hurrah! If any of you like the things I write about going forward, you have the opportunity to donate to charity and support me simultaneously if you have a CentUp account, by simply clicking on the button you should see at the bottom of a post.

By way of background, CentUp was created to do good and pay content creators for their efforts at the same time. It smashed its 2013 Indiegogo goal, and launched soon after.  It’s a great way to discover content appreciated by others in the ecosystem as well (read their Creators + Tech series and subscribe to their email if you’re interested).

I had a quick chat with Len Kendall, one of the founders, earlier today. Here’s what he says about their journey over the past year:

Over the course of the last year, the CentUp has refined who our core customer is. Instead of trying to help content creators across all platforms, we’re hyper-focusing our attention on writers. Unlike Youtubers or Musicians who can more easily sell goods or run ads, writers specifically have a really hard time monetizing their work. People (all of us) simply aren’t used to paying for writing anymore.  As such, we decided that writers were the people CentUp should work hardest to support. We’ve evolved our platform in the last 6 months and tie every single donation not to a person, but to a specific piece of content. So unlike a PayPal donate button that’s used to contribute money to a person or team, CentUp lets readers financially support (or tip) the one piece of writing that truly inspired them. By tying donations to individual articles (versus overall publishers), we’re also aligning with how modern day readers use the web: they jump from site to site, and don’t commit to any one publisher.

Glad to see the CentUp team going from strength to strength!

CentUp.org from CentUp on Vimeo.

[centup]

Helping @kidsclubkampala achieve greater impact cc @oliviambarker

Kids Club Kampala

In May this year, the Media Trust organised a speed-matching event at PHD. For about 1.5 hours, 15 PHD’ers spent a few minutes each with a range of non-profits who are all doing great work in areas ranging from poverty alleviation and the arts to education and environmental awareness. Time for me to admit something: I’ve never been speed-dating (not sure if that’s a good or bad thing really!), so Media Trust’s speed-matching concept, which is essentially speed-dating for media professionals and charities to find matches with each other, was really interesting for me to be a part of.

The amusing thing is that who you thought you’d be best matched with didn’t necessarily match the sense of the charities – they didn’t always think you’d be best for them. Yes, yes, I know now that’s how speed-dating works too!

I was lucky, however, to find a great match in Kids Club Kampala, a non-profit that works in and around Kampala, Uganda, to bring hope and love to poor communities specifically by working with children and women. Olivia Barker, their UK Director, is a lovely person who is very committed to the cause she works for and I am privileged to be helping her take Kids Club Kampala to a wider audience.

As we speak, Olivia has just left London to go to Uganda for 3 months to work on the ground there. There’s lots that anyone interested can do to help:

–          Sign up to their monthly newsletter; here’s their latest one

–          Read and comment on their blog if you find their stories interesting

–          Follow them on Twitter (that’s an easy one!)

–          Like them on Facebook to get updates

–          Last but not least, donate via JustGiving to help them continue doing what they do

Their Ewafe project (‘where we belong’) to stop child abandonment in Uganda is live for another hour (but all contributions will be appreciated).

Give Now

Capitalist Good: Brands for a better system

In February, I submitted this essay to the Admap Prize 2013. The shortlist was announced last week, and sadly I didn’t make it. Still, that means I can happily publish my essay here for the loyal readers of my blog (!). I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It gave me the opportunity to explore and link a number of things I’d been thinking of and helped me fall upon some very interesting research from across the globe. 

Milton Friedman

Experience moulds personal beliefs in a way textbooks really can’t.

Like many others before me and probably many more hence, as a teenager with somewhat socialist tendencies I used to naively think that it was the moral obligation of corporations to work for social good. After all, who could say that doing good for society was a bad thing?

Years later I read Milton Friedman, and I don’t think any sentence burned in my memory more than “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

I realised it was the crystallisation of my own experience. I started my career doing field research on poor communities in India before I moved to the corporate world – a move necessitated for me by the fact that charitable work, as enlightening as it was, simply didn’t pay enough. The for-profit world gave me what the non-profit world couldn’t at the time: a financial backbone – the backbone that was defined by Friedman in that statement.

Antonio Argandoña, an Economics professor at IESE Business School, mentioned in 2005 that what Friedman said was aligned with a simple classical economics theory, the efficiency principle, which says that people and institutions always try to minimize the resources used to achieve a goal in order to achieve maximum efficiency. The purpose of economic institutions, he says, is therefore ‘to contribute to the system’s maximum efficiency’ and therefore anything that distracts them from that goal is undesirable, including a plea to do right by society. Friedman’s words had a solid economic (if capitalist) grounding, irrespective of the philosophical opinions that anyone else might choose to air (including my younger self).

However, there are two things to remember with regard to what Friedman said that relate to the crux of this essay, the brand’s primary objective of maximizing profit. The first is that since Friedman propounded his theory the world has become a very different place. His words still accurately describe the key objective of business – to increase its profits – but the context is completely different, so the route to achieving that objective is no longer the same. Second is the importance of systems thinking in any discussion of brands and corporate social responsibility (CSR) today – “the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole”, as Wikipedia defines it. Systems thinking as an area of scientific study harks back to the time of the World Wars, but as a theory linked to CSR has only become popular over the last five years.

In a 2006 McKinsey study, many executives in fact disagreed with Friedman’s thesis as they viewed CSR as a way for them to manage risk as well as the multiple socio-political challenges facing their businesses, including climate change, healthcare and human rights concerns – issues which arguably weren’t as big when Friedman wrote his text. Heads of businesses are now viewing CSR from a systems thinking perspective themselves.

A changing world order

In 1970, we lived in the era of manufacturing. Trade unions held enormous influence over corporate executives, to the extent that Friedman openly stated in his well-known New York Times Magazine piece that year that he was more or less aligned with Adam Smith’s way of thinking with regard to the demand for business to have a ‘social responsibility’: those who “affected to trade for public good” were doing so out of undemocratic compulsion. But today we’re living in the age of the customer, as Forrester Research describes it in a recent report on the 21st century brand-building experience, where responding to people’s concerns is key to success.

To illustrate, the latest results from Havas’ Meaningful Brands Index shows that almost 85% of people across the world expect brands to contribute to individual and community wellbeing, an even larger proportion than in 2010 when the study was last done.

Let’s take one area of CSR, sustainability, for the sake of brevity (though as Faris Yakob notes in his paper ‘Good for Business’, there are multiple benefits to ethical business practice, including employee retention, brand value, increased efficiency and access to capital, amongst others). Ongoing research by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group proves the positive impact of corporate investment in sustainability initiatives: they have been tracking the impact of sustainability on corporate profits since 2010 and saw a 23% year-on-year increase in 2012 in the number of respondents claiming profit from these programmes.

Examples of brands adopting sustainability as a profit-oriented business model include Unilever, whose CEO Paul Polman mentioned in January that the company’s share prices have effectively doubled in the four years since they first announced their Sustainable Living Plan, and Marks & Spencer, whose CEO Marc Bolland last year announced that Plan A, their strategy to do business in a more ethical and sustainable manner, yielded £185m in net benefits over the last five years, which were then  reinvested into the business.

It is worth noting in this context the role of the shareholder. As Charles Handy (2002) puts it, shareholders are more like investors because all they care about is a return on their money. But focussing on the interests of shareholders as one stakeholder group at the expense of others (consumers, governments, NGOs, suppliers, employees and debtors) could be detrimental to the business in the long run because of the inter-connectedness of the world in which we live today. Economic, social and political events in one part of the world can have significant impact on a business in another – think of the 2008 financial crisis or even the Arab Spring, where North American businesses are said to have felt the most impact due to increased fuel prices pushing up operation and production costs, according to a report following the political unrest by professional services firm Grant Thornton.

As the number of educated and financially well-off consumers grows across the globe, it is also possible that they represent a small (and growing) proportion of shareholders themselves. And as shareholders, they have a right to comment on the direction of the business. As with the role of CSR, the role of the shareholder is also morphing.

Over the past decade or so, as the profits of large corporates have ballooned out of proportion to their expenses, people have started questioning their role as customers in contributing to their growth. They have more access to technology and are more aware of the impact of the brands they purchase in some other part of their country or the world. People now understand the role of a business in the larger societal system.

If a business is to respond to customer demands, then integrating social behaviour into its brand strategy, as Faris Yakob states, simply becomes business sense rather than a CSR mechanism.

Breakthrough capitalism and systems thinking

It isn’t a coincidence that the popularity and financial success of socially responsible brands (such as Innocent and Method) is coming at a time that we’re seeing an explosion of entrepreneurs, and especially social entrepreneurs, across the world. This phenomenon is evidence of Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ in action.

Schumpeter first spoke about ‘creative destruction’ in 1942 with regard to Marx’s advocacy of socialism, saying that socialism in some form would, as Marx declared, become dominant, but not in the way Marx envisioned. Schumpeter’s theory was that the success of capitalism would lead to the capitalist democratic majority imposing restrictions on entrepreneurship because it threatened to undermine the traditional capitalist structure. Dissatisfied with this situation, the more liberal capitalists would then evolve into socialists. This turn of events, Schumpeter said, would naturally come about when education became accessible to larger numbers of people and created more intellectuals in society – which is the case today (as indicated by the recent growth of online learning ventures like the Khan Academy, Codecademy and Skillshare).

The spurt in the growth of start-ups and venture capitalists over the last few years proves Schumpeter’s point; he was hailed as a visionary by policy analysts in Washington D.C over a decade ago.  A Wired article from 2002 recalls a paper presented by former U.S Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and his ex-deputy Bradford DeLong, who observed that “the economy of the future is likely to be ‘Schumpeterian,'” with creative destruction the norm and innovation the main driver of wealth.”

Creative destruction is being used as the base for a new theory being explored in the UK that is also looking at the case for brands enhancing social and economic conditions as part of their business agenda. It is called ‘breakthrough capitalism’ and tracks the symptoms of the systemic breakdown of society (the 2011 UK riots and the Eurozone crisis for example) to the growth of a new economic order that is seeing an increase in the number of individuals and organisations that hope to tackle the imbalance in the distribution of wealth (organisations like the US-based Ashoka Innovators for the Public and Acumen Fund, and the UK’s Skoll Centre for Entrepreneurship and SustainAbility, for example).

Breakthrough capitalism has its roots in systems thinking. It posits that companies who reap financial benefit in the future will be those that act early on the current disequilibrium, to cater to the sustainable future that will not only be necessary but demanded by society.

Case in point: Nike, whose most recent corporate strategy report saw CEO Mark Parker admitting that ‘rising energy costs, increasingly scarce natural resources and demands for equal access to economic opportunities’ could cause their profits to shrink. Sustainability is therefore now a key business objective for the company, along with innovation. A Guardian story on the Nike report puts it beautifully: ‘Nike’s corporate story, is, in some way, a reflection of capitalism’s own. Few companies have ridden the globalisation wave higher or faster.’

It is in this landscape that one of the action points for businesses and governments at the Breakthrough Capitalism Forum in London last year included ending the quarterly earnings system of reporting, a viewpoint echoed by Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman before their latest earnings report at the beginning of this year: “We’re not going into the three-month rat-races. We’re not working for our shareholders. We’re working for the consumer, we are focused and the shareholder gets rewarded.”

Project Shakti
From Unilever’s case study on Project Shakti

Another excellent example of CSR in a systems thinking context is Unilever’s Project Shakti in India. As of 2010, through Project Shakti, Unilever has trained and supported over 45,000 female entrepreneurs who sell the brand’s products across more than 100,000 villages and 3 million households a month, simultaneously giving them a livelihood. These are areas that would have otherwise been very difficult for the company to reach through their traditional distribution network. The programme hopes to grow to cover 75,000 women by 2015, and in 2011 expanded to bring rural males into the programme as well. Its success has seen it being replicated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam; in markets where the programme exists they enjoy market share that is significantly higher than non-Shakti markets.

A better capitalism

It is clear that the time for ‘a better capitalism’, as Sir Richard Branson refers to it, has come. He is an ardent advocate of this philosophy; last year he founded the B-Team (‘a Plan B for capitalism’) – a group of business leaders whose goal is to make capitalism a more long-term and socially responsible philosophy.

B-Corp

In fact what was previously seen as more of a social objective now has a legal framework: B-Corps or ‘benefit corporations’ have been signed into law by 12 US states (with 14 more working on it), thanks to the efforts of the non-profit B-Lab, as a way of giving businesses “greater freedom to pursue strategies which they believe benefit society as a whole rather than having to concentrate on maximising profits for the next financial quarter” (The Economist, January 4, 2012). Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Plum Organics and Method are some of the more well-known brands to have got Certified B-Corp status from B-Lab, meaning they meet a high standard of overall social and environmental performance. They are amongst almost 700 companies in 24 countries with this designation.

After many years of discussion about the ethics of business, it is now truly possible to achieve profits in a responsible manner. What is needed now is an actionable plan to make this a bigger part of brand activity. Going back to sustainability as an example, the MIT/BCG research shows that sustainability-driven innovations can drive profits best when they are done in conjunction with other business model changes. Nestlé, for example, was able to achieve cost savings when they discovered that they could generate steam by burning discarded coffee grounds and use that instead of natural gas when they needed steam in their factories (typically part of the manufacturing process). About 60% of the steam they now use comes from these coffee grounds. Another positive by-product of this process is that they have been able to divert 1.24 million tons of coffee grounds away from landfills.

In order for business-wide changes like this to actually happen, top management needs to buy in to this process. A brand to emulate in this regard is 150-year-old industrial packaging goods company Greif, where the Chief Sustainability Officer sits on the executive strategy team and reports directly to the CEO.

David Ogilvy is known to have said that the aim of advertising is ‘to sell – or else’. That hard line today needs to be interpreted from a completely different angle: the aim of advertising is still to sell, but we need to sell to a better, more connected society that demands more of the brands they love. That is a much more difficult proposition than simply to sell for profit, and requires planners that understand the changing nature of society and business, and who appreciate the role of social good in growing their clients’ brands.

As the bridge between consumers and the brand, we should also remember that it is our duty as agencies to introduce and keep the social-as-profit issue on the table during discussions with clients. Big brands like Nike, Unilever and Marks & Spencer now know the serious impact of social good on the bottom line, but all brands, at every level, should be thinking about this. If we consistently challenge everyone involved to explore this theme, together we can produce better, more significant work as an industry.

It isn’t a question of whether brands CAN maximize profit and be a force for social good at the same time anymore, it’s simply a question of how and when they do it.

REFERENCES

Argandoña, Antonio. Firm, Market Economy and Social Responsibility, Working Paper 600. IESE Business School – University of Navarra, July 2005. http://www.iese.edu/research/pdfs/DI-0600-E.pdf

Balch, Oliver. “Nike reveals a new, innovative game plan for sustainability”, Guardian Sustainable Business blog, 4 May 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/nike-sustainability-report-social-environmental-impact

B-Corporation, http://www.bcorporation.net/

Carroll, Archie B. and Kareem. M. Shabana. The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice. In The International Journal of Management Reviews (2010): 85-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2009.00275.x

de Dios, Sara. Meaningful marketing: A brand utopian world. Admap, April 2012.

Elkington, John. The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier. Oxford: Routledge, 2012.

Elman, Adam and Mike Barry. The key lessons from the Plan A business case. Marks & Spencer, 2012. http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/documents/publications/2012/plan_a_report_2012.pdf

Friedman, Milton. The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. The New York Times Magazine. September 13, 1970. http://www.umich.edu/~thecore/doc/Friedman.pdf

Hainmueller, Jens and Michael Hiscox. Buying Green? Field Experimental Tests of Consumer Support for Environmentalism. MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-14, May 18, 2012.

Handy, C. What’s a business for? Harvard Business Review, 80(12), 49-56. 2002.

Havas Media. Meaningful Brands Factsheet. http://www.havasmedia.com/documents/meaningful-brands-pdfs/hm_mb_global-factsheet-final.pdf

Hernandez-Murillo, Ruben and Christopher J. Martinek. Corporate Social Responsibility can be Profitable. The Regional Economist, April 2009. http://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/re/articles/?id=1258

Hindustan Unilever. Project Shakti Case Study. http://www.hul.co.in/sustainable-living/casestudies/Casecategory/Project-Shakti.aspx

Ioannou, Ioannis and George Serafeim. The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Investment Recommendations, Working Paper 11-017. Harvard Business School, August 2010. http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~hiscox/IoannouSerafeim.pdf

Kiron, David, Nina Kruschwitz, Knut Haanaes, Martin Reeves and Eugene Goh. The Innovation Bottom Line: How companies that see sustainability as both a necessity and an opportunity, and change their business models in response, are finding success. MIT Sloan Management Review Research Report, Winter 2013. https://www.bcgperspectives.com/Images/MITSMR-BCG-Sustainability-Report-2013_tcm80-126806.pdf

Knowledge@Wharton Today. North American Businesses Hurt Most by Arab Spring. January 4, 2012. http://knowledgetoday.wharton.upenn.edu/2012/01/north-american-businesses-hurt-most-by-arab-spring/

Mohr, Lois. A, Deborah J. Webb and Katherine E. Harris. Do Consumers Expect Companies to be Socially Responsible? The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Buying Behaviour. In The Journal of Consumer Affairs 35.1 (2001): 45-72. 

Reinhardt, Forest L. and Robert N. Stavins. Corporate social responsibility, business strategy, and the environment. In Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 26.2 (2010): 164-181.

Rose, Frank. “The Father of Creative Destruction”, Wired, March 2002.

Schumpeter, Joseph. A. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, (Second Edition, 1947). Oxford: Routledge, 1994.

Smith, Richard E. Defining Corporate Social Responsibility: A Systems Approach for Socially Responsible Capitalism. University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons, July 1, 2011. http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=od_theses_mp

Stokes, Tracy, Luca S. Paderni, David M. Cooperstein and Alex Hayes. Invest in the Brand Building Experience. Forrester Research, November 5, 2012.

The Economist, “B-Corps: Firms with benefits”, January 4, 2012.

The McKinsey global survey of business executives: Business and society. The McKinsey Quarterly. 2, 33-39, 2006

Volans. Breakthrough Capitalism Program, Progress Report 1, August 2012. http://www.breakthroughcapitalism.com/files/Breakthrough_Capitalism_Progress_Report.pdf

Wikipedia. Systems thinking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking

Yakob, Faris. Good for Business – The Business Case for Social Brand Behavior. http://farisyakob.typepad.com/files/good-for-business-faris.pdf

Zabarenko, Deborah. Executive Perspective: CEO Paul Polman from Unilever on “ending the three-month rat race”, Thomson Reuters blog, 3 January 2013. http://blog.thomsonreuters.com/index.php/executive-perspective-ceo-paul-polman-from-unilever-on-ending-the-three-month-rat-race/

[Cross-posted at the PHD UK blog]

Calling tech ventures that impact young people: apply for @BII_CSV’s #techforgoodchallenge

Arc, an Omnicom company I am involved with as part of PHD, is helping out on a project that I’d like to spread the word about.

Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of Big Issue, looking to fund challenges that solve social and environmental problems. They are currently running the Tech For Good Challenge as part of their Corporate Social Venturing programme, where they are looking to invest £500,000 along with providing mentoring and support to 10 early-stage social technology ventures that will significantly improve the lives of young people.

The ventures would have already developed or launched a product or service, and identified a potential market opportunity that can deliver both financial and social returns.

There are no repayments on the £50,000 loan for the first three years after which Big Issue Invest would have the option of either converting the loan into a 5% equity, or equity-like stake, or ask for repayment of the loan with an accrued interest rate of 5% p.a.

If you are an organisation that fits this description, or if you know someone who is, do consider applying. The deadline is 15th April 2013, next week.

Blog Action Day 2012-The Power of We. Profiling some startups from @emergelab #BAD12

Image credit: Daniel Lee via Flickr courtesy a CC license

Today is Blog Action Day 2012. I’ve participated in it the last couple of years so I figured why stop now.

The theme for this year is the Power of We, “a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around he world”.

I’m sort of hitting two birds with one stone, because the groups I’m going to profile below are ones that are part of the Emerge Venture Lab, some of whom I mentored recently.

Cooking with Mama: a cookery school social enterprise in Central London that gives unemployed and underemployed women the chance to share their skills with a large audience.

Meducation: a network for medical students and professionals (over 22,000 strong and growing) that enables them to share their knowledge and ideas, enabling them to become better doctors. Dr. Alastair Buick, the founder, is currently searching for impact investors so if anyone has any ideas to share I would love to pass them along.

Gametastic: a programme focussed on getting girls aged 9-14 interested in technology and design (and more broadly STEM) through engaging with a game (currently in development).

StudentFunder: a platform that hopes to enable Master’s degree students raise loans and donations online so that they can pay for their education. Juan Guerra, the founder, is working with Coventry University on a pilot programme at the moment, looking at ways of bringing accepted students who would otherwise not be able to join the course into the programme. He’s also walking the talk and trying to raise funds for his startup by selling a film that tracks his journey through the Alps in an elephant costume (!). You can read more and help him here.

Across the world from your classroom, with @skypeclassroom

My lovely friends at Made by Many have made a new animation video explaining Skype in the Classroom. The service itself has changed considerably, and made a lot of progress in becoming even more useful for teachers across the globe to use. They’re also looking for experts in different fields who’d like to share their expertise with children. Log-in is now simplified: teachers can log in with their Facebook, Twitter or Skype IDs, and it’s very simple to search for collaborators using the new profile pages and homepage. They built the Collections section after I left, and I love how it groups projects together under themes too. Take a look, and don’t forget to pass it on to any friends or colleagues in the education field.

Introducing Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.