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The Economic Case for Social Responsibility

Posted By TIAW Administrator, Monday, June 16, 2014

I remember with fondness a dear friend who often said “what goes around comes around”, usually in response to something smart that I’d said to him, and his words always provoked a laugh because I knew he’d eventually exact revenge.  I think his words aptly address the nature of our actions:  when we do that which is good, it comes back to us and usually in greater volume than the original act, and unfortunately the reverse is also true.

Many public organizations, including the United Nations, describe social responsibility as the “Triple Bottom Line” of people, planet and profits.  In other words, businesses take responsibility for the impact that their actions or products exact on the environment (planet) or their community of stakeholders (people) while maintaining their ability to be a sustainable organization (profitable).  Social responsibility is always tied to ethics, or how a business operates with regard to the prescriptive of law and in the absence of it (e.g. when social values are at issue).  I believe there is a perfect correlation between socially responsible companies and economically viable companies.

Milton Friedman wrote in 1970 that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…” Although I admire and respect Friedman’s work, this was a point with which I simply could not agree. So, I conducted my own poll on Facebook, and was not surprised that 100% of the respondents disagreed with Friedman.  I do not have their reasons for disagreement, but I can give you mine.  Consider the view of Peter Drucker, who argued that businesses do not exist to maximize profits but to minimize costs, “costs of doing business and costs of staying in business; costs of labor and raw materials, and costs of capital; costs of today’s jobs and costs of tomorrow’s job and tomorrow’s pensions”.  Just as surely as we invest in raw materials and pay wages to create products, we also invest in our people and their well-being and by extension we invest in the sustainability of our communities. This is just good business.  I like the way that the founder and CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, expressed this thought when he said “It is the function of company leadership to develop solutions that continually work for the common good.”

Advancing social responsibility can change the world.  The Micro Credit Program of The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) has followed the Grameen Foundation idealogy by funding Village Banks all over the world.  The women who have received micro loans through these banks have a reported 98% repayment rate. Their economic empowerment is contributing to economic expansion in their villages.  Women who learn and earn are less likely to live in poverty.  

There are very clear benefits of social responsibility to the business.  For one, it is differentiating and can even result in preference by customers given equal prices or products from competitors.  For another, it leads to an internal good will among employees that frequently ripples externally as these employees model similar behavior.  It also builds a culture that is justifiably proud and recognized as doing the right thing.

Leaders, your path is clear.  Do that which is in the common good, and it will come back to you.

Lisa Kaiser Hickey

Tags:  business ethics  Developing the Leader Within You  economic empowerment for women  effective leadership  empowerment for women  entrepreneurial success  social good of leadership  social responsibility  social responsibility of business  women entrepreneurs  women entrepreneurship  Women Leadership 

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The Leader Within

Posted By TIAW Administrator, Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Although women represent about half of the world’s talent, our talents are not enlisted in equal numbers. Our challenge is to build our own capacity for leadership, put ourselves forth as capable candidates for leadership, and educate the organizations seeking leaders to connect with us as a viable talent pool.

 

At TIAW, our Women’s Leadership Network is bringing forth some excellent tools to help you develop and market your leadership potential. 

 

First, you can work on building capacity through TIAW’s partner project, the Global Women’s Leadership Summit, which is expected to be the world’s largest forum for professional women in the world.  GWALS is a collaboration of the world’s pre-eminent leaders to forward the advancement of women on a global scale. 

 

Ready for the next step?  TIAW makes it easy with live links on our web site to become qualified as a Global Board Ready Woman. Once qualified, you can enroll for free in AESC’s BlueSteps program, which helps you craft your resume and market your skills for the job or position you seek.  

 

Finally, learn what is happening around the world in leadership.  TIAW membership brings you free subscriptions to Dialogue, a global publication for CEOs.  We also bring you the benefit of an annual subscription to the international version of Enterprising Women.  Just open your email and enjoy!

 

Own the challenge to achieve your potential.  We know you can!



Lisa Kaiser Hickey

President, TIAW

Tags:  Developing the Leader Within You  econeconomic empowerment for women  effective leadership  empowerment for women  Leadership  natural leaders  women entrepreneurs  women entrepreneurship  Women Leadership 

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Leading Naturally

Posted By TIAW Administrator, Monday, May 12, 2014
Updated: Monday, May 12, 2014

March brought with it International Women’s Day and, in the United States, the national celebration of Women’s History Month.  I found myself reflecting on the inspired leadership of those that we have honored over the years in TIAW – those World of Difference Award-winners who have literally moved mountains in terms of women’s economic empowerment.  These women are natural leaders; they know exactly who they are, what needs to be done, took action and were consistent to the core in their character.

Leadership is grounded on character, which is developed by incorporating desirable behaviors into habits to the point where these behaviors become natural to us.  What are the ‘desirable behaviors’?  I think the minimum list includes patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, honesty and commitment.  Character provides the substance behind the servant leader; indeed, he/she cannot have trust and authenticity without it.  Take a look at this list of five characteristics of the servant leader developed by author James Autry:

  1. Be authentic by always showing your real self
  2. Be vulnerable by being honest with your feelings
  3. Be accepting, which is not necessarily agreeing or approving
  4. Be present and fully participating in every conversation and encounter
  5. Be useful, understanding this is the very foundation of service

The connection between behavior and effective leadership is compelling.  Does this mean leaders are perfect?  No, I don’t believe they are, but I do believe that they are perfectly consistent in character.  A favorite quotation comes from Robert K. Cooper who said so eloquently “no one expects you to be perfect – only genuine and honest.  And so it is with the notable men and women who have the courage to find themselves, to tell the truth about who they are, the mistakes they have made, the dreams they hold dear and what they’re most concerned about.”

 Let your leadership rise with your character.  Be honest about the character habits you know you need to cultivate and then deploy your self-discipline to create those habits.  You will soon find yourself unconsciously competent with these new behaviors, and your natural leadership will emerge.  The servant leadership you have cultivated can now help create meaning and purpose for others, as eloquently posited by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader”:

 “Do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” 

Your character is the greatest single factor shaping the culture of the company or organization you lead.  It will manifest itself in the values of your employees or staff quicker than anything else you may intend or direct, or any policy manual you may write.  These values become the context in which you and/or your employees work every day.  They shoulder with you the responsibility to carry out the mission and achieve the vision you intend.  Equip them with a sure foundation by being a leader of character and service that they are sure to model.

 

Lisa Kaiser Hickey

President, TIAW

 

Tags:  effective leadership  International Women’s Day  natural leaders  women leadership  Women’s History Month 

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About Us

Who are We?

The International Alliance for Women is organized as a 501(c)3 foundation in the USA. We are a global community of economically empowered women across all continents that welcome you to our members’ cities and countries, connecting you with their networks of business and community professionals.

What's our Purpose?

The International Alliance for Women connects leading women’s organizations worldwide to leverage their reach and resources, creating a global community of economically empowered women.

Through our Global Programs we seek to make a difference in the world for those women who are not empowered economically.