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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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Passion and Leadership

Posted By TIAW Administrator, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seventy five years ago, the founder of Douglass Signs was an artist and creative spirit who thoroughly enjoyed figuring out any challenge.  It was L.J. Douglass’ passion for solving problems for others that led him to react to literally every sign request with a “Can Do!” approach.  When he was asked to mark gas water heaters, he learned how to make decalcomanias (water slide decals), which led to the formation of the screen printing division of the company.  He employed a young artist to help him design the new line of decal products.  Within a few years, that artist – my dad, Tom Kaiser – faced a choice between incorporating the screen printing division at L.J.’s retirement or losing his job.  Although there were many things he did not know, he, like L.J., was resourceful, passionate, and determined to succeed.

Do you love what you do?  Think back to the times that you made choices about jobs, education, or volunteering.  The choices that lasted were most likely those with which you engaged with passion.  Perhaps you had a particular talent; perhaps you just really believed in the organization or subject as one of value.  Whatever your initial reasons, the more you experienced success the more likely you were to also develop other passions and ultimately significance as a leader in that organization or subject.

It was my dad who helped me find my passion.  He knew that I was not happy in my first year of college, and urged me to think about what I really loved to do.  Considering that, I decided to major in fine arts and switched schools accordingly.  The switch gave me a chance to work with my dad, and I learned the commercial side of art and design – and figuring out anything – under his tutelage. Years later, as I became the third artist-owner of the company, I yearned to give back to the arts.  First was a decision for all charitable contributions to go to the arts and exhibit leadership with community arts programs such as Swansation and Kaleidoscope.  Next was a decision to begin a serigraphy (fine art screen print) collection at the Polk Museum of Art. Currently, Douglass Screen Printers helps underwrite Kids Tag Art, a program started by the Polk County Tax Collector’s Office enabling fifth grade students to design their own license tags and help raise arts monies for their schools.  The program has since spread into multiple Florida counties.

I believe my love for the arts stemmed originally from the joy that comes from creativity and expression.  However, following this pursuit also forced me to continue to be a student. There was so much I did not know -- but had to know – in order to successfully run a business.   As certain subjects were mastered, others arose that seemed equally urgent to know.  Learning soon became a new passion.  Realizing that one of the best ways to learn was to teach others, yet another passion emerged.  I now find myself seeking every opportunity to use the things I have learned so that I can make a positive difference for others.   I am not sure I would have made a choice when I was of college age to be a servant leader, but that is where my passions have led me.

Do you live your passions?  Consider what you love to do and how it fits with your talents.  Are there things you need to learn to be more successful, and do you know where to start to get the education you need?  One of the best ways to learn about success is from someone who is exactly that, and can act as a role model to you.  Once you’ve connected thought and consideration to your passion, set lofty goals that keep you motivated.  Apply discipline and single-mindedness in pursuit of these goals, but always be open to other opportunities along the journey.  Give of yourself when you can, and it will return to you ten-fold.

One of my favorite sayings is a small poem by Rabindranath Tagore, who deftly expresses the concept of servant leadership with these words: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service, and behold, I discovered that service was joy”.

It is my joy to serve the world’s women through the work of TIAW.  I promise if you look for your passion, and you will find your joy.  If you’d like to learn more about servant leadership, investigate the life work of Robert Greenleaf.


Lisa Kaiser Hickey

President, TIAW

Tags:  economic empowerment for women  entrepreneurial success  Leadership  passion and leadership  passionate leadership  servant leadership  Women Leadership 

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Five Pathways for Winning Leaders

Posted By TIAW Administrator, Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What is a good leader?  Perhaps it is best thought of as having the ability to inspire followers.  You may initially obtain followers due to recognition or persuasion, and you may then exert a little influence to retain them, but ultimately they will have to trust you to stay with you.  Can you learn how to be a good leader?  Yes!

 First, be authentic.  Communicate clearly and often.  People will respect you for this, and they will reply in kind.  When you give your word, keep it and begin building a foundation of trust.  Make meaningful relationships --- some day, they may be all you have! 

Second, be the example you want to see in others.  I often think about the words penned by my eldest son many years ago as punishment for throwing a temper tantrum on the ball field one evening (I asked him to write down what he thought it took to have a successful game):

“It takes having fun.  It takes skill to do what your coach says.  Don’t make unnecessary throws.  If there’s a play you can’t make leave it to the other guy.  If you can’t use the bat you’re given, get another bat.  Try and do your best.  Don’t get mad.  Don’t hold the ball.  Don’t throw your glove.  When you steal home feel good about it.  When you hit the ball feel good about it.  When you screw up a play don’t be mad at the team or yourself.  Feel good about yourself when you make an out.  Don’t spoil the game for everybody.  Never quit just because you get mad.  When you make a home run feel good about it.  If you have missed a play and the coach comes out, don’t [make excuses and] say you don’t want to play where you’re playing.”

Sometimes people follow you because of what you do, or what they think you will do.  They want to be part of success, and may sense that you have attained it.

Third, embrace risk, because with it often comes great reward.  Shortly after he turned twenty, my eldest son determined that it was both honorable and an exercise of peer leadership to enter the Marine Corps.  After two promotions and several commendations during his first year, he volunteered to go to Iraq.  Observing his journey, I have some new beliefs.  Leadership is risk, and it is reward.  Leadership can put you in seemingly untenable situations, but it can leave you the better for it.  Leadership can cause you to question the very heart of your resolve, but in the end your convictions and perseverance about doing the right things for the right reasons will always prove the best course. 


Fourth, help and respect others.  Why is this important?  I think helping others makes loyalty possible.  Respecting others lies at the very heart of diversity.  Discover the whole person and you will find common ground, mutual respect, and engender more trust.  Discover the whole person and you will find other leaders, too, and you can then cultivate their success along with your own.  As John Maxwell said, “The more people you develop, the greater the extent of your dreams.”


Fifth, exercise self-discipline. Take the time to download a free copy of the John Maxwell book Developing the Leader Within You.  Maxwell counsels that the singular price tag of leadership is self-discipline.  He says “discipline …is the choice of achieving what you really want by doing things you don’t really want to do.  After successfully doing this for some time, discipline becomes the choice of achieving what you really want by doing things you now want to do!”  I can attest that this is true.  Once you commit to a life of leadership, it will define you and your results so quickly that you will never want to be anything less.


Sometimes we fear leadership.  We don’t want to play.  In fact, some of you have heard me say “if I can’t win, I don’t want to play”.  I’d like to explain this philosophy.  The difference between playing to win and playing for any other purpose (like not losing!) is the difference between success and mediocrity.  Leading is playing to win.  Always.


Within your leadership arena, set your standards high and exercise the discipline necessary to achieve your goals with authenticity, unflagging effort, and the resolve to collaborate with and respect others.  This kind of discipline always results in good will, better decisions, and great leadership, the marks of a 21st century organization and the kind of leadership I intentionally strive to deliver. And, for those of you who are already established leaders, take your development one step further and qualify as a Global Board Ready Woman through TIAW.  The world is starved for the balancing leadership skills of women.  Won’t you step in? 


Lisa Kaiser Hickey

President, TIAW


Tags:  Developing the Leader Within You  entrepreneurial success  Global Board Ready Woman  Leadership  Women Leadership 

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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.

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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.