Responsibility & Sustainability
One Goal Many Perspectives
dimensions to focus and simplify the action points. However, the reality is that there are many areas where the environment, the community and the organization overlap each other – many a times, when you ignore the interaction between these dimensions, you get totally divergent opinions. And the point of view related to your own history, geography and experiences further colour the opinion. The individual – ‘I’ – as a citizen, as a corporate manager, as a parent of future generations, or in any other role, is at the overlap of all three external dimensions. That should tell us something about where the action needs to be initiated.
Here is a suggested list to start with, which we can use to try out thought–experiments, viewing each issue in different dimensions and from different points of view (for example, buyer based in a developed market, supplier based in a developing country, an individual working in the supply chain, his family and broader community): • child/family labour • fair pricing and fair compensation across the supply chain, including consumer, retailer, supplier and workers • replacement of cottage-scale production with large-scale industrial production of goods setting up production in cities versus in villages • organic versus inorganic synthetic/genetically modified versus natural raw materials In closing, let me come back to ‘Babel’. According to the Book of Genesis, a huge tower was built ‘to the heavens’ to demonstrate the achievement of the people of Babylon who all spoke a single language, and to bind them together into a common identity. God apparently was not particularly happy with this self-glorifying attitude, and gave the people different languages and scattered them across the earth.
Whatever your religious (or non-religious) affiliation, this story holds a gem of a lesson. No matter how noble the cause of the corporate responsibility warrior, it is good to be humble and allow diversity rather than trying to capture everyone under one monolith with an apparently common goal. The diversity may be a lot more productive and help to spread the benefits wider than one single initiative.
The day that we spent on the sustainability roundtable certainly demonstrated that very well.