Monday, 15 January 2018

Sustainable value creation must include business, society and the environment

The intersection between business, society and environment is where smart CSR works to create value for all stakeholders.

It’s all about aligning business, social and environmental interests. At first blush it may seem like there would be little place for commonality. Over time we’ve come to accept that competing interests have ruled out cooperation.

But what we’ve actually seen is that value - however it’s defined - is important to everyone.
Our world is not as silo’d as you might think. We all work (business), live in communities (society) and expect our environment to be preserved. So there is actually a lot more commonality than one would expect to find.

It’s important that businesses evolve, and can be rewarding too. Stakeholders or all types, shareholders, governments and others are pushing, pulling and shoving business to engage on social issues and environmental stewardship.

 Businesses that get this right can create competitive advantage and prosper. The role of government is also evolving as it bridges the gaps between business and society.

Our approach to CSR is strategic and value-centric. It is all about creating value and driving efficiency in that process by identifying areas where the outcomes work for all stakeholders and result in positive net outcomes for everyone.

Strategic, value-centric CSR is far from the charity and philanthropy that many have in mind when they hear the word. It is all about strengthening business value and, simultaneously, creating positive social and community impacts and efficient environmental stewardship.

Really, it’s no different if you’re trying to drive efficiency in your operations, in your financing structure, in your engineering, in your human resources - it’s all about efficiency. Successful businesses are efficient in creating value.

 This principle should carry into your CSR and social engagement focus as well. Efficiencies drive value. But there is a misconception that all efficiencies are driven by cuts, when it may actually be strategic investments that lead to further growth and sustainable prosperity.

Our job is to shift the mindset so the relationship between business and society is not seen as one of competing interests. We find creative ways to deliver value for both in a way that also preserves the environment. It isn’t about taking from business and giving to society, it’s finding a way to make more for both.

Efficiency, value and sustainability is the path forward and we’re well positioned to deliver the programs to deliver on all three.

 If you’d like to speak to Wayne Dunn about how a value-centric strategic approach to CSR can help your government or business leverage social capital to deliver more value you can send him an email at

Saturday, 20 August 2016

CSR & Shared Value Partnerships for the SDGs

Public Private Partnerships: CSR & Shared Value Partnerships for the SDGs

Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Shared Value are today’s most important issues for shareholders according to Harvard Business Review (July 2016).

The world has changed. Society expects business to create social value along with shareholder value and is prepared to punish those that don’t.

This expectation represents a risk and often an opportunity. Many firms are embracing them and turning them into a strategic advantage. Others are ignoring them at their peril and most will end up paying a price for doing so.

Public and private sector organizations of all types are discovering that SDG focused Public Private Partnerships can help meet society’s growing expectations AND produce significant organizational value as well.
Businesses, NGOs, governments and other private and public organizations are finding that the SDG framework can facilitate synergy and alignment between non-conventional partners, creating an orientation that serves the partner’s and society’s interest. A Win-Win-Win success

SDG partnerships can help business with social license, product marketing, employee retention and recruitment, regulatory friction, brand development and a host of other areas.
Similarly, SDG partnerships can support mission issues for NGOs and other non-business organizations. The partnerships can bring strategic capacity, financial and human resources, economies of scale, operational expertise, etc.

These value impacts are being discovered by businesses, NGOs and other organizations worldwide.
There is often so much room to add creativity and foster fun, alignment and impact. 

Here are a few examples – there are many, many more.

Goats, SDGs and Data Solutions 

Formation Data Solutions had a limited marketing budget so teamed with Oxfam on a See a Demo, Get a Goat promotion. Every customer that saw a demo of Formation’s service had a goat donated in their name to an impoverished African Family. 

It drove demos, sales and evolved into a corporate mission! And benefited families and communities and Oxfam. How Win, Win, Win is that!

SAB Millar: Integrating the SDGs

SAB Millar has gone a step beyond SDG partnerships and systematically aligns and reports on its core business values and corporate mission to the SDGs. 

This helps the business to more efficiently align shareholder and societal value across its operations and facilitates developing partnerships with impact.

Support the SDGs & Slash Recruiting, Retention and HR Costs

Cone Communications study found that 93% of employees want to work for a company that is socially and environmentally responsible with 70% saying they would be more loyal to the company. A strong majority of Millennials and Gen Xers put social and environmental responsibility as a core expectation

“When you implement CSR into your company’s core of operation, you’ll have happier and more excited employees, even at the management level. This will ultimately lead to greater productivity and talent retention, not to mention actively helping make the world a better place.”

With these (seemingly) obvious advantages you would expect to see an explosion of mutually beneficial, productive partnerships. We are seeing some, but it is really only scratching the surface.

Effective public-private development partnerships can drive organizational success. Yet many fail to start or fail to survive?

Natural Partnerships – Unnatural Partners. 

Business, NGOs and development agencies have natural partnership opportunities but organizational history, including historical mistrust between many businesses and NGOs and the often conflicting perspectives of each organization’s internal and external stakeholders can make these partnerships hard to realize.

The SDGs provide a framework that can facilitate effective public private partnerships for development, but much work needs to be done to help organizations to embrace the opportunities and develop durable partnerships that align societal and shareholder value.


If you are truly interested in development partnerships that align shareholder value and social value we can help.

The CSR Training Institute’s core mission is helping public and private sector organizations to be more efficient and effective at creating alignment between shareholder and societal value.
We believe that public private partnerships based on the SDG framework are an opportunity that must be embraced. We have developed a program to help organizations and leaders from all sectors to develop and implement public private SDG partnerships.

The first offering of the program is Oct 10-12, 2016 in Accra, Ghana. More information>>>

Click here for program website

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Fresh Eyes --> Fresh Insights Analysis

Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights Analysis

Fresh eyes can often bring new perspectives and discover fresh insights, identifying previously unnoticed opportunities, risks and issues.  A Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights analysis of your social responsibility and sustainability programs and projects can often identify opportunities and risks that may be unnoticeable by someone working closely with them every day.  The easiest way is to think of it as a quick CSR SWOT.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

This exercise isn’t about the effectiveness or efficiency of your team and their activities.  In fact, our fresh-eyes will see clearer and farther because of the effectiveness and efficiency of your team.  Their knowledge, experience and understanding of the issues and situation can help keep our fresh eyes on target at the same time as my fresh eyes help them to new insights and perspectives.

The Analysis
A Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights Analysis will poke, prod and peek into your CSR projects and initiatives, getting into the field and visiting sites and operations, interviewing key internal and external stakeholders, meeting with current partners and identifying potential new ones.

Our experienced fresh eyes will undertake a rapid, 360-degree review of what you are doing and how you are managing social license, CSR, sustainability and other key issues.  We will systematically identify opportunities, risks, and other issues and provide a clear value-focused go forward workplan for you and your team to work with.

We will also undertake an identification and analysis of potential partners and collaborators with a focus on expanding resources, strengthening capacity and enhancing impact.  Go forward plans will be developed for the most promising partnership opportunities.

The Process
We normally spend 2-3 days at each field/project site meeting key internal and external stakeholders and leaders, visiting project operations and other relevant areas.  We look at all relevant aspects including operations, metrics, partnerships, reporting and communications and other areas as appropriate.

We then meet relevant leaders in your country office and will spend 2-3 days meeting with potential donor and implementation partners.

We will deliver a debriefing report and a final report that will contain our detailed findings, insights, recommendations and go forward strategies and plans, including a detailed partnership development strategy complete with contact names and development plans.

Partnerships often represent an opportunity to both deliver and receive additional value from CSR and sustainability projects.  They can range from full on execution and resource contributing partners through to communication and socialization partners.  Partners can add diversity, perspective, communications reach, stakeholder impact and credibility and, of course human, financial and organizational resources and capacity.

While they won’t fit in every situation we often find that a systematic review and assessment of partnership priorities, coupled with the development of a structured means of identifying, assessing and development partnerships going forward can make a significant impact on the success and impact of CSR and sustainability projects and budgets.

Reporting and Communications
There are many (often too many) options for reporting and communications and they are key, even critical drivers of success and value in CSR and sustainability programs.  Yet, they are seldom looked at strategically in terms of how they can support the societal, corporate and development impact objectives of the program.

There is no one size fits all.  Some programs are best run in stealth mode, others can be enhanced with strategic one-on-one direct communicati
ons with key stakeholders, or even peripheral observers.  Others are best to leave one of the partners lead communications. 

The point is, seldom is communications and reporting approached and managed strategically.  And yet, when it is, it can be a critical component of success for the project and for the company sponsoring it.

Metrics are another area that we often find where fresh eyes can spark a conversation leading project managers to identify additional or alternative metrics that can help them to better manage the project and maximize impacts.  We also spend time discussing the theory of metrics as it relates to CSR and sustainability projects, leaving them with tools for continuous improvement regarding metrics in
current and future projects.
Our presence on site, coupled with our extensive training experience can provide a valuable opportunity for training and team-building, even helping to resolve long-standing issues with external stakeholders and partners.

Some clients have us organize training sessions and workshops for corporate staff and some opt to include external partners from the community, government and other stakeholders.  There can be value in all of these.

First, the training helps to bring a common understanding and awareness of CSR and sustainability that may not be present. It helps everyone to see things from different perspectives and understand issues differently.

Almost as important, it can help to build team and common ground between the CSR team and participants from other areas of the corporation.  And, finally, spending a day learning and working together with the dynamics of an ongoing project sitting in front of them can help corporate, community and government stakeholders to enhance their relationships and better understand their respective perspectives.  Role-playing scenarios are especially effective for this.

When we set up a Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights Analysis we provide the opportunity to deliver training on site if that is something the client wants.

The Team
The project will be led by Wayne Dunn, President & Founder of the CSR Training Institute and Professor of Practice in Corporate Social Responsibility at McGill University.  He is a Stanford University Sloan Fellow with a M.Sc. in Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. 

He is a CSR and social license pioneer and a veteran of 25+ years and 70+ projects in the space where business meets society, including numerous Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights analysis in the mining and extractive sector..  His experience encompasses award winning global CSR and sustainability work including industry projects, CSR strategy and CSR Policy. 

He has hands-on industrial experience including in mineral exploration (diamond drilling, seismic, prospecting), heavy equipment, logging and commercial fishing.  He has also worked directly for and with local communities, NGOs, Governments and international organizations.  Combined, these experiences and skills enable him to absorb and understand various perspectives and engage effectively with an incredibly broad cross-section of project stakeholders.

Getting Started

If a Fresh Eyes à Fresh Insights analysis is something your operation might be interested in please contact Wayne Dunn ( to begin discussing scope, timing, budget and logistics.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Seven Snippets on CSR and Shared Value Management

Seven snippets on CSR and shared value management and governance inside organizations.

These are clipped from some of my lectures and Executive events delivered recently in Asia, Africa and North America.

Feel free to share and apply if you find them useful.







If you want to stay up to date as more of these are published I suggested following the CSR Training Institute on LinkedIN

Or connecting with me directly on LinkedIn 

You can always sign up for our periodic newsletter here

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Middle East CSR: Zakat, Sadaqah and Ownership Structure

CSR is creating internal tensions in some Middle Eastern Businesses

Many traditional, family owned businesses in the Middle East are taking on external investors and partners and many are experiencing tension and conflict around Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and implementation.

External investors and partners are pushing for a more strategic, mutually beneficial approach to corporate social responsibility, societal and community engagement.

Islamic business has a long standing tradition of supporting people and communities that has evolved from the Islamic principles of Zakat and Sadaqah [while Zakat is obligatory, Sadaqah is voluntary]. 

CSR in the Middle East has traditionally taken more of a philanthropic or charitable approach; a transfer of money and resources from business to social needs and issues with limited attention to sustainable impact or business value. 

The philanthropic focus and recipients have generally been driven by the charitable interests of the families that own the business, rather than the strategic needs and opportunities of the business. 

For the ownership families there is often a close personal and family connection with the causes supported and the charities and organizations that are involved.  New partners and external investors seldom have the same connections with the charities and causes and look to see more strategic, mutually beneficial approaches to social responsibility and community engagement.

This is leading to internal tensions and putting managers and leaders in difficult positions.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to resolving these issues a systematic value-focused analysis [basically a CSR SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)] can provide a solid platform for developing effective go-forward strategies.

A CSR SWOT can help any company to be more effective at meeting societal obligations and expectations and, importantly, at integrating them with shareholder expectations and interests.  This applies to all businesses.

It isn’t just family owned Middle Eastern businesses that fall into a pattern of blindly supporting societal causes and issues without periodic review and assessment.  This happens to businesses of all sorts and from all over the world.

Executives and managers have elaborate systems in place to analyze business priorities, budgets and activities.  But, seldom does corporate social responsibility and sustainability get subjected to the same regular scrutiny and analysis.

A CSR SWOT can be a smart investment for most businesses, including Middle Eastern businesses where there is tension between founding families and external investors and partners over the focus and extent of CSR priorities, activities and budgets.

For more on CSR SWOTS see an earlier post CSR SWOT – discover risk, value and more or contact me directly (wayne at csrtraininginstitute dot com)

Friday, 13 May 2016

A secret door to sustainable competitive advantage

CSR and Business Innovation Strategy and Training

Society is demanding more of business.  So are shareholders.  And often governments too. These expectations will keep growing and businesses and organizations that don’t adapt will struggle to survive.  Those that figure it out can create a sustainable competitive advantage that can help drive profits and success.
Business innovation coupled with strategic corporate social responsibility can help find ways to align business and societal value, creating sustainable competitive advantage and game changing go-forward strategies.
Traditional thinking too often pits societal expectations against corporate profits creating a zero sum game that not only destroys value but also sucks energy and vitality from organizations.
The CSR Training Institute specializes in helping businesses and organizations to innovate and develop strategic approaches that can align societal and shareholder expectations.  Through customized training programs and strategic and advisory services the Institute can help organizations find that sweet spot where value is created for shareholders and stakeholders.
Bespoke training programs integrate theory and practice in ways immediately applicable to current business issues and opportunities.  Sessions are customized based on the needs and interests of the company and participants.  They are then re-calibrated on a daily basis to follow the energy and interests of the group, enabling the training to match real-world challenges and opportunities.
A valuable side-benefit is the team-building that naturally occurs during the session.  Programs include participants from across organizations; from departments that seldom have opportunities for engaging collaboration.  The focus on business innovation, strategy and social responsibility serves to bring together strategic and personal interests that would seldom meet in business as usual situations.  Participants leave with shared experiences and vision and a commitment to collaborating on innovation.
Participants and organizations consistently notice post-training outcomes like
  • Business wide strategy
  • New thinking and organization-wide energy to address key non-market business issues
  • Sustainable competitive advantage
  • Improved teamwork and organizational energy
  • Identification of new opportunities
  • Improved employee engagement and commitment
If you are interested in discussing how we can assist your business through training, strategy and advisory services and an integration of both please email Wayne Dunn at

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

CSR in the Middle East & North Africa

CSR in the Middle East & North Africa is dynamic and exciting.  It is built on centuries of Islamic tradition and principles and evolving rapidly to meet the business reality of the 21st century.
I was recently interviewed on CSR in the Middle East and North Africa and thought my responses might be interesting for some.  The transcribed interview is below.
For any that are interested in CSR in this region you will want to take in the ta’atheer MENA Social Impact and CSR Forum in Dubai (May 22-25, 2016).   I will be Chairing the Summit and delivering two post-summit bootcamps.

If you are interested there is a 20% discount available for my blog readers.  Contact me for details

Do you agree that the term CSR is outdated and the region is now moving towards sustainable social impact? 
CSR, Sustainability, Social Responsibility, Social Impact and other phrases are all attempts to put words and phrases around society’s increasing expectations on the role of business in society (and society’s increased ability to impose those expectations on business). 
None of the words and phrases are able to perfectly capture this phenomena, this evolving reality in the space where business meets society.
I’m not convinced that focusing on the language is terribly helpful (although it isn’t unhelpful).  To me, what is more important is focusing on how societal and shareholder value can be efficiently created in the space where business meets society.

In your opinion, what is Social Impact Investment and how would you explain it’s context in the Middle East?

Middle East CSR/Social Impact Investing is evolving from pure charity and philanthropy to more strategic approaches which include Social Impact Investing and increased consideration for linkages with business and shareholder value.
My understanding of the phrase and the drivers of the discussion is that it has more to do with the growing realization that simple charity and philanthropy doesn’t fully meet society’s evolving expectations of business, nor does it fulfil business’ responsibility to its shareholder to use business resources in the interests of the business.

For many Middle Eastern businesses CSR and Social Impact Investing are evolving from the more traditional Zakat and Sadaqah [while Zakat is obligatory, Sadaqah is voluntary]
Zakat, Sadaqah and other societal support has traditionally taken more of a philanthropic or charitable approach; a transfer of money and resources from business to social needs and issues with limited attention to sustainable impact or business value.  That is changing.
Middle Eastern businesses are feeling the financial pressures that are the reality of recent years.  They are dealing with margin and profit squeezes and reduced amounts of discretionary capital.  At the same time many now have global project and ownership partners that are questioning the traditional philanthropic and charitable spending.
Society expects business to be engaged with key societal issues.  Business has to learn to meet these expectations in ways that integrate business and societal value.   Social Impact Investing, as well as more strategic approaches to CSR are approaches that enable better alignment of societal and business interests.
But, this should not be taken to mean that philanthropy and charity are wrong.  Just that they need to be looked at in a broader, value-focused context that considers societal and shareholder value and impact as well as sustainability.

What are the latest 3 trends you are seeing in how organisations are adopting sustainability and social impact in the region?

  • Growing awareness of the need for more strategy and focus on results, rather than simply supporting projects and programs
  • Tensions between partners as family owned businesses engage with international partners and investors who have more focus on linking CSR and Social Impact investing to business interests
  • Increasing use of partners and collaborators including from civil society, governments and international interests

What is the role of social entrepreneurship in the social impact space? 

It’s all about social entrepreneurship.  It is about innovation and motivation to be more efficient at creating, delivering and capturing value.  In this case it is societal value.
Social entrepreneurship helps to identify and lead new opportunities and helps to make old opportunities more efficient.
For any that are interested in CSR in this region you will want to take in the ta’atheer MENA Social Impact and CSR Forum in Dubai (May 22-25, 2016).   I will be Chairing the Summit and delivering two post-summit bootcamps.