I was born in Africa, South Africa. I lived there and worked there for most of my life. I have been an African development worker, an Oxfam campaigner, an activist, a trade unionist, a WTO trade negotiator, a businessman running my own businesses in southern Africa, a founder of non-profits and campaigns to bring Africa to the forefront of action, and a developmental economist working on the role of business in development.
And now? Now I work at Edelman as Senior Vice President doing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability work – helping companies develop CSR and Sustainability strategies that will hopefully help them be more effective in both what they do and what they say. And ensure that both people and the planet benefit from having these companies around. Yep, both the doing and talking part. Making sure they do the right thing and say it in a way that is authentic and backed up by facts. And that we all benefit from all this work. No spin.
My definition of CSR? First rule – keep it simple: “Managing the impact an organization has on society and the environment, and how they communicate that impact.” And Sustainability? “Managing the impact to leave the world in a better, or no worse, place for future generations.” Simple. We have serious problems if we have to explain definitions. Yes there are other concepts, ideas and rules – like mutual responsibility or shared value – but we’ll leave that for discussion in the blog itself.
Why is this relevant? Just a little… I approach things from a different angle because of my past – as we all do. And because of my connection to Africa. I am because we are – Ubuntu. That’s why I work the way I work.
I’m still an activist. I want change. Real change. Something that will be sustainable for everyone involved – the company and the worker and/or farmer on the ground. Everyone must benefit. Everyone can benefit. That’s why I do what I do. You don’t ask me to work with a company who don’t want change. It doesn’t work that way. And I’m damn lucky to work for a company who believes in these values as well.
But there is a lot of nonsense and confusion out there. People making claims they shouldn’t be making. Companies and activists. Doing things they shouldn’t be doing. My job? To point these out and poke around a bit. Find the angle and dig deeper until we get as close as we can to the truth and real change. Lift the fog of perceptions a bit. Poke, dig and poke some more. Shoot down some “universal truths” on the sustainability highway.
I hope you enjoy it. Let’s try to find some new angles and a few truths. Let’s see where it takes us.
I hope to keep it fun. We believe in fun – laughing at ourselves and always smiling at what life throws at us. It would be great if you could learn something. But you don’t have to – just have fun.
Oh, before I forget. English is not my first language – so please excuse the many mistakes that will litter my blog.
One last thing… I WILL tell you when I think there is a conflict of interest. If I’ve worked with a company before or I am working with them right now – I’ll let you know. It won’t be the whole truth if I don’t. And please fell free to question me and my thoughts. It’s just my angle, right?
Note: This blog is mine and the opinions mine. It does not reflect the views of Edelman or anyone I work with. It’s personal. Like CSR and Sustainability…