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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

Let me say out front, that I am very concerned about the potential self-serving nature of self-regulation. Financial regulation in the US has degraded until it amounts to almost the same thing. So I came to this meeting with a somewhat jaundiced attitude. I was pleasantly surprised. So far…

We had quite a large group on November 4, a US presidential election day here in Washington, DC. It was a full large conference room at CGAP (consultative group to assist the poorest) headquarters. Imp-Act had gathered about 40 or so movers and shakers in Investment, Philanthropy, Technical Assistance, and Reporting, there were also some Intermediaries and Large MFI groups in attendance as well as a few consultants, like. Anita Campion, President of AZMJ, LLC. Participants came from around the globe Katrazina Pawlak, Deputy Director for The Microfinance Center of Central and Eastern Europe, Jack Caramona, Program Manager for Catholic Relief Services from Lima, Peru, Alex Pollock, a Director UNRWA and a member of the board of SENABLE, and Kakmo Pideu of The Solid Fund MFI all the way from Kenya. A more diverse mix of organizations, personalities and interests would be hard to find.

Defining SPM is a process of some significant complexity. Imp-Act intends to achieve consensus on the concept, design, and fabrication of a practical effective social performance methodology. Then to have it approved and voluntarily adapted by a skeptical MFI community. This is also to be accomplished in an atmosphere of financial instability with global financial markets reeling and realigning themselves concurrently. …Not an easy task.

It is important to note that Imp-Act is not an enforcement body. Imp-Act is a policy level organization. its job is to help create an SPM model through organizations like SEEP, CGAP, The MIX etc and to achieve some form of consensus on the issues, principles and strategies to be employed is achieving an effective Social Performance Management focus among the current profusion of MFI’s. Even though this was noted in the pre conference documents, the attendees (me included) wanted to go directly to the strategic and tactical issues. We wanted operational answers. It took the facilitators nearly half the day to get this issue off the table and get some serious policy issues identified.

A good example was the attempt to get agreement on a set of guiding principles. There was a good deal of creative tension in the room. This was not a group of sycophants. Everyone had an opinion and few shy about expressing them. My concern, along with some others, was moving from planning and conceptualizing to execution. This is at least the second international meeting and we are still at the “guiding principles” stage. I do not see that path before us. A map of the Im-Act process itself would be very helpful (hint)

Although a promising beginning to the process, and. Although an excellent team has been assembled and a number of potentially effective sub committees formed, planning is more comfortable than action and the instinct to avoid the conflict of decision making is very strong, however that time is drawing closer. A follow on meeting for finalization acceptance of the guiding principles and the definition of a path forward is to be scheduled soon. The DC meeting set that agenda. I am waiting to see the outcome. Stay tuned, more to come…

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Hi Jerry, well done on reporting this important meeting of like minds. Although uncomfortable for those involved obviously, with everyone bringing their opinions to the table, it seems that true progress was made. Many of these groups you met with would certainly be useful to dialog with on the topic of Phoenix Voyage, and our vision of collective, collaborative de-velopment in many nations, in common cause. -- Please, keep Kerrie and I posted on your progress in further meetings, great job. --- Greg O'Neill

I am curious, at any stage was the measurement of social performance discussed?

What, if any, was the general consensus about the concept of Triple Bottom Line reporting as a means of measuring the social performance of organizations?
Hi Andrew...

Measurement has been the focus of discussion for several years now and the community has a profusion of measures. In fact there are too many at this point and all of them, or shall I say none of them ... validated. One of the problems and thereason for the Imp-act consortium, is that there are too many organizations and authorities trying to do this individually. So, to answer your question, go online to the Imp-Act site and you can read all aobut it... but, no this was a process meeting to determine "principles," and high level direction. Meassures were not discussed at this point.

you can learn more here...

Good luck

Second issue... triple bottom line. Well, there has been a double lbottom line ... some people think that the environment issue not relevant to the poor... but that is changing.
An interesting conversation about triple bottom line and it's reality and definition is on a site I hope you all will contribute to - especially where communicating CSR is concerned.

I have not been in CSR a very long time, but I had fully bought into the TBL notion, until @ethicsblogger posted a different view and now a colleague of mine has further evaluated his perspective and honestly opened my mind beyond this concept.

SR LINK is the site's name.


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