COP15 was a fiasco.
At the eleventh hour, the world’s governments cobbled together a half‑baked “accord”, after 2 weeks of posturing, grandstanding and generally faffing about.
Why bother? At the next summit, they’ll realise they’ve got no hope of meeting the target, however vague, so they’ll try to weasel out of the agreement just like they weaseled out of Kyoto.
The fact is: Governments can’t govern very well. All they really can do is tax. And do we want a bunch of taxmen managing our environment?
No – I see real environmental management in the hands of corporations and individuals.
These days, every company has an environmental policy.
However, it’s just a collection of words.
To be a good corporate citizen, the firm must use that policy to inform action.
And that’s typically where the wheels fall off.
Education is the key
The foundation of corporate citizenship is education. If the L&D team (and others) aren’t active in this space, then there’s a disconnect between what the company allegedly stands for and what it manifestly stands for.
I happen to believe that the company I work for is indeed a good corporate citizen.
Regardless of your political and philosophical views of climate change, I’m sure we all agree that the relentless destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest is an unmitigated disaster.
Given the socio-economic dimensions of the problem, the Indonesian government is simply incapable of governing it.
Action makes the difference
Now that my colleagues and I have watched the film, we’ve heard Dorjee talk and our awareness has been raised a few thousand notches, what can we actually do about it?
For a start, I suggest we ignore the Copenhagen Clowns.
As a financial services company, something we already do is offer Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) options to our customers. These options typically embargo investments in the likes of arms dealers and tobacco manufacturers; dare I suggest that palm oilers should also be on the blacklist?
It’s also important to keep in mind that a corporation is a collection of individuals. Not only could we select SRI options in our own investment plans, but we could make the personal decision to donate to a relevant charity. In this case we chose Borneo Orangutan Survival, and the corporation dollar-matched our individual contributions.
I’m sure there’s hundreds of other things we could do, both as corporations and as individuals. And yet more could be done in other industry sectors. All we need is some imagination.
The thin green line
In essence, corporate citizenship is a political concept. So we must be wary of straying into partisanship.
For example, I would be uncomfortable with screening Obama’s speeches as an L&D activity. (If you disagree, how would you feel if I screened Bush’s speeches instead?)
None-the-less, corporate citizenship transcends partisanship. The world has plenty of massive problems that we all acknowledge, regardless of our political persuasions.
As L&D professionals in socially responsible corporations, we arguably have a duty to raise our colleagues’ awareness of the issues that matter, then translate that knowledge into something practical.
In doing so, we must avoid ATNA at all costs.
Otherwise it’s just noise pollution.