Sunday, June 03, 2007

Listen to a good interview about...a lot!

(Via Paul) I listened to an interesting interview with Tim Smit, the founder of the Eden Project, on BBC's In Business (May 31, 2007). I appreciated this part (about 16:50) of the interview:
Peter Day: You think social entrepreneurs are thinking too small, don't you? This is a new or fairly new movement which has enormous possibilities.

Tim Smit: I think it's a new movement, but I think it's also a new philosophy of business and it irritates me that we define people as being social entrepreneurs when in fact our ambition should be to make all entrepreneurial activity social. The only distinction I can see between social entrepreneurship and ordinary entrepreneurship is the ultimate disposal of the surplus of profits and of course the philosophy behind the protocols of its management. But if you had a business...that was ethically sourcing its products; that was making a light a footprint as it could; that was treating its people well; that was trying to create products of social benefit or joy; after it had achieved all those things, I don't really care what it does with its surpluses or its profits.

More on the definitions follows. He cuts through some of the language that frustrates me.

He has some interesting rules he uses:
* Say good morning to 20 people before you start work.
* Read two books a year that people who know you think are outside your interest and review them for your colleagues. (A mid-year resolution, I think!)
* Make a speech once a year about why you like your work.
* You have to prepare a meal for 40 people you like working with. (Done because major decisions are made at night; "...the influences you bring to bear on your decision are wider than more narrow confines of what you might do if you just had your work hat on.")

Let's have a dinner party!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Making Money, Making a Difference?

Thanks to the Private Sector for Development blog, I read these four cases of "sustainability" about Coca Cola, McDonalds, Proctor & Gamble and General Electric. In case you hadn't noticed, they are Making Money, Making a Difference, according to the Motley Fool.

OK, P&G and GE I can read without feeling like my feathers are too ruffled. But McDonalds and Coke? I just couldn't swallow this easily. I did have to ponder: what do we do when McDonalds works with Conservation International to decrease their un-sustainable whitefish consumption from 50,000 to 32,000 tons? I suppose we do need to praise Coke for trying to support education, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, but shouldn't their corporate responsibility work address obesity and rotten teeth, the actual externalities of their sugar infused products?

Would you like a super size fillet-o-fish (see link for content of sandwich) and coke while you ponder that sustainability report? Too much damage was done with Super Size Me to let me buy this corporate hand washing, even if done with P&G's soap that is supporting hygiene at the Bottom of the Pyramid.