Why My Big Jar of Honey is So Small – The What/Who/How Principles of Social Measurement: A Message from the Chair

By Dr. Wanda Lopuch, Ph.D., MDA Associates; Global Sourcing Council Chairperson

Why is my big jar of honey so small? My favorite philosopher and the measurement expert-in-residence Winnie-the-Pooh poses his existential question while patting his soft belly.

Why is our talent development program, which so dramatically improves opportunities for our employees and their families, gained so little acceptance? – a frustrated manager of an innovative program raises concern to her team.

In my January address in The Source, I submitted to the GSC community, that we make 2014 a year to bring evidence-based measurement to the center stage of social responsibility and global citizenship.  That way we can present strong evidence-based business cases for programs that empower communities, or programs that enhance quality of work of employees, or programs that foster innovation among vendors for socially responsible products and services.  We need to develop a measurement framework which will enable us to distinguish between good investment and questionable investment.  I have also argued for balanced score cards, or BSC-like tools for socially responsible initiatives, so as per Winnie-the-Pooh’s mantra we will know where we are going and if we are there yet.

Seemingly simple, yet so little progress has been made in implementing social measurement matrices into the core of business enterprises.  There are reasons for that: when it comes to measurement there are challenging questions to be addressed.  Let’s explore.

In the first week of February, I had an opportunity to participate in the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWGonSGD).  Any goals come with accountability, and accountability does not exist without measurement.  Measurement of social processes was discussed at the UN OWGonSGD in great detail.  The principles of measurement are universal.  They apply equally to the UN monumental task of setting up Global Sustainable Development Goals for the 21st Century (we will learn more about this task in this edition of The Source), as to global sourcing professionals setting up balanced score cards for their network of global partners and suppliers, or to Winnie-the-Pooh’s measurement question of why is the big jar of honey so small?

During the February 5th UN OWSonSGD meeting,  Professor Gita Sen from DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era) brilliantly outlined these universal measurement and accountability principles in a simple 3-question format: WHAT? WHO? and HOW?

  1. WHAT is being measured: evidence-based content.
  2. WHO measures: governance of measurement process.
  3. HOW it is measured: budget and resource allocations.

These seemingly simple questions bring the complexity of social measurement challenges into focus when they are tackled together.

        1.  WHAT – or the content, is the cornerstone of the accountability process. 

My measurement expert-in-residence Winnie-the-Pooh, needs to make decisions regarding WHAT he is to measure:  the size of the honey jar or the amount of honey in the jar, or perhaps the taste and smell of honey – a quality of labor of  Maya-the-Bee and other hard-working laborers. 

The manager of a regional vendor supply chain needs to make a decision if she wants to track the amount of product applications submitted by vendors or a type of a vendor, or the innovative features of submitted products, or perhaps suggested pricing.

The sourcing professional, evaluating performance of a potential partner needs to make a decision if he will track personnel absenteeism or turnover within a partner enterprise, or hourly wages, or level of education, or hours employees are spending on non-project related tasks, such as community work or enhancing education.

        2.  WHO – or the governance of the measurement process. 

I suspect that my measurement expert-in-residence Winnie-the-Pooh may insist on doing the measurement by himself, and using his big tummy as “an objective measurement stick” to measure either the size of the honey jar or the amount of honey in the jar.

A manager of a vendor supply chain needs to make a decision, what data is to be self-reported by vendors and what information she or he is to collect through  internal systems.   Both methods have different “trust levels” and costs associated with such data collection.  The decision regarding: WHO, is strongly connected to the third principle: HOW– or budget.

        3.  HOW – or budgetary allocations required to support accountability goals.

According to Prof. Gita Sen, if there is no budget allocated to support the measurement process, there is no true accountability for goals.  This strong statement resonated with the audience.  I am certain that it also resonates with those who are responsible for the balanced score cards and who understand that setting goals may be half of the battle. Getting a realistic picture of the baseline and progression of the goals, however, takes real time and real resources. Which in budget terms translates into money.

Adopting measurement-based frameworks, such as WHAT/WHO/HOW,  to evaluate the social impact of business enterprises is a natural next step in implementing evidence-based decision-making systems that will enhance business processes in commercial, academia and non-profit enterprises alike.  It will even bring closure to the dilemma of my measurement expert-in-residence: why the big jar of honey is so small.

Implementing such frameworks is neither easy nor straightforward.  But, the progress takes place.  To contribute to that, we encourage you to share your experiences regarding the WHAT, WHO and HOW parts of the equation of measuring social impact.  Contribute your insight with other community members so we can share knowledge, learn from one another and build our skills in implementing measurement based programs.  Please submit your comments to editor@gscouncil.org, we will share your views with the community.

Editor’s Note: Standards Matter

The enduring quality of all endeavors relies, in part, on tangible actions and behaviors. To name a few: the application and adherence to ethics, principles, discipline, inventiveness, meeting unmet needs, positively impacting communities and improving social conditions.

At the GSC, we are dedicated to the advancement of Sustainable and Socially Responsible Sourcing. Through this digital publication as well as our companion media channels – discussion forums, conferences and symposia, web meetings, and social media we are committed to raising the level of knowledge-sharing and debate to effect changes on how sourcing business is done.

Successful socially responsible sourcing necessitates developing a global awareness, acceptance and adoption of standard frameworks for RFP’s, SLA’s and other contractual agreements. How this is adopted regionally and locally will depend on many factors. The reality, however, is incontrovertible. Standards set by third parties that define baseline metrics, ratings, and other measurements for Accountability, Transparency and Performance is a “must-have” in order to create meaningful change for the betterment of communities that is built to last.

Sustaining a meaningful dialogue towards that goal is the objective of The Source. Since its inception this newsletter has begun to amplify ways to define and improve the social role of business. We owe much to our outgoing Editor, Diana d’Ambra, for her stewardship and dedication to this mission.

Going forward The Source team and I will be focused on developing a more robust forum incorporating views from trading partners, policymakers, companies, not-for-profits and vested-businesses. Building social benefits on top of commercial profits requires inclusion, honest and respectful communication, and collaborative problem-solving amongst all stakeholders.

We welcome contributors to this discourse. Please share your insight and opinions at contactGSC@gscouncil.org, or contact me directly at jodeen@gscouncil.org.

JoDeen Urban
Editor In Chief

JoDeen is an independent management consultant working with established companies as well as start-ups on strategy, organizational capability and business model innovation.

Global Sourcing – Impacts on Socio-Economics of Developing Countries

By: Bobby Varanasi, COP, Chairman & CEO, Matryzel Consulting Inc.; Asia Ambassador – International Association of Outsourcing Professionals

Increasing pressure on Boards to defer or reduce capital expenditure, coupled by a lack of internal capabilities is pushing organizations to farm out complex and core services to third-party service providers. Sourcing methods are increasingly incorporating core services as inherent targets for sourcing, with the caveat that service providers need to take on more risks than they are either ready to, or have the experience with. Do such risk-sharing approaches align with national imperatives of provider nations?

Standard fee-for-service based business models are increasingly being seen as low value resulting in the demand that service providers put their “skin-in-the-game” through price entrenchment and ownership for the pass-through impact of such services. This is an inherently fundamental shift in the nature of global sourcing. While it is appreciable that customers are beginning to trust their global service providers more than they have done so before, it is also putting increased responsibility on service providers as they are taking on more business risk than ever. The focus on co-creation of solutions is putting the pressure on providers to transform the view of their businesses.

THE DAYS OF “VALUE-SCALE” HAVE ARRIVED AND ARE HERE TO STAY

While access to skills and talent has been touted for long in the industry, cost arbitrage still held the highest attention and focus in the minds of customers. It looks like the death of the mile-wide inch-deep outsourcing deals. Too many times has scale been touted as the biggest lever for winning in a fiercely competitive marketplace.  Not too much emphasis was placed on depth of capabilities. I think the days of “value-scale” are here now and here to stay. Providers are being forced to create value at the business layer within chosen industry verticals, either through technology or business solutions, and add scale to such value through a concerted spread of such value across industries.

Client organizations are pushing their products and services into new markets. Leveraging local partnerships, typically through sourcing models has become a key route that guarantees a fair amount of success with market penetration. In addition, borderless trading environments within various trading blocks – Asia, Latin America, and Europe – have created the ability of organizations to focus on their consumers’ real needs without having to deploy a one-size-fits-all model.

The underlying technologies that in the hitherto days provided the core support to offering services from a centralized location no longer hold true. The distinction between technology and technology-enabled services is becoming less important than the distinction between “values for end-consumer” vs. “low cost destination for non-core activities”.

Today in order to provide utility-based services it has become critically important for organizations to set up “centers of excellence” that focus either on creating a core competence with services for the entire global marketplace, or for a regional marketplace with localized specificities. These COEs are being created by companies through leveraging local expertise either in form of resources or corporations. Such is the nature of the demand that most developing and emerging nations are being evaluated on their ability to be perceived as “centers of excellence” and not just as nations with the base requirements to conduct business. This trend is true of most large multinationals and mid-sized players who are scouting for local capabilities that are aimed at “creating utility based services” for their end-consumers, regardless of the function or industry they are a part of.

The marketplace always engaged in the mainstay conversation surrounding core and non-core services. Today the tenor of such discussions is changing as there is a trend for companies to locate or distribute services from a utility standpoint, and not just a functional or technological standpoint. Hence companies are bundling back core and non-core so long as such services – in a combined manner – are considered key utility for a segment within a chosen marketplace. In such contexts, destinations and providers need to clearly morph their business models that address client organizations’ needs for bundled service capabilities. Here the distinction is not around technology or business processes, rather it is utility-driven.

One needs to only look at the telecommunications industry in Africa to realize the forward-thinking “utility” approach citizens from various nations have adopted. This goes to show that the continent, though quite behind other continents / nations in terms of the development index, is quite ready to create the value client organizations are looking for, so long as such value includes them as recipients. Nations like India, Philippines, Brazil and Chile have many success stories where ICT and services have enabled a deprived citizenry. Whether it is providing financing for non-muster poor Brazilians, or it is providing poor Indian farmers with technological access to identify which markets to sell their crops to, ICT solutions have been created and deployed because of a socio-economic need.

Along the way commercial imperatives have been addressed successfully as well. One needs to only read CK Prahlad’s thoughts on the large opportunity available at The Bottom of the Pyramid to realize the value that can be co-created via global sourcing when the drivers include “socio-economic needs” consistently. In this context it is heartwarming to note the work Leila Chariyath Janah from Samasource does to promote social sourcing in Africa or what Greg Branish does in offering sourcing services through NISH in the US. Unfortunately we don’t have too many such examples.

The Supply Side Conundrum

At the end of the year 2000 India, Philippines, Czech Republic, Canada and Ireland were the key sourcing destinations. Today, the composition has grown to more than 25 countries. The marketplace today has more choices than the ability to analyze such choices coherently. Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Jordan, Egypt, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Malta, Macedonia, El Salvador, Columbia, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Russia, Pakistan, Costa Rica, China, Jamaica, UAE, Romania, Slovakia, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Uganda, and South Africa are all speaking the same language that only a few countries were hitherto well versed with. I would like to think this is a reflection of a maturing industry where many developing and emerging countries would benefit by creating much needed jobs and providing their economies with significant thrusts to move forward. I am also inclined to think whether the opportunity that these nations – and their industries – perceive is really available for them to tap into.

While the demand for global sourcing has grown at a healthy rate over the past decade, making available over $240 Billion in opportunity, is the nature of the opportunity understood well enough by the supply side? Is the demand side clearly articulating their needs appropriately?

I see a serious “supply clutter” around replicable, highly commoditized and cost-chasing services. With the plethora of location choices that client organizations today have, their expectations have transcended the need to look at a location or region “inclusively” – a term I use loosely here to encompass not just client needs but the needs of the supply companies and locations/ nations. Such lack of inclusivity is perhaps the key reason for the large clutter we see in the marketplace today.

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME
TO EMBARK ON CREATING ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS

Given almost zero entry barriers to creating service provider entities, and given the positive view governments are taking of the latent opportunity, there has never been a better time than now for many emerging and developing nations to embark on creating enabling environments that can attract investors and deals, and consequently create thousands of service jobs.

So is this positive view sustainable? Has it helped supply destinations realize their small goals so far? Is the view of the industry still positive? I don’t think so. We are not investing enough in understanding the key drivers of policies, and resultant  industries within these nations. We are also not spending sufficient time in thinking about the economic and social impact that nations desire to create, when they invest in specific industries.

The Socio-Economics Sourcing Playbook

Over recent years American consumers have grown more socially responsible and also reflects the fact that there are significant profits to be made in conjunction with such social imperatives. Similar stories exist across developing nations.

Today’s conversations around the attractiveness of global sourcing locations is largely a one-sided conversation – that of the client. I have been a witness to a host of conversations where clients compare the catalysts available in a developing and forward-looking service-oriented nation with another emerging nation that has a debt-burdened economy and flailing old industries. How reasonable is such a comparison?

It is commonplace for client recommendations to be centered around how a nation should focus on creating a highly qualified workforce when the existing citizenry is suffering from lack of basic jobs. Further these recommendations often touch upon how an emerging nation can benefit from offering high-value services – where the education system was barely sufficient to create a base level workforce.

The moot point of my argument here is the lack of readiness – and whether we see it. Taking expectations of demand and translating them into imperatives cannot be done using a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

In Bridging the Gap

Governments and trade promotion agencies are quite active in the global sourcing space. However, they don’t get the much needed attention they deserve. They have a story to tell – it is compelling, it is real, it has a base in co-creation of value, it incorporates significant flexibility at the highest levels of government, it has an impact that is collective, and it requires a commitment that is mutual.

Most nations have signed the Millennium Development Goals of the UN and are keen on investing in industries that can enhance the quality of life of their citizenry. Industries within such nations have the core responsibility to make it happen. The importance of ICT and its ability to create these positive impacts cannot be underscored enough. Likewise the amount of access global sourcing provides industries and companies cannot be underscored enough either.

It is time for the sourcing industry to rise to the challenge to create socio-economic value for its participants. The days when we only discussed client objective needs to be replaced by a set of collective goals – such inclusivity can only happen with industries that span borders and cultures. The global sourcing industry surely is one such industry where these expectations can be translated into reality.

Trends in IT Outsourcing

By: Jerry Luftman, Ph.D., Executive Director and Professor Global Institute for IT Management
and Barry Derksen, Ph.D. lec. MMC CISA CGEIT, Research Director of the Business & IT Trends Institute

The Society for Information Management (SIM) has been conducting surveys of senior IT executives for over 30 years to help IT and business leaders understand and prepare for important issues and trends. Started in 1980 the SIM survey focused solely on IT in the United States. Since 2010 the survey has been expanded by the lead author (who has been facilitating the survey since 2000) to include Europe, Asia/Australia and Latin America.

The 2013 survey sought the input of senior IT executives representing 1,232 organizations from these target regions. (See Table 1 and Table 2 for participant geographies and industry segments.)

The primary categories of the 2013 survey focused on:

  1. Management Concerns
  2. Application and Technology Investments
  3. IT Budget Allocation
  4. IT Organizational Considerations
  5. IT Outsourcing
  6. Cloud Computing

Generally, the survey reaffirmed that IT leaders globally have long been looking to outsourcing as a vehicle to reduce costs as well as to fill skills gaps (skills gap ranked 4th in the list that keeps IT managers awake at night).

Evaluating outsourcing as a whole, which includes offshoring, nearshoring and consulting of non-internal staff, the allocation of outsourcing in IT budgets has been notably increasing in Europe at 36% (compared to 26% in 2012), remaining static in Latin America at 32% (the same percentage as in 2012) and declining in Asia/Australia now totaling 35% (compared to 48% in 2012) and 20% in the U.S (26% in 2012).

Overall, global sourcing budgets as a percent of IT budget is decreasing. In 2009 the percent of the IT budget for sourcing was 67% as compared to 54.4% in 2013, with a further decline in 2014 projected at 53.5%. The 2013 breakdown by region is Europe: 58%, Asia/Australia: 56%, Latin America: 51%, and the U.S.: 54%.

Globally 58.7% of the IT budget is allocated in-house (non-outsourced) domestic. In the U.S. the figure is 73.2%, with Asia/Australia at 50.3%, Latin America at 53.8% and in Europe 53.4%. (See Figure 1.)

The percent of 2013 IT budgets allocated to offshore outsourcing in Asia/Australia (spending the most) is 10.4% of the IT budget; whereas U.S. and Europe both allocate 5.7% and Latin America allocated 7.7%. Of note, Europe has the highest percent of IT budget allocated to domestic outsourcing (32.2%), and the U.S. has the lowest with 17.2%.

Table 1 – Percentage of Respondents by Geography
Geography Total
United States

493

Europe

406

Asia

93

Latin America

178

Australia

50

 TOTAL

1232


Table 2: Percentage of Respondents by Industry  
Industry Frequency %
Agriculture

13

1.09%

Chemical Industry

29

2.36%

Aerospace / Defense

13

1.09%

Automative

56

4.54%

Business Professional Services

42

3.45%

Consumer Goods

24

2.00%

Construction

27

2.18%

Electronics / Semiconductor

13

1.09%

Education

125

10.16%

Energy

24

2.00%

Financial Services / Insurance

138

11.25%

Food Services

9

0.73%

Government – Federal

36

2.90%

Government -State

36

2.90%

Government – Local

22

1.81%

Government – other (specify)

16

1.27%

Healthcare / Medical

64

5.26%

Hospitality / Travel / Leisure / Tourism

13

1.09%

IT services / Consulting

182

14.88%

Manufacturing

62

5.08%

Media / Entertainment

24

2.00%

Medical Technology / BioMedical

9

0.73%

Mining / Minerals

24

2.00%

Printing / Publishing

13

1.09%

Real Estate

24

2.00%

Not-For-Profit – Public Sector

27

2.18%

Not-For-Profit – Charitable Institution

11

0.91%

Not-For-Profit – Other (specify)

16

1.27%

Retail / Wholesale

40

3.27%

Telecommunications

44

3.63%

Transportation / Distribution

24

2.00%

Utilities

22

1.81%

(other industry = 7 (0.6%)

1225

100.00%


Figure 1 – Allocation of 2013 IT Budget
Allocation of IT Budget Graph Luftman

Of Weather, Women, War, Wellness & Wealth

By: Karen A. Morris
Karen is a strategic advisor to national and multinational companies. She is also a frequent speaker and writer on innovation and leadership at global forums and conferences around the world.  

Sustainability has many dimensions and fittingly they are, like any complex ecosystem, intricately interconnected and entwined. As problem solvers, this invites us to investigate the meaning of patterns, connections, and the insights they offer up, even when least expected. Consider the seemingly disparate calendar activities over the last month of various GSC Board members. As we went about our business, matter by matter, in linear fashion, little did we anticipate webs of connectivity, but they were there…

Connections

We were involved in the organizational phase of our new Women’s Empowerment Initiative which will be featured in The Source next month; our collective search for inspiring sponsors is on; and work has commenced on the 2014 3S Awards. As always, the narrative of the 3S Awards submissions reminds us of the impact a few can have on many.  Gloria Starr- Kins, a veteran UN correspondent and loyal GSC supporter, introduced us to an early contender for this year’s awards, Just Shea, a social enterprise focused on Ghanaian women; and we anticipate many more.

Dr. Wanda Lopuch and I were especially honored to attend the United Nations Eighth Session of the General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWGonSDG) Post 2015. We are grateful to Patricia Chaves (Senior Sustainable Development Officer, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Division for Sustainable Development) for facilitating this opportunity. The working groups presented thoughtful and extensively researched work on topics ranging from biodiversity, climate change, equality as a human right, social equity and gender equality, to conflict prevention and resolution. And of course, ever-present on the sustainability agenda, that malignant and persistent enemy of humanity, extreme poverty. World Bank estimates still indicate that two and a half billion people subsist on under two dollars a day.

In addition to attending the OWGonSDG, the GSC was also represented at a Private Sector Briefing hosted at the UN and chaired by Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, ITC. The thematic focus of the briefing was the three “E”s of inclusive and sustainable development: Entrepreneurship – which leads to Economic Growth – which in turn creates Employment opportunities. This panel discussion alluded to the Women’s’ Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women under which companies commit, inter alia, to integrating women-owned companies into their value chains.  We saw how these principles are relevant to companies’ choices in vendor selection. We will feature the Women’s’ Empowerment Principles in our next edition.

We also attended a reception “For the Love of the Philippines” generously hosted by Convene (a New York based company) to support and honor the courageous and resilient people of the Philippines, still in grief and still in recovery from the horrific onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan. The Philippines is one amongst many destination sourcing countries in the southern hemisphere that are vulnerable to natural disasters.

Our emphasis is on the human face of globalization.

In our conversations and actions to promote socially sustainable sourcing, we are often talking about building economic links between Global North and South. Our emphasis is on the human face of globalization. In the diverse discourse we have enjoyed over the last month, we began to notice how often the big themes confronting (our) humanity resurfaced and the many ways in which they interrelate: weather, women, war, wellness and wealth.

Conversations

The Philippine event reminds us, for example, of the challenges confronting sourcing destination countries that repeatedly suffer natural disasters; even worse, in emergent economies in the Global South, financial and structural vulnerabilities amplify horribly the human suffering caused by these catastrophic phenomena. Phenomena whose frequency and impact may be exacerbated by climate change shocks. Great crises are, moreover, often compounded by consequent civil instability that further hampers recovery and renewed economic activity so vital to resilience. It just takes a moment to reflect that weather, wellness and wealth are intermeshed, that families’ wellness and well-being are critically tied to the well-being and wellness of women and that civil stability can rest on this. The tangled web can be woven into the fabric of a sustainable cohesive society or one torn by conflict and inequality.

We probably did not expect our conversations at a downtown New York City fundraiser to lead us to see these patterns. But of course we had been primed by listening to the discussions at the UN to step outside the microcosm of our experiences and see a bigger picture. The UN OWGonSDG illuminated vividly that problems geographically remote from where many of us are, nonetheless concern all of us. If patterns of production and consumption in our globalizing, interdependent world economies continue to neglect sustainability, the consequences will be devastatingly destructive to humanity, this planet, and all the life it sustains. As His Excellency Peter Maurer (the Swiss Ambassador to the UN) put it both wryly and succinctly: “In life, there may be a Plan B but there is no Planet B.”

The discussions we witnessed at the UN on the immense topic of Women’s Empowerment brought home the point that we cannot talk about the wellness, if you will, of our planet without taking into account the wellness – in every sense – of half its human population. Time and time again we see that strategies for empowering half of the world’s population cannot be uncoupled from sustainability imperatives. The forces that continue to make gender discrimination the most prevalent form of oppression today are, in a cruel continuity, often the forces that describe unsustainability: wellness in communities is undermined by poverty; poverty is exacerbated by lack of education and access to and control over resources; inequitable distribution of wealth traps economies and inhibits economic participation; human rights rely on rule of law; discriminatory cultural norms ultimately injure an entire society; conflict, violence and exploitation disproportionately harm women, children and the poor and so forth. A litany of aspects of a non-sustaining ecosystem.

In sustainability, as in women’s and girls’ rights, the statistics often cited in the UN discussions continue to be dauntingly depressing. Pessimism serves no purpose though. This is why in all that we do at the GSC, we are looking forward and moving forward, even if inchingly because socially sustainable sourcing practices can take on some of the above cited forces that harm societies. We are over a year away from our decennial year; those of us who co-founded the GSC remember what was missing from our conversations back then, what was considered off-topic for an organization concerned with the sourcing dimension of globalization. We were even chastised in some venues for our preoccupation with “irrelevant and trivial matters” such as sustainability.

The bottom line, in forward thinking organizations, yields to the triple bottom line.

Thankfully, those kinds of thinkers are increasingly seen as off-topic today. Business needs to be for profit but not only for profit. The bottom line, in forward thinking organizations, yields to the triple bottom line. We have no doubt that our sustainability agenda, the 3S Awards and our new Women’s Empowerment Initiative, are very much on-topic for sourcing strategies. These strategies are rich in transformative potential for women’s inclusion in education, economic participation and self determination and yet again advancing the human rights of women and girls contributes to holistic sustainability outcomes. They are connected.

Choices

All of us, whether in government, academia or business appreciate the short term tensions perceived and real, between economic development, growth and profitability, and sustainability. And yet, such an economic value-sustainability tension is essentially an oxymoron. How can the unsustainable path be the right choice? But for as long as this dichotomy obtains, our progress towards sustainability goals will continue to be a matter of our choices and their consequences. Inexorably, every culture, every business, every policy and strategy is the sum of its choices.

Choices and voices matter very much. We want to include as many perspectives as possible in our developing discussions on sustainability and women’s’ empowerment. In our next edition of The Source, for example, we will be sharing insights learnt from social entrepreneur Danielle Grace Warren who chose to make a difference to Ghanaian women in the shea nut agronomy.  Just Shea contributes to business resilience, economic opportunity and physical safety for these women with sustainably-sourced shea butter products and social impact programs.

Just Shea is a small social enterprise. During the UN Private Sector Briefing, we also heard from a large, multinational enterprise that supports women micro-entrepreneurs. Ms. Patricia Hargill of Alcatel-Lucent told how her global company chose to strategically integrate women-owned businesses into its global supply chain with demonstrable, uncompromised business success. Now, they are a positive precedent for others.

Convene sets a positive precedent too.  In sponsoring “For The Love of The Philippines”, Convene chose to help an employee’s family and their community devastated by Haiyan.  Convene uses principles of human centered design to transform underutilized urban spaces into insightfully architected meeting places. In this instance, they made their space make a difference by hosting a fundraiser. We were struck by their human centered passion and purpose.

We feel that in different but connected ways the behaviors of these wildly different organizations exemplify modernity. (Looking at our agenda a month ago we would not have seen this pattern.) They are boldly led; infused with innovation; inspired to make people, places and experiences better and are committed to design sustainable solutions.

Every organization is perfectly designed to do what it does. As we struggle to achieve the best of all possible worlds, as we always will, we need to look through a design lens. If we want to do something differently, sustainably, with equity and dignity for half the world and with opportunity distributed to all people in the world, then, for the love of everything and everyone that matter, which is everything and everyone, let’s feel the need to do something, and do it.