Thursday, April 28, 2011

When Women Gather ..............

When Women Gather

Sitting in this flight to addis and my mind as usual is refusing to shut down and sleep on the five-hour flight.  I'm thinking of all sorts of things, my mind going from work issues to sponsorship issues to personal issues, to life, to love, to children, to needs, to wants, to shoes (which I am unapolegetically crazy about) and then it settles on this group of women I have come to know recently and we come together under a moniker "The Sisterhood". My Minks said it sounded like a cult and I said to her - This is one cult of joy I want to belong to.

These women -three of them- have become my sisters, my friends, my laughing partners, my prayer lifters, and my comediennes. They are not your run of the mill women, they are super accomplished professionals, extremely smart and successful in their various businesses - they all sit on businesses that are well known and well run.  They are beautiful, well heeled, extremely intelligent, fashionable but most of all they are my sisters.

I've always heard this cliche that women are their own worse enemies and when they gather, they only gossip. I have never agreed with this and my sisters have proved me right. This group of women have refused to gossip and have refused to be their own enemies. 

These women discuss businesses, they share strategies, they share ideas, they eat lots of food and cheesecake, they laugh in the restaurant as if they are the only guests and only catch themselves to be of proper behavior.

These women share their pains and joys and successes and failures; they are not afraid to cry, or complain or just be quiet.  I have been among many women, but my sisters are different. I have shared my frustrations and fears and they did not judge me. They did not preach to me or make me feel like a failure. They just held me and made me feel like a queen.   

They are being celebrated on various platforms at such dizzying speeds. The world is seeing them and wondering who they are.  They are quiet, stoic achievers. They celebrate each others successes as if it was novel to the world. They have truly proven to me again that indeed, women are a strong force to reckon with.

When these women gather, they sing each others praises but most of all, we pray. And we eat cheesecake. And then we laugh. And then we pray for each other.

It's Girlfriend's month and to all the girls in my life, allow me sing your praises to high heavens. Thank you for being my sisters. Audrey, Bidemi, Enife and Nneka - may laughter remain whenever we gather.

To my other girlfriends - A-girl my bonkie, Skye my bestie, Minks my second bestie - my daughters - you rule my world, you are my cheerleaders, my sources of super inspiration. You who know my quiet pains and quiet joys. May we be friends forever.

As always, just my musings.................   

Monday, April 25, 2011

CSR International: CSR in Nigeria

CSR International: CSR in Nigeria: "By Wayne Visser A few thoughts after my trip to Lagos last month ... I am not naive enough to believe that CSR heralds a new dawn for Nige..."

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Existentiality of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

As I began working as a CSR consultant, I have met with stiff resistance and unnecessary arguments about the concept of corporate social responsibility and the social contract. Critics of CSR argue that the social contract is a "fiction”, an intangible notion but I argue for the existence or existentiality of the social contract. The social contract exists and functions as a conceptual and analogical system.

The emergence of CSR as an issue for business today is as result of the enormous and rapid changes in society that have occurred of late. Corporate social responsibility encompasses not only what companies do with their profits, but also how they make them. It goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental impacts.  Important as well in this discourse is how they manage relationships within the business sphere: the workplace, the marketplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm.  Arguing about the existence of CSR is like arguing if businesses exist in the first place because the social contract is the prerequisite for the very existence of businesses.

Another group asks the question: “are businesses social institutions?” basing their arguments on the claims of the Economist Milton Friedman - that the corporation has few, if any explicitly social responsibilities. Friedman's position is captured in his pronouncement that "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" (Friedman 1983).

My answer also begins with a question – “do businesses operate within a social environment or do they operate in the abstract?”  The issue of the social nature of businesses is central to the character and extent of business responsibilities to society at large. Businesses exist within a society and as part of a society.  They exist because of what analyst will call “a social permission” or “public license”.

Businesses have great influence to effect change in society and this can be attributed to the fact that since business decisions can bring about consequences that bear on the interests of others, businesses must think about their social responsibilities.  Businesses that foster a good community within the workplace and respect the social community on the outside can make possible the moral development of both employees and society.

The existence of CSR within organizations must go beyond sustainability reports and awards. I am led to conclude that given the social nature of business, corporations, their owners, managers, and directors are to be encouraged to leave behind the antediluvian and deficient vision of the corporation as a narrowly economic, private institution, and to situate this new vision within their business strategy. Once this conceptual move is made, more extensive social responsibility for the betterment of all, including businesses, will follow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BRIC becomes BRICS as South Africa joins the rising global power.

South Africa joins Brazil, Russia, India and China as an emerging global force. This strategically positions Africa on the map. The strategic importance of this is no doubt a case for us to ponder in Nigeria.  Are we still the giant of Africa?

For a while economic experts speculated and forecasted that Nigeria will be the first country in Africa to make it to BRIC because of her size and future economic growth. However, while we sat down as usual, waiting for it to be given to us because we are Nigeria, South Africa was busy lobbying for a membership into the league of the largest emerging economies - BRIC.

Clearly, we have not shown leadership as the ‘giant of Africa” that we are.  Our Finance Minister has not shown his clear understanding of how critical it is that we are at the forefront of Africa’s economic issues.  For someone who was at Goldman Sachs, where Jim O’Neill forecasted the powerful placement of the BRIC countries for 2050, Aganga has not used his respected position and voice for Nigeria.

The growing economic and political influence of the BRIC has been a source of concern to the world, particularly the US. In 2008, the National Intelligence Council produced a document titled "Global Trends 2025" that predicted: "The whole international system will be revolutionized. Not only will new players - Brazil, Russia, India and China - have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game."

The document further states: "The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.... Growth projections for Brazil, Russia, India, and China indicate they will collectively match the original G-7¹s share of global GDP by 2040-2050. China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country. If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world's second largest economy and will be a leading military power." In actual fact, China became the second largest global economy in August 2010 -  15 years before 2025.

What does South Africa’s inclusion mean for Africa? First, this has given Africa a direct voice within the grouping, although it is only South Africa that feels that at forums such as these, it must represent the region as well as itself. Secondly, it ensures, if properly utilized, the opportunity for the presentation of Africa’s developmental issues vis-a-vis the ongoing transformation of the global political economy being played out on the continent. The capacity of South Africa to leverage its inclusion for the discussion of issues relevant and critical to Africa’s development without necessarily limiting it to its own national interests will be critically examined by the rest of Africa.

I worry that as is and unless we get our acts together, our next door neighbor, who is in fanatical competition with us in attaining global recognition as the leading economy of West Africa may just get invited to join the BRICS long before Nigeria.  Ghanaian analysts have found it interesting to comment on how much we have relied on our population to get us there, rather than ensuring our house is in order.  Even with our economy growing at 7.8 percent annually, it is critical that we begin to look inwards and strengthen our footing in the global order.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BP Tries to Hide Gulf Spill in Sustainability Report

Chart Of The Day II - The Atlantic

The Africa CEO Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility (AR-CSR)

There's been a buzz around the hosting of the Africa CEO Round-table and Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria by Nigerians.

The arguments state that Nigeria is no example for the practice of corporate social responsibility and that our corporate and social investments are more of corporate philanthropy than for social impact.

Interestingly, the interest generated by this upcoming event is much more than we have expected.  Big brands from Brazil, Angola, South Africa, Ghana, USA, and the Netherlands have called in to indicate interest in attending and partnering on this continental epoch making event whilst the Nigerian organizations are on the peripheries.

Is this a sign that we are truly not ready for the discourse and evolution of what corporate social responsibility and sustainability is all about? If your brand or organization were to be measured by your CSR, sustainability and green initiatives, what will be your score?

Have you ever measured the impact of your CSR initiatives? Is it just about your Sustainability Report? Would you submit your organization to a CSR Audit team?

A new era of social consciousness is evolving throughout the world - citizens are embracing a new level of commitment to one another and to the environment, not just to their businesses. This shift is creating a significant change among stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, and suppliers) who are looking to brands to help define their role within society and for a purchase to count for something more than just an acquisition.

The ARCSR affords you an opportunity to tell Africa what you have done so far. Just be there!.
Register to attend at