Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Archive for the ‘Reports’ Category

Elegant Disruption

Posted by jembendell on August 31, 2012

Just over five years ago I began working on the luxury industry.  I thought, why cant these elite brands not excel in social and environmental performance? I researched, wrote and produced the report Deeper Luxury for WWF-UK, and it triggered a bit of a furore in the fashion press and wider luxury industry (about 8000 sites now link to the report). 5 years on, I’ve helped some luxury companies with their social and environmental impacts. But I havent seen much change. Some large firms like PPR have embraced the agenda, although we wait in anticipation for more results, in terms of positive social and environmental outcomes. In the 5 years, what inspired me the most were the entrepreneurs I met. People who were creating businesses to address social and environmental problems, and targetting the luxury segment as a way to do that. I began to realise something might be in this – that these entrepreneurs might be shaping the future of luxury, and that they might be revealing a new way we can engage in social change. In the new study, I profile sustainable luxury firms Elvis and Kresse, Tesla Motors, Shokay, Source4Style, Rags2Riches, Positive Luxury, Timothy Han and Nue Luxe… It’s called “Elegant Disruption: How luxury and society can shape each-other for good”. It took about a year to write, as it involved a lot of conversations to understand just what the potential of luxury might be to influence social change. Ill be presenting it at conferences in Brisbane and Barcelona in the coming weeks.Elegant Disruption

Abstract, August 2012.

From http://www.griffith.edu.au/business-government/asia-pacific-centre-for-sustainable-enterprise/publications/working-paper-series/issue-9
This paper outlines the contemporary luxury sector, showing it is global, thriving and influential. It shows how creative destruction is typical in most industry sectors, including luxury, and how disruptive innovation by entrepreneurs is key to that process. It proposes that the current time is potentially disruptive for incumbent luxury brands and groups, due to five key trends that are beginning to re-frame the markets that luxury brands sell to. Sustainable luxury entrepreneurs from USA, UK, Philippines, India, Argentina, China and Hong Kong are profiled and described as  pursuing “elegant disruption”: a well-designed intervention in markets that both uses and affects aspirations in ways that change patterns of consumption, production or exchange, for a positive societal outcome. The paper reviews the response of mainstream luxury brands to the sustainability agenda, proposing some possible reasons why they appear to be encumbered in embracing this agenda fully. Some of the paradoxes in the notion of “sustainable luxury” are described, in order to draw implications for both the luxury industry and people interested in positive social change. The paper draws upon the authors five years of interaction with the luxury industry on sustainability issues, and is therefore written as a “first person inquiry” and draws upon principles of “appreciative inquiry” in documenting the breakthrough approaches of some sustainable luxury entrepreneurs.

Download PDF (3.1 MB)

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Reports, Sustainable Development | 4 Comments »

Will Swiss Economic Ideology Harm Global Health and Humanitarian Efforts?

Posted by jembendell on August 18, 2011

The Swiss franc has increased 30% against the US dollar and 20% against the Euro since last year. The pain felt by Swiss businesses is being well documented. But less well documented is the effect of this currency imbalance on international efforts to promote health, peace, human rights, and humanitarian action. Switzerland is home to many international organisations, including United Nations agencies and international charities. Many have their assets and grants denominated in US dollars or currencies other than the Swiss franc, yet their fixed costs of buildings and staff are in the extremely overvalued Swiss francs. Consequently their budgets are being ravaged by the currency imbalance, leading to mass redundancies and the cutting of various programmes, at key organisations for world affairs, such as the World Health Organisation to the International Labour Organisation. Those with seniority in such organisation are more able to hold on to their jobs, so the harder-working and far less well-paid staff are often the first ones to be shown the door. Although there need to be efficiencies found in international organisations, a sinking-ship mentality is not the way to achieve it.

The current efforts to reduce the value of the Swiss franc, by the Swiss National Bank, are reported by the Financial Times to have completely failed. Their tactics have been to increase the volume of Swiss francs, and slash interest rates. Yet as the international financial markets are spooked and want to buy Swiss francs, banks are simply buying up the excess francs. Not only is this causing a problem for Swiss businesses, it is creating a massive future risk for the Swiss economy when one day people decide they don’t need to hold so many francs. In addition, in efforts to keep the Swiss franc down, the government’s debt is spiralling. That will be compounded by recent commitments to spend billions in bail outs to suffering businesses. Such bail outs will be open for mishandling and corruption and propping up inefficient companies – especially if they are spent quickly enough to have any effect. But worse, these bail outs are like a sticking plaster for a haemorrhaging wound, as systemic solutions are required. If we compare prices across the border, the Swiss franc might even be 100% overvalued already, and the Western monetary crisis is only beginning its latest phase. This is no momentary problem. Imagination beyond old ideologies is required for systemic solutions.

The answer is so simple. The Swiss government could impose a currency transactions tax on any purchase of Swiss francs or assets/instruments denominated in Swiss francs. This transaction tax would reduce the demand for Swiss francs, and generate revenues for the Swiss government. These new revenues could be used to pay down the wholly unnecessary new Swiss government debt, and finance a new emergency international cooperation fund. That fund could issue core-budget grants to Swiss-based non profit organisations and international agencies for them to maintain or increase their employment of non-senior staff. In terms of the UN, this would mean staff below P-3 level. Such staff spend a greater percentage of their wages on local businesses than more senior staff, who invest it abroad, or drive over the border to get cheaper goods, services and property in the Eurozone. Targetted action like this would maintain a key element of the Swiss economy and society, and its contribution to the world.

The arguments against a currency transactions tax have always been vacuous, ideologically driven and about protecting short term profits. Its not workable? Tell that to countries like Brazil who have had a transaction tax for years. It will dent confidence in the economy? Well what do we mean by economy? The current market for the franc? That needs denting! The longer term prospects for the economy require effective denting right now. Given that leading Eurozone nations want to impose a similar tax in future, this is a great opportunity for Switzerland to lead the way. There are strong business arguments for a currency transactions tax, due to the effect on cooling volatility, and strong government reasons, by making up for falling tax revenues. We documented these issues in a report for the Swiss charity Bread for All, yet we found bankers and top government officials wedded to an unthinking belief in no new policy innovations to harness financial markets for the productive economy, public finances or common good.

Why is it such a crisis when the world wants to own your national currency? It should not have to be a crisis, indeed it could be a major opportunity for the Swiss people and the wider world who benefit from its role as a home for agencies of international cooperation. The only thing stopping this being an opportunity is the ideological blinkers of top bankers and politicians who are currently exhibiting zero creativity in transforming this situation from crisis to opportunity. Impose a transaction tax, to release Swiss business from the high franc, pay down the government debt, and fund a more dynamic international cooperation community. If such effective action isn’t taken, some citizens may start asking if the private ownership of 45% of the national bank by private banks like UBS in some way compromises its ability to take action in the public interest. And if such action isnt taken, we will see once again how economic ideologies in certain circles can harm the lives of poor and vulnerable people many thousands of miles away.

Professor Jem Bendell: http://www.twitter.com/jembendell

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Geneva, Reports, Sustainable Development, United Nations | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Fashionably Hated: on social change, media and the self

Posted by jembendell on August 6, 2011

I thought my mum and dad, and my colleagues’ family and friends, might be proud. It would be the 2nd time a report I co-wrote appeared in the Financial Times. The last one was Deeper Luxury, which 3 years ago helped kick off more engagement in CSR by some luxury brands. The new report is on jewellery, and the result of 18 months work, mostly pro bono by myself and my dedicated and inspirational colleague Ian Doyle. But I haven’t sent my relatives the FT link. The article patronised us, with arguments that our co-publishers Fair Jewelry Action have debunked point by point. Fortunately the report has been well-received in the industry press, with Diamonds.net doing a succinct overview.

When I read the FT article I was surprised. Surprised at how much I laughed! I thought I cared about being respected. We all do a bit, don’t we? But reading it seemed cathartic. For some years now, with my colleagues at Lifeworth Consulting, we have been trying to persuade some in the industry to be more ambitious in their responsible enterprise goals. We have got somewhere with some brands, but mostly its the start ups who get it and they don’t have funds to pay for our help. Managers from the big brands, however, often depress me with their fancy lunches, seminars and excuses. We offered this study for free to help those in larger firms who really want to lead, and we got trashed.

I recall the enlightened perspective of Chris Marsden when he worked at BP in the 1990s: “if Greenpeace didn’t exist Id have to invent it.” Not that we are Greenpeace – our report is far too boring, as its for industry and focuses on giving specific advice on business strategy. I suppose for every Chris Marsden there are a thousand corporate cogs. There are many proud cowards in luxury brand management.

A lesson I see for myself and anyone who works in social change within a professional context is to never confuse being respectful with being respected. To respect others and hear them out, understand their situation, is key, but to worry about being respected is imprisoning. We need more people in social change who don’t give a xxxx about being disliked and will risk their own situations to seek and then live by their unfolding truths. Its this sense of liberation that made we want to share experience here. Its important because there are now so many events of the eco-chattering classes about how to achieve systemic change, from Tallberg to Davos and beyond. By giving the mic to those with status they perpetuate the idea that those having a high status role have an insight rather than an affliction, and that calling for bigger changes is a means of change rather a way to let off steam by blaming others and situations before returning to normal life. Instead, we have to risk our acceptability, our respectability, our livelihoods, and the expectations of our families, in our daily lives at work, if we are to really explore how we can create systemic change.

But the FT article also made me realise something about journalism today. Real investigative journalism is disappearing from the mainstream press. I don’t mean the kind of illegal snooping on people to get gossip to print in tabloids, that has caused a lot of trouble in the UK just recently. I mean proper investigative journalism where issues of public importance are looked at in detail. Nick Davies did that at the Guardian to expose the phone hacking scandal, so it still exists, but is rare. The system of mainstream journalism, where owners want profits, desire happy (luxury brand) advertisers, and journalists need access to brands, and to pump out stories quickly to develop their online traffic for new ad revenue, means that the time and resources for investigative reporting have been crushed. Research has even found that many (mostly freelance) fashion journalists are also on the payrolls of PR firms and individual brands.

In that context its tough for a fashion journalist like Vanessa Friedman to write about our 58 page study one minute, and speculate on the Duchess of Cambridge’s dresses the next. The absence of investigative journalism is so accepted now that journalists can even complain about others not investigating enough, such as Vanessa complaining we didnt investigate further about Burmese rubies, without spotting the irony. Why don’t the journalists look into it?

INSEAD Professor Mark Lee Hunter told me the other day that investigative journalism is so undermined by the economics of media right now that non-traditional journalists, from bloggers and NGOs, will have to develop the skills of investigative reporting if we are to maintain some effective public discourse. He has produced a handbook with UNESCO to help. Perhaps hybrid models of media, where mainstream publications work with investigative bloggers, helping to guide and ensure their approach and credibility, will be one way of coping. What Jo Confino and colleagues are doing at Guardian Sustainable Business could be one indicator of such a situation. Other publishers may prefer to pretend they have it all under control and can produce credible articles without resources. Such pride will eventually turn them into PR agents’ megaphones.

These changes are bigger than any one person. Some may get all self-righteous about individuals at News of the World. But rather than single out individuals, we need to push for reforms in media ownership rules, so that there is diversity of owners as well as organisational types, with not-for-profit and community media having important roles to play.

We all get influenced by our colleagues and the day to day work. For instance, at Lifeworth Consulting, our desire to be helpful to people leading change in the industry may have blinded us somewhat. Rather than further investigating the issue of Burmese rubies, which was not our aim, or within our capability, when we found evidence that the EU embargo might be being broken, we should have referred this particular matter to law enforcement. Therefore I have started making the relevant enquiries about which parts of law enforcement should be informed.

So on reflection it is good that Vanessa Friedman paid the report some attention, despite the flaws we see in her article. I’m told the key thing in fashion journalism is you must not be ignored. In the rough and tumble of somewhat gossipy and cutting reporting: what doesn’t kill you… makes you more fashionable. So my real regret is that Vanessa didn’t speculate on what suit I might be wearing at my next speech.

If you are in the industry, or write about it, please read our report ‘Uplifting The Earth: The Ethical Performance of Luxury Jewellery Brands’

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Lifeworth, Media, Reports, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How an NGO report inspired a business woman to reinvent luxury

Posted by jembendell on July 22, 2011

Can an NGO report inspire a new enterprise? An enterprise which after just 3 years is booming and winning business awards for turning waste into luxury accessories? The WWF report Deeper Luxury helped Kresse Wesling identify a market niche, turning waste firehose into high-end design. You can hear Kresse explain how she sees creative opportunities where others see trash, in her TED talk. Her success with Elvis & Kresse demonstrates how a shift in perception uncovers new opportunities. Given how the big brands mostly grumbled about the Deeper Luxury report when we launched it at the end of 2007, its gratifying to see how such ideas can be generative in the right hands.

With Fair Jewelry Action we recently followed up the report with “Uplifting the Earth” which maps out a progressive agenda for the jewellery industry. Once again, we heard grumbles from incumbent brands about our analysis, and it is the newer, smaller brands who are leading the way with innovations in responsible sourcing.

So let incumbent executives can grumble… the future is for people like Kresse. Indeed, it’s time for more “disruptive luxury”. Which is the name of my talk at the launch of the world’s first sustainable luxury awards, in Buenos Aires this coming November.

Posted in ALN, Corporations, Lifeworth, NGOs, Reports, Sustainable Development, WWF | Leave a Comment »

BBC implies in its “Fact of the Day”, that Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi were related!

Posted by jembendell on February 10, 2010

In a schoolboy error the BBC confused J Nehru with MK Gandhi on its homepage today.  A screen shot follows below. In its “Fact of the Day” it says:

Gandhi’s father was State Prime Minister of Porbander in India. Two years before he died, when Gandhi was 13, he married him off to a 14-year-old girl.

“My father was a statesman. I’m a political woman. My father was a saint. I’m not.” INDIRA GANDHI

Ms Indira Gandhi was speaking of her father Jawaharlal Nehru. The juxtaposition of the two statements on the BBC suggests they see a relation between the two Gandhis.

While it’s good to see MK Gandhi mentioned on the BBC, it’s a pity its done with such sloppiness. It’s not uncommon for famous names to be mentioned and their lives and insights into life just assumed. So many people like to quote Adam Smith in defence of current forms of capitalism, without any knowledge of his writings about the role of values and the importance of up-close ownership and face-to-face accountability through the market. Even in India the life and work of MK Gandhi is not looked at very closely, and his own views on economic life are ignored or mis-interpreted. For instance, Gandhi wrote about “economic trusteeship” being his view of how capitalism should operate. Today those few business leaders who have heard of that concept consider it means a paternalistic responsibility to employees and communities. Yet it does not – it demands accountability of those who control assets to those who are affected by that form of control. Otherwise, property rights should be revoked. It is therefore a concept of capital democracy. I develop this in the latest Lifeworth review of corporate responsibility, called Capitalism in Question. I quote from it:

“Indian independence leader, Mohandas K Gandhi, articulated a concept of ‘trusteeship’ in some of his writings. This arose from his view that everything is owned by everyone, and wealth is owned by those who generate it. Thus the one who controls an asset is not an owner but a trustee, being given control of that asset by society. Gandhi wrote “I am inviting those people who consider themselves as owners today to act as trustees, i.e., owners, not in their own right, but owners in the right of those whom they have exploited.”1 In the Harijan paper his views on trusteeship of property were later documented to clarify “It does not recognize any right of private ownership of property except so far as it may be permitted by society for its own welfare” and “under State-regulated trusteeship, an individual will not be free to hold or use his wealth for selfish satisfaction or in disregard of the interests of society.” He also wrote that “for the present owners of wealth… they will be allowed to retain the stewardship of their possessions and to use their talent, to increase the wealth, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of the nation and, therefore, without exploitation.”2 Gandhi did not develop these ideas further, as he had other preoccupations, such as generating economic self-sufficiency, inter-communal understanding, and the non-violent expulsion of the British Empire. The concept there remains to be developed and applied further.”

If people are now even confusing Nehru with Gandhi, perhaps it really is time for another look at some of the great leaders and thinkers of the past century, and what they might tell us about the future of our societies.

1Gandhi, M K. Gandhi’s Philosophy On Trusteeship, http://www.gandhi-manibhavan.org/gandhiphilosophy/philosophy_trusteeship.htm

2Gandhi, M K. (1946) Harijan, 31st March pg. 63-64. http://www.mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org/momgandhi/chap53.htm

Posted in Media, Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Final Annual Review from Lifeworth – challenging Capitalism!

Posted by jembendell on February 1, 2010

For the past 9 years I have written an annual review of the corporate responsibility field. In each review I have focused on what I thought were key trends, and sought to promote heartfelt and progressive engagement in this field. 2010 is the final year of my writing quarterly reviews in the leading Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Next year, therefore, I will produce a new edited book, with co-author Ian Doyle, that analyses the last 5 years. Then, Ill focus less on written commentary and more on implementing the ideas and insights from the past decade.  So, as this is the final annual review, I thought it important to encourage us all to use this time of post-crisis reflection to go deeper, and see how our work might relate to the kind of economic transformations we need for a fair and sustainable world. Hence, when I saw how many people are now debating fundamental elements of “capitalism” I thought it important to bring this to the fore. Because, as the World Economic Forum draws to a close in Davos, the real debate about the future of our economic systems is only getting started… in the real world of people’s communities and businesses. The press release for the new review follows below.

Post-crisis, Capitalism now a focus for CSR, says Lifeworth Review

Press Release from Lifeworth. February 1st 2009.

Capitalism is up for debate, and that’s a good thing, according to a new review from a management consultancy. “The dual financial and climate crises are leading people in all walks of life to question the kind of economy that makes sense for their businesses, communities and families,” explains lead author of the review, Associate Professor Jem Bendell. “As well as some anger at bankers, the financial crisis has led many to ask deeper questions about finance in general and, therefore, about capitalism. From bars to seminars, bookshops to board meetings, capitalism is being discussed – openly and critically,” he claims.

Entitled “Capitalism in Question”, the annual review describes how politicians and even business leaders are calling for more critical assessment of what kind of economic system we need for a fair and sustainable future. The review from Lifeworth Consulting summarises over a dozen books that have been published in the last weeks that debate the relative merits of capitalism and what form of economic governance is needed post-crisis, and in a new era of economic power. “The majority of these new books seek to do something that previously seemed neither necessary or interesting − to defend capitalism,” says John Stuart of Greenleaf Publishing, which supports the review.

Bendell explains that defensiveness wont help. Referring to the “Restoring Trust” report overseen by Allianz, Barclays Capital, Blackstone, and Carlyle Group, among others, he said “seeking to defend one’s immediate interests, as the banks writing the recent World Economic Forum report clearly did, is not how we are going to discover together the next step in our economic evolution. Fearful people in incumbent institutions may waste our time with diversionary drivel, but real exploration of the core issues is unavoidable. The question now is who should participate and how.”

Co-author of the review, Lifeworth Consulting’s Ian Doyle, explained that “much of the corporate social responsibility, or CSR agenda, has been predicated on a belief that government is constrained by global finance and can, or should, only intervene in markets to a limited extent. The giving of huge amounts of money to private banks may suggest that global finance is still dominant, but it also shows that sometimes when called on to act, most governments will intervene in markets in dramatic ways. So it’s not unreasonable for people to look to their governments to now shape responsible business practice more than before. And that is what we are seeing.”

The review is a call for people to become more involved in exploring how to evolve economic systems to promote fair and sustainable societies, says Bendell. “We are calling for this kind of engagement because after doing nine years of quarterly responsible business trends analysis for the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, we have concluded that there is a nascent social movement for the transformation of business and finance. Behind the jargon of corporate social responsibility, corporate accountability, environmental management, social enterprise, and responsible finance, are people like you and me who want to change the way business does business and the way money makes money. As such we need to think through what we are aiming for, longer term, and how we can work in concert. We all need to look up from our projects and shape the unfolding programme of economic transformation.”

To contribute to the debate, Lifeworth offers a framework for democratising capitalism. As Bendell, who is also Lifeworth’s director explains, “It’s simply that we need more governance of capital by people who are directly affected by its ownership and control. From that one concept flow many implications for tax, currencies, stocks, and all social and environmental regulations. This democratisation of capitalism could be the ultimate goal of the corporate responsibility movement, and the seeds of this approach are already to be found in the ideas and practices of many people working on corporate responsibility today.”

A discussion of economic systems can seem distant from the day-to-day preoccupations of most executives and the academics who seek to educate them, but as Bendell suggests, “making such connections will be important if the corporate responsibility movement is to have a substantial and lasting effect on commerce and society.” In ‘Capitalism in Question’ some initial guidance is given for how business leaders and educators can play a socially progressive role at this time. Specific multi-stakeholder initiatives are recommended.

The review of trends in corporate responsibility during 2009 includes analysis of government stimulus packages, responsible tax management, responsible mining, responsible cosmetics and beauty businesses, as well as particular trends in Asian and Francophone countries. It also explores the potential of ‘design thinking’ for sustainable business innovation, and provides in-depth analysis of the implications of the Copenhagen climate summit.

“Deep changes will be required in economic governance if we are to achieve a sustainable society… Capitalism will change, there is no doubt, and it must change so that it delivers both private wealth and public good” explains Professor Malcolm McIntosh of the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise. “As we enter a period of potential reconfiguration of economic governance, leaders of organisations will need to better understand the issues, actors and dynamics to be successful. Part of Griffith Business School in Australia, Professor McIntosh’s centre supported the free release of this review to promote creative thinking at a time of critical global challenges and because “the lead author Jem Bendell, is an important commentator on the world stage.”

Dr Bendell says there are important implications for management education. “In Griffith’s new “Graduate Certificate for Sustainable Enterprise” we help our students to navigate increasingly complex social and political contexts so they can find ways to prosper by being part of the solution.”

‘Capitalism in Question: The Lifeworth Annual Review of 2009’ is available in pdf for free download at http://www.lifeworth.com/consult/2010/02/annualreview/

Lifeworth’s responsible enterprise trends analysis during 2010 can be obtained by subscribing to the ‘Journal of Corporate Citizenship’. New subscribers to the journal before March 31st 2010 receive all 2009 copies for free. Visit http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com

Information on Griffith’s research centre and graduate certificate is available at http://www.asiapacificsustainableenterprise.com/

For media enquiries about ‘Capitalism in Question’ contact Jem Bendell via connect [at] lifeworth.com or +44(0)2071936102

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth, Reports, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Targets now vogue, for responsible enterprise

Posted by jembendell on February 14, 2008

I just launched the Lifeworth Annual Review at the League of Corporate Foundations in Manila. An interested and interesting group, who are beginning to explore the environmental dimension of their work, although basic issues of poverty and governance remain. Photo below.. looking a bit worse for wear having been up at 2am overseeing the upload of the website at http://www.lifeworth.com/2007review/default.htm

imgp0656.jpgimgp0653.jpg

This year the reviews are also available in print (see http://stores.lulu.com/lifeworth). Story follows below.
“Continuous Improvement not Enough, Targets now in Vogue for Corporate Responsibility, says Lifeworth review.”

14th February, 2008, Lifeworth, Geneva, Switzerland.

A wave of corporate announcements of environmental targets swept the world during 2007, says a review of the year published by a corporate responsibility consultancy.

Awareness of climate change drove this agenda, with many companies announcing specific targets as part of their membership of initiatives like The Climate Group, the Carbon Disclosure Project, or the WWF Climate Savers initiative. Reckitt Benckister, Cisco and Proctor and Gamble are praised in the review for adopting broader targets.

“Continuous improvement is no longer enough, with time-bound targets now in vogue for corporate responsibility” says report co-author Jem Bendell, a Director of Lifeworth, which publishes the annual reviews. “Targets express an awareness of the scale and urgency of an issue and a willingness to engage it. Although investing in new management processes are key, making a commitment to a performance target helps add the substance,” he added.

This, the seventh annual review, reports on a survey of corporate responsibility professionals which suggests progress is occuring, but not fast enough to meet the international community’s goals on either climate change or world poverty. The poll of Lifeworth’s 4000 newsletter subscribers found they thought that by about 2028 approximately 57% of global economic activity would be environmentally sustainable. If that rate continues then overall performance would be 78% by 2050. This means the corporate responsibility community, as represented by Lifeworth’s subscribers, think current rates of progress would create a sustainable economy by around 2070. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated the world needs to see over 50% reductions by 2050, and the latest science suggests an 80% cut by then to remain under a critical threshold of 2 degrees warming. That would mean at least a 20% reduction in the next 10 years, and given growing emissions from industrialization in the global South, possibly even double that reduction in industrialized countries to offset it. The review argues that a slower rate of change appears to be futile, and so achieving a sustainable economy by 2070 will not actually be possible.

The world community has also made a commitment to eliminate world poverty by 2025. To do so would require economic activity to be socially responsible. Professionals estimate that on current trends only about 50% of economic activity will be socially responsible by then. It will only be about 75% by 2050.

“The message from the Lifeworth Annual Review is that although CSR efforts are delivering some progress, it may not deliver the sustainable global economy in time and we need to explore ways of enabling faster and deeper change,” explained Professor Michael Powell, Dean of Griffith Business School, which supports the publication. “A global step change in progress towards a sustainable world economy is required, and this will involve more targets from companies on their social and environmental performance, as well as more collaboration on how to shift entire sectors and market systems so they reward firms in meeting those targets” explained Dr. Bendell.

The implication is“we need to speed up the dissemination of new ideas, make them more readily available and easily accessible” says Professor David Grayson, of Cranfield School of Management. “The Lifeworth Annual Review is one practical way of doing this. I am delighted that the new Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility has helped make this happen this year.”

The concept of a ‘global step change’ is proposed by the review, to both describe the leap in progress required and the importance of promoting sustainable consumption. The Review suggests that if everyone lived like Europeans, ecological footprint calculations suggest we would need three planets to support us, and that if everyone lived like the average Asian we would also need more than one planet. Indian middle classes now have a higher per capita consumption of carbon than the average Briton. The review, titled “The Global Step Change,” concludes it would be physically impossible for all the world’s poor to achieve higher wellbeing in ways as resource-intensive as the new middle classes in Asia and elsewhere. “Humanity’s challenge is to find ways to improve human wellbeing within the limits of the Earth’s resources; to stop living as if we have another planet to go to” explains Jem Bendell. For this, Professor Grayson adds, “we need a new mindset for Corporate Sustainability to stimulate innovation and create radically new business models.”

Professor Powell, said “The review shows that more and more executives are realizing the need to gear up their efforts on sustainable business, and governments also increasingly recognize the need for hard targets. Beating climate change requires a step change in commitment and action. As the first Australian business school to adopt the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education, Griffith Business School is committed to educating business professionals to understand the critical nature of this challenge.”

The review warns that the adoption of specific targets by companies is only the beginning. “We should remember that targets themselves are not the mechanisms of change. It appears that many countries will miss their Kyoto targets, and the first Millennium Development Goals on primary school education have already been missed” explains Dr Bendell. “The solution may be for wider coalitions of groups to apply themselves to the factors that shape our economy. To explore ways of collaborating to shift whole markets.”

To coincide with the publication of the review, Lifeworth is launching an online directory of corporate targets for social and environmental performance: http://www.responsibleenterprise.com

Lifeworth’s predictions for 2008 and beyond:
* Many more companies will announce time-bound environmental performance targets
* Some companies will announce time-bound social performance targets
* Some Asian-based multinationals will announce targets
* More Private Financial Institutions and NGOs will encourage time-bound targets from companies
* More networks and partnerships between companies and their stakeholders will focus on how to shape the market drivers that reward meeting such targets, including public policy, financial systems and consumer awareness.

The review is launched by Jem Bendell, at the League of Corporate Foundations in Manila, Philippines, on February 14th 2008, and by the co-sponsor Professor David Grayson, in a series of lectures and speeches from February 13th to 15th in Brussels and in Copenhagen, at the Belgium Business and Society Conference and the Copenhagen Business School.

This seventh annual review from Lifeworth incorporates quarterly reviews from the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, published by Greenleaf, and is sponsored by Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management, UK and Griffith Business School, Australia. All the annual reviews are available for ordering in hardcopy from Lifeworth (http://stores.lulu.com/lifeworth), as well as being free to download or browse online at http://www.lifeworth.com

For press enquiries, contact lead author Jem Bendell at +44(0)2071936102, or jb at lifeworth.com


				

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