Had a busy week with two days at the Responsible Business Summit in London. What struck me was the appetite for sustainability in the corporate world. I spoke to senior figures from multinationals who knew wholeheartedly that businesses in the future would not succeed if the society around them failed.
Much of this appetite was understandably focused on collaboration - the future of sustainability. Words that were previously indicative of success - power, might, scale, size - are no longer enough in the open source, peer-reviewed future where opponents will not simply grumble and moan and then leave you in peace. Companies must work with governments, NGOs, charities and social enterprises as a matter of course. And even competitors, where necessary.
Facilitating this collaboration is the big challenge of the next five years. Highly-strung and ego-centric companies, feverish with the need to protect their brand, will struggle the most, but it's either adapt or die.
The business/charity relationship is one of the most interesting focal points. Business power can drive positive social change in so many ways but charities are the key holders to communities. As businesses are expected more and more to play a stake in the future, charity partnerships should be top of the corporate priority list. Businesses that don't work closely with a charity will find themselves with reputational problems.
There's a lot more to CSR, of course, but collaboration is the bedding on which CSR will rest. Businesses can no longer find the answers to all their problems in their own resources and assets.
And for many that's a scary thought.
Any thoughts, thoughts or questions, drop me a line on email@example.com.