Posts Tagged ‘CSR’

The great business thinker Milton Friedman once said “the business of business is business”. Perhaps at the time this was true but I must admit that this idea has never sat comfortably with me. In fact, I positively disagree with it – with a passion. Business, businesspeople and business education have the most phenomenal power to impact positive change in the world. Business school equips students with skills and knowledge to act as global citizens, charged to support those less fortunate. In my opinion, “the business of business is responsibility”. I refer to responsibility in all its facets. Responsibility to drive stakeholder value, to ensure good customer experience, to protect consumer rights and to deal responsibly with both employees and clients. But the responsibility of good business extends further – to use our skills and experience to support those in society that require assistance; whether this be through giving time, financial assistance or guidance. CEO of cloud computing giant SalesForce, Mark Benioff, devised the 1:1:1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. The model is a commitment to contribute 1% of equity, 1% of employee hours and 1% of product back to the community it serves and has now been adopted by over 700 companies worldwide. During my Silicon Valley GIFT with LBS, I was privileged to see the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in South San Francisco; a world-class medical facility that not only treats thousands of sick children each year but is committed to improving children’s health worldwide. The project is a testament to Benioff’s commitment to philanthropy, CSR and the ‘business of responsibility’.

As a business school student from a non-profit background, creating impact has always been of the utmost importance to me. Following my time with the LBS in California, I took the opportunity to connect with a NY-based child health charitable foundation. Together with a team of counsellors and medical personnel, we brought 50 children suffering from cancer to Orlando for a week of fun and respite. Many of these children have interrupted intense chemotherapy sessions and prolonged hospital stays (think 6months plus), at the approval of their physicians, to spend a few days relaxing on rollercoasters and eating ice-cream in Florida’s winter sun. Most of these children are bald, many are wheelchair-bound and several are constantly wired to medical machinery and monitors. Imagine, therefore, people’s surprise as they watched us scream our way through roller-coaster rides and dance alongside characters at the Disney parades. Days were spent zooming around The Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld and the Universal Studio Parks. Nights were spent sleepless – administering drugs, prepping gastric tubes and dealing with medical complications. Armed with open-access trips to ToysRUs, skip-the-queue passes at all amusement parks and fireworks displays galore, the trip of a lifetime was had by all and unbridled happiness permeated the entire experience. Although fun and laughter hasn’t yet been scientifically-proven to cure cancer, there is no doubt that all the kids returned home with a fresh hope, renewed smiles and greater strength to battle and overcome their challenges. Many of our kids are already back in hospitals across the US undergoing treatment – I wish them all well and a New Year filled with only much happiness and good health!

The London Business School is committed to “changing the way the world does business” and an integral facet of this pledge is to positively impact society. LBS’ trifecta: The Volunteers Club, Net Impact Club and Impact Consulting Club offer some of our best talent to the community; giving guidance, time and resources to support local non-profits and social enterprises. It is something about which our school community is incredibly proud and for many students, involvement in these clubs is the start of a lifelong pursuit in driving impact from operations to the boardroom, and a commitment to solving communal and global challenges. LBS is a school committed to holistic business education – an institution that creates leaders who solve problems using their minds as well as their hearts.

Wishing all our readers – students, potential students, alums and supporters – a very happy and successful 2017!

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A happiness formula

Posted by: Gonzalo

Five weekends done of the first term. A number of assignments need to be submitted, time is getting tight, the social committee is planning a trip to Winter Wonderland, and Movember is visible in the classroom. Good times. I arrived at the concept for this post via two different situations. First, in the last session of the CSR/ethics module our spirited lecturer brought a guest speaker to class. He is an alumnus of the school who has set up a business that partners with the NHS to provide heart related services (RPHC). Beyond being impressed by the idea of his business I was reminded that I have a mild heart problem that has drastically changed the way I approach my day-to-day life since it started in 2008. Second, last Monday I was back in St. Barts Hospital to get an echocardiogram to track my progress. It is always humbling to switch from student to object of study as a nurse was discussing the structures of my heart with an apprentice technician. The sound of the machine is quite relaxing though, sort of watery, so I normally have a short nap while being assessed. Without a doubt, birth and death are the flip sides of the same coin, however, probably not standard in this day and age to spend much time thinking about it at the age of 25.

Anyway, as part of the reading for the last CSR session a happiness formula was proposed by Lyubomirksy et al to be the sum of:

S – a biological set point
C – the conditions of your life, and
V – the voluntary activities you do.

With regards to S, I will only say that I am certainly not the happiest person around by any yardstick. I am confident that my seat-mates in the class, my study group, or my colleagues could confirm that I am a bit grouchy.

I will focus my account of the C’s with two of its elements. On the one hand, I experience lack of control related to my heart condition which flares up in the most unexpected situations and reminds me that I need to be prudent. On the other hand, as I grew up and moved out of Peru, my circle of friends has contracted and now I keep in touch with a few meaningful individuals who I might not see all the time but who with I have a tight bond. With regards to my family I mostly communicate with my parents by Skype and my brother by email but I am probably closer with them now than when I lived in Peru with them. Finally, my girlfriend and I have settled down into our flat and I guess we have a blissful existence. No arguments, plenty of cooking and conversation, and a degree of faith that some things just work. Therefore, the other C that really resonates with me is relationships. In a way, the slowing down that resulted from my lack of control, has resulted in a positive change in my relationships, and an overall enhancement of the C-value of my formula. The adaptation principle in action.

What about the V’s though? I have just written an email advocating “process” KPIs instead of measuring outcomes. Some people might wonder if there is time for V’s during an EMBA, but surely V’s can help assess the quality of this whole process. I argue that there is always time and posit three examples of my own. Isn’t it annoying when someone says they are too busy to do something? I actively choose not to be in that group. First, I have decided that over the next 2 years I will teach myself basic Brazilian Portuguese. How? I will start with Duolingo. Come on, just do it, I try to take a lesson before starting to work, one at lunch, and two the evening. Why? Because in the future I want to work with Latin America and if you research why duolingo exists you might just want to join. Os meninos bebem leite! Os estudantes gostam de London! Second, I am trying to read a non-MBA book a month. Why? Because I think that literature allows us to expand our range of experience. When? Before bed, in the train, after lunch on the weekends, bit by bit. Third, I am going to volunteer for EnglishPEN. Why? Because I think what they stand for matters after growing up in Peru. When? Whenever they reply to my emails asking for further information….

We seem to live in a time of communal paralysis. Everyone wants to “do” but no one “does” in the belief that someone else will. I am looking forward to the last session of Managerial Economics so I can conceptualise this in terms of game theory. To conclude, I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t have embarked on the V’s had my C’s not changed back in 2008 and had I not opted to join the EMBA programme.

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Aiming higher

Posted by: Gudrun

I am currently sitting in an airplane which brings me from Munich to London for an elective. While I should be a good girl and do the readings for the upcoming course, I instead took to my PC to issue some random musings on business. To be more concise, some musings on the responsibility of business. I am currently working with a company on improving the relationships of their salesforce with retailers. Having watched over the past days – I hate to say it – shark-like sales guys honing in on mom-and-pop stores and pushing sales, I was moved to muse about the responsibility of business (and trust me, I am not often inclined towards such inner musings).

It is incredible how often companies underestimate the need to invest in people and relationships. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in employees, in partners, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. Coming out of a recession and being faced with a disastrous situation in Japan – of which we don’t know yet the impact on the global economy – the argument and opportunity for companies to invest has never been more compelling. In addition, if you check out the research of our Marketing professor Nirmalya Kumar, you will see that trust relationship are also worthwhile in financial terms. I am hoping that each single LBS student when faced with a similar situation would find it in himself and herself to stand up and take a stance. Guys, it’s not about being part of a group, it’s about being a pace-setter. You do have a responsibility as managers, and you should be aware of it.

Which brings me back to my client: I had a row of meetings with their executives this past Friday, discussing how and at what time starting to introduce a mindset change. They recognized that the one-way relationships they have hurt their sales and hurt their dealer network. This will cost them a lot, though. We will need to go in there and reform the values, incentives, bonuses, and overall thinking of their salesforce. I do firmly believe that the effort will be worth their while at the end of the tunnel. But, LBS community, I would implore you to always aim higher, defy group thinking if necessary, and do what’s right (but make sure that it will make money – we are not stupid, after all).

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