On the first ever International Happiness Day, MeWise was in the Kingdom of Bhutan – the land where Gross National Happiness (GNH) is valued above gross domestic product (GDP). In Bhutan the 20th March was declared a public holiday, and all planned commercial activities had to be cancelled or postponed so that all citizens could spend the day with their loved ones and be happy. Because according to His Majesty the Fifth King, in Bhutan, happiness is more important than profit!
MeWise was conducting a consultancy project for the Bhutan National Legal Institute during February and March 2013, and as a result had the opportunity to create a unique model of mediation to reflect Bhutan’s spiritual, cultural and GNH values, and a plan to institutionalise Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) throughout the country. In this picture I am with the lawyers and Judges I trained in both ADR and teaching skills, to ensure that the project would be sustainable into the future. We are all wearing Bhutanese National dress which is the Kira for women and the Gho for men. My height and the length of my arms were a definite challenge for the poor tailor, who was concerned that the roll of material would not be long enough.
Five reasons why MeWise is a smart CSR strategy for you…
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) also called corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, social performance, or sustainable responsible business is here to stay. CSR goes beyond compliance and focuses on ‘social good’ demonstrating a company’s willingness to not only take responsibility for its actions, but to make a positive impact on its consumers, employees, local community and other public stakeholders who may be affected by its activities.
A CSR strategy which focusses on empowering your own people as well as your community stakeholders, delivers results in five key ways:
1. Social License
Local conditions, needs, and customs vary considerably and are often opaque, but can have a significant impact on your success in building social capital and trust. Regional and cultural differences demand a flexible and responsive approach and must be understood early in order to enable the development and implementation of effective strategies to earn and maintain social license.
Strengthening your organization’s capacity for effective cross-cultural communication, engagement, and collaboration will not only enhance efficiency, it will enhance your relationships with local communities, your reputation within them, and your ability to operate successfully and sustainably in a global market. For large corporates, investing in the development of those same skills within your local communities as part of your CSR strategy will further enhance the prospects of effectively communicating with your local stakeholders and finding collaborative solutions to potential conflicts early.
2. Triple bottom line
A socially conscious consumer public is insisting that People Planet Profit (the triple bottom line) is observed in every aspect of the corporate world. As the People component requires fair and beneficial business practices towards labour and the communities within which a corporation conducts its business, empowering those communities to engage in collaborative, interest based dispute resolution processes to facilitate better communication makes sense.
MeWise not only delivers value for the organization (shareholders) and the local community (stakeholders), as a social enterprise business itself it also delivers the flow on benefit of simultaneously supporting other important peace building activities in the developing world.
3. Human resources
A CSR program in negotiation and mediation skills can be an aid to recruitment and retention, particularly within the competitive graduate student market. Potential recruits often ask about a firm’s CSR policy during interview, and having a program focused on collaborative problem solving both within the organization and for your stakeholders can give a distinct advantage both in the market and among your own staff. This positive CSR story also empowers your frontline employees in their customer engagement and marketing.
4. Risk management
Managing risk is a central part of most corporate strategies. Reputations that take decades and millions of marketing dollars to establish can be ruined in hours through the poor management of conflict. These can also draw unwanted attention from regulators, courts, governments and media. Building a genuine culture of effective communication and collaborative problem solving within a corporation can offset these risks.
5. Brand differentiation
In crowded marketplaces, companies strive for a unique selling proposition that can separate them from the competition in the minds of consumers. Your association with MeWise and its social enterprise activities will not only deliver business value through the personal development of your staff, it will give a strong message about your broader commitment to distinctive ethical values.