By Marc J. Lane
Corporate sustainability starts with a company’s value system and a principles-based approach to doing business. This means operating in ways that meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. By incorporating the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact into their strategies, policies and procedures -- and by establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic obligations to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success.
These are the Ten Principles that The Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, P. C., its financial services affiliates, and other signatories to the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative, have embraced:
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor;
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labor; and
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
The United Nations Global Compact has just announced the launch of its Young SDG Innovators Programme, an opportunity for participating companies to identify young talent within their organizations to collaboratively accelerate business innovation toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Those Goals are an urgent call for action by all the world’s countries in a global partnership. The SDGs’ operating assumption is that ending poverty and other deprivations go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
The 10-month Young SDG Innovators Programme will empower future business leaders to help deliver on their company’s sustainability objectives through new, market-driven technologies and business models. No less important, it will engage young leaders in online and in-person workshops, case studies, company visits and forum discussions. Those leaders will forge work relationships through coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking; and interact with some of the brightest minds taking on the most daunting sustainability and innovation challenges around the world.
After some 500 years, the merits and efficacy of capitalism are being challenged. While unquestionably the most powerful force in shaping our world, the capitalist system is also a seminal cause of extreme wealth inequality, unprecedented climate crisis and general discontent. The solutions to those vexing problems are to be found in the power of inspired leaders. A potent vision for how a company can benefit the world – and not just its stockholders – can have amazing effects on employees’ sense of mission and, with it, their job satisfaction, commitment and productivity.
Companies that are, or become, signatories to the UN Global Compact are eligible to nominate up to three high-performing professionals, 35 years of age or younger, for the inaugural Programme starting in September. In the United States, nominations are to be submitted through Adam Gordon (firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-563-0644), who must receive them by August.
Signing on to the Compact is good business and good for all of us. And so is ensuring the integration of the SDGs into your company’s business strategy -- by collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing.
The United Nations Global Compact may be an important way to prioritize positive social impact in your company’s culture. To explore other ways to effectively expand and optimize your corporate social responsibility agenda, please feel free to reach out to me, in confidence, at 312-372-1040 or email@example.com.
Marc J. Lane is a Chicago attorney and financial adviser and the vice chair of the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation.
The world's first social impact bond, or SIB, was introduced in 2010 to fund innovative social programs that realistically might reduce recidivism by ex-offenders in Peterborough, England, and, with it, the public costs of housing and feeding repeat offenders. Prudently building on the strengths of that initiative, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rolling out SIBs to help solve some of the state's most vexing social problems.
A SIB isn't a traditional bond where investors are guaranteed a fixed return but a contract among a government agency that agrees to pay for improved social outcomes, a private financing intermediary and private investors. SIBs shift the risk of experimenting with promising but untested intervention strategies from government to private capital markets, with public funds expended only after targeted social benefits have been achieved.
Peterborough's problem was daunting: Sixty percent of prisoners serving short-term sentences historically had gone on to re-offend within a year after their release. But policymakers were confident that a solution was within their reach. They attracted private investment to pay experienced social service agencies to provide intensive, multidisciplinary support to short-term prisoners, preparing them to re-enter society and succeed outside the penal system.
The government decided which goals would be supported, but exactly how those goals would be achieved was left to the private sector. It was the investors, through a bond-issuing organization, who ultimately endorsed the allocation of investment proceeds — how much would be invested in job training, drug rehabilitation and other interventions.
If the Peterborough plan eventually shrinks recidivism rates by 7.5 percent or more, the government will repay the investors' capital and share the taxpayers' savings with them, delivering up to a 13 percent return. If the target isn't hit, the investment will have failed and the government will owe the investors nothing.
Illinois' SIB effort was spearheaded by the state's Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise — the governor's think tank on social issues, which I am privileged to chair — with support from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aurora-based Dunham Fund. A request for information issued by the Office of Management and Budget on May 13 yielded responses from service providers eager not only to reduce recidivism here but also to create jobs, revitalize communities, improve public health outcomes, curb youth violence, cut high school dropout rates and alleviate poverty.
Now the governor has issued a request for proposals intended to spur better outcomes for Illinois' most at-risk youth — by increasing placement stability and reducing re-arrests for youth in the state's Department of Children and Family Services, and by improving educational achievement and living-wage employment opportunities justice-involved youth most likely to re-offend upon returning to their communities.
Kudos to Mr. Quinn for bringing SIBs to Illinois. May they soon start delivering on their promise.- See more at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131007/OPINION/131009850/a-new-kind-of-futures-contract-for-illinois#sthash.ThgxeiFt.dpuf
The Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, A Professional Corporation
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