Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
In the world of CSR, there’s much discussion of “stakeholders” and whether or not a company is appropriately engaging them. My last company, an apparel retailer, had an especially sophisticated approach to stakeholder engagement. It’s a years-long evolution that has resulted in very strong relationships.
One of the company’s most important stakeholders is the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), a global union federation that advocates for workers’ rights in apparel supply chains. Neal Kearney, who sadly passed away unexpectedly last week, was the general secretary of ITGLWF and a very passionate, committed defender of human rights.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Neal several times during my tenure at my former company. He was fiercely intelligent and did not compromise when he thought the well-being of workers was at stake. His tireless efforts took him around the world, and his perspective was respected and sought by many multi-national apparel companies.
But beyond the great work he did on behalf of under- (or un-) represented garment workers everywhere, he was a very charming and kind man. As a representative of a major apparel retailer, I often found myself at the receiving end of his criticisms, but once the “work” part of our meetings ended, he’d be the first to suggest grabbing a drink. In these social situations, I found Neal to be funny, engaging and a pleasure to be around. He stood firm on what he believed, but he also knew how to enjoy life.
In Neal’s passing, the world has lost a true champion of the underprivileged. He will be missed.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Companies are networks of individual people. So, to be successful, you need to build relationships with your colleagues in order to get many things done. This especially holds true in CSR where you’re often part of a very small team with limited resources and you depend on others to help bring your work to life.
One of my biggest challenges in working for a large company is identifying the right person or people to help take a project from idea to execution. I’ve only been with my company for a year and a half, so I feel like I’m still learning the ropes and trying to figure out who’s in charge of what.
As a result, I often spend time following up on e-mails and voice messages that seem to have fallen on deaf ears. For example, I just spent about 45 minutes going through sent messages and either re-sending them to the original recipient or forwarding them to other people, in the hopes that someone will bite.
In my (very humble) opinion, I have some interesting ideas! The problem is, when you’re approaching a busy colleague who has no idea who you are (or what your job is), it’s tough to get them to understand how you can help. In CSR, you’re constantly engaging internally and building not only the value of your work, but also the value of your self.
So, especially during the early days of working for a company, you spend a lot of time re-sending, re-explaining and hoping that someone “gets” what you mean and agrees that you have an idea worth chatting about.