Inspiration from the Net Impact 2014 Conference

I recently attended the Net Impact 2014 Conference in Minneapolis, MN and thought I would share some of the ideas and debates from the event that inspired me. The conference was full of positive, proactive energy and provided some interesting lessons for the world’s next group of sustainability leaders.

Firstly, if you have not listened to Dan Pallotta’s TED talk about the way we think about charity, I highly recommend it. He spoke at the conference on this same topic and received a very positive response from the conference attendees.

Pallotta provides some very thought provoking statistics and arguments about how our perceptions of charity often defy logic. (One excerpt: “You want to make 50 million dollars selling violent video games to kids, go for it. We’ll put you on the cover of Wired magazine. But you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids of malaria, and you’re considered a parasite yourself.”) He also discusses how these beliefs about charity are impeding our ability to make effective change in the sector.

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Purpose, Values, and Action: Corporate Responsibility in SMEs

Multinational Corporations have been at the center of the discussion surrounding corporate responsibility.  This has occurred for two main reasons:

1. Multinationals have received a significant amount of “bad press” in recent years – from oil spills, to child labor scandals, to world financial meltdowns – pressuring them to “shape up”

2. Multinationals maintain significant power and influence over the global economy, providing “quick, meaningful wins” for environmental and social activists when they decide to “do better”.

Large multinational companies have the power to make a significant, individual impact in improving the conditions of communities and promoting environmental preservation. Although Large Enterprises (with 500 employees or more) totaled only 2% of companies that exported products in 2010 in the US, they accounted for 68% of the total value of exports – making them very powerful in terms of the amount of resources and products they manage.

However, we must not ignore the achievements of America’s Small and Medium Enterprises.

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Risk and Opportunity Management for Corporate Social Responsibility

Recently, we have been discussing the theory and importance of Risk Management in project planning and management. In order to manage risks in a project, there are several tools used to plan for all possible negative impacts on a project. Project managers fill out several charts, analyzing the likelihood, severity, impacts, warning signs for each possible risk. They construct a specific budget for necessary preventative measures and possible contingency plans required to mitigate these risks.

In Risk Management, some big questions have to be answered: whats the likelihood of this risk happening?  And how much (money, time, resources, etc) is it going to cost me?


Typical Tool Used in Risk Management

One interesting topic discussed was the recent emergence of opportunity management as a core strategy to help design a project. The conversation got me to thinking about the utility of managing your opportunities. Incorporating opportunity management in projects, specifically, in the analysis of Corporate Responsibility projects, could have a large positive impact in helping to change popular opinion surrounding the topic.

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