Here we are in 2011 and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) is heading into its seventh year of activity. Seven years is, in many traditions, recognized as a turning point and for GRLI this is no exception. As a community of action, we are always restlessly seeking the lever points that will unlock change towards the development of a new generation of globally responsible leaders. And in this seventh year we sense that real progress is within our grasp.
On the surface the idea of global responsibility feels like it has been around for long enough and is in sufficient common usage that it is an old friend. Yet, it only takes a small amount of digging to discover that in practice it is a phrase that is increasingly adapted to cloak unchanged practices rather than a signal of genuine transformation. Like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) it risks becoming a suitcase phrase, adopted by all and co-opted to re-package the status quo.
The global agenda is social justice and environmental sustainability. In the development of a generation of leaders with the capacity and will to play catalytic roles in leading their organisations to contribute to this agenda, we remain in the starting blocks.
This edition of Global Responsibility continues the work of creating a platform of reflection for partners in the GRLI and pointers to the future beyond incremental CSR and towards real global responsibility.
Henri-Claude de Bettignies considers CSR fatigue and the nuances of China after his experiences of living and working in Shanghai for the past few years. Mark Esposito goes to the heart of the problem of CSR as a programatic agenda – his insights resonate with the experience of quality management in companies where a key element of really successful approaches has been getting the responsibility for them out of the quality department and into line management. The same applies to our agenda in business schools where responsibility largely remains the domain of specialists in “Centres.
For anyone who thinks the next generation doesn’t get it, have a look at the two articles from Zenaida Pereira and Christina Trott. These future leaders certainly do, and they share both a clear-eyed understanding of the scale of the failure of the current generation and a powerful determination to create a different future
Mary Gentile gives an overview of her innovative and thoroughly practical approach to values development and there is news of a new book by Derick de Jongh and his colleagues on interviews with corporate leaders in South Africa. Carol Adams explains how La Trobe University, host of the GRLI’s first General Assembly of 2011, are tackling responsibility at a university wide level.
The GRLI is focussed on making a practical difference and John Alexander writes a thought provoking piece on our work to develop a practical mechanism to assess Globally Responsible Leadership through the development of Indicators. In the same vein, there is a snapshot of the vital SB 21 project, which is developing the blueprint of the business school of the future. These are just two of our lever projects, so-called because they are targeted at lever points for systemic change.