Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative

Global Responsibility – Issue 5 – June 2011

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Global Responsibility - Issue 5

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Global Responsibility is not Corporate Social Responsibility. The two terms are not interchangeable. The former stands for engaging with the world’s challenges head on, the latter for peer comparison in a broader system.

Is this perhaps harsh? I do not believe so. In this edition of Global Responsibility, I hope that you will find yourself agreeing with Grant Jones and Rudolph Gabrich that they are talking about something very different from CSR. Cycle Chalao!, winners of the GRLI Ambassadors Award, demonstrate that entrepreneurial creativity can make the apparently impossible happen – bike sharing schemes in the developing world. Richard Barrett has developed a superb manual for leaders in his new book and the Jo(h)ns (Rayment and Smith) identify leadership failings under their term “MisLeadership.” Ana Magyar and Uwe Steinwender talk about how their companies are engaging with the deep questions of Global Responsibility.

Global responsibility begins with a question; “What kind of world do we want to build with the enormous resources we master?’ This question challenges us at a personal level. CSR does not. CSR allows the best organisations to sit cocooned in bubble wrap on an island surrounded by a sea of broken glass. On CSR Island, we benchmark against our peers, write our reports using the Global Reporting Initiative framework, fill in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes questionnaires and write Communications on Progress for the UN Global Compact. On CSR Island, the best of us believe we are at somewhere near 95 out of 100 in our performance.

But if we step off of CSR Island into Global Responsibility we are in a sea of broken glass. Our bubble wrap-cocoon of self congratulation and behavioural complacency is ripped to shreds on the shards of a world where social justice for all seven billion of us human beings is at best a distant dream and where we continue to focus our extraordinary creativity and energy to grow an economic system which is already hell-bent on destroying the natural world on which we depend for our existence.

When the bubble wrap bursts and we ask the question of what kind of world we want to create, we realise that the best of us will score five out of a hundred. We are forced to re-examine the twin absurdities that there can be infinite growth on a finite earth, and that we must have such growth, because shopping is what makes us happy. We are challenge to rethink the idea that GDP growth IS the purpose of our great human enterprise. Only then we are on the journey towards global responsibility. Only then we can set goals for ourselves and our organisations of which we will be proud when we are frail and old. This is global responsibility and it is not CSR.