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A Changemaker's Perspective: 7 Distinguishing Moments of 2011

Despite what you think, 2011 was more about hope than despair, writes CSRwire CEO Joe Sibilia.

Submitted by: Joe Sibilia

Posted: Dec 29, 2011 – 12:01 PM EST

Series: 2011 in Retrospect: CSR and Sustainability News, Views & Trends

Tags: csr, iran, conscious capitalism, sri, esg, csr reporting


The face of despair saw the smile of hope and decided to change its mind.

The Arab Spring cast a global light on the shadows of capitalism and inspired action.

Transparency finally helped us understand the role of the Federal Reserve

Principles for a new economy emerged center stage.

Shifting capitalism moved from the classroom to the boardroom.

Technology, youth, energy, experience and wisdom gathered to open our eyes to a promising future.

And there was more.

The New Iran: Humility in Sacrifice

By far my favorite event in 2011 was CSRwire’s involvement in The New Iran Underground-Comes-To-NYC movement. A group of dissidents, business executives, scientists, government officials, gays and lesbians, unemploThe New Iranyed and educated youths, soldiers, women and children, all at great personal risk, are gathering together for a peaceful overthrow of a dictator in an effort coordinated with healthy doses of technology, and a whole lot of passion and courage. This willingness to sacrifice their lives for freedom was humbling.

The New Economy: What That Means for the Fed & Wall Street

David Korten finally helped me understand the role of the Federal Reserve Bank. While I was a director of The Bank of Western Massachusetts (a role I played for many years), we would ‘Borrow Fed Funds,’ lend them out and make money in the process.

Today, the Fed has committed trillions of dollars (at zero interest) to banks and businesses globally.  This money was shipped across the street and invested in Treasuries at interest rates of one to three percent, and therefore, magically created more money. Out of nothing. I’d want in on that deal but the point is that today we still don’t know what qualifications are required for the Fed to consider you worthy of its funds. 

However, conducting a one-year audit helped us understand what the bankers were doing with our tax dollars: Helping out their colleagues and businesses without any built-in accountability.

This will change.

CSRwire Talkback’s Exemplary Thought Leaders: Our Best Kept Secret

If you want to get a real clear picture of what a new economy would look like, just take a look at the series on CSRwire’s Talkback.  The series includes well-thought out ideas and marks the only place for intelligent, cogent, innovative points of view on the principles for a new economy.  Our blog series, our extremely accomplished cohorts of contributing writers and authors and editors are still one of our best-kept secrets.

CSRwire Talkback

That’s changing too.

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder: Dynamics Are Shifting

Earlier in the year, I was invited to a private multinational company stakeholder meeting.  One of the world’s largest companies presented the ‘business case for sustainability’ that had been recently presented to their board.  The deck was filled with resources, studies, surveys, and formulas, from over a 30-year period. 

I've lived long enough to see studies reflecting results that are decades old. 

The president of Bloomberg participated in an ESG meeting, gave away the food, provided the space and engaged. The global sustainability officer of McKinsey visited our offices to conduct his own internal audit. Today, we are in the boardroom, at the table, presenting our case and its being heard.

That’s a change.

The CSR Directory: Growing in Scope

CSR DirectoryMichael Kane’s business and society highlights (CSR Directory) continue to add organizations, international business policy organizations, national business organizations, corporate initiatives, human rights and labor organizations, environmental organizations, investor organizations, foundations, partnerships, accountability and monitoring collaborations, public policy organizations, academia, trends and surveys, new publications in broadcast media and film, new newsletters, blogs and books. 

His directory is truly exhaustive and we are proud to host his lifelong effort.

The Terminology Debate

The debate over the words we use to describe anything outside the scope of single bottom line investments (socially responsible investment, green investments, impact investing, responsible investments, ethical investments, etc.) continues to raise awareness.

CSR Reporting

India took a lead on social and environmental guidelines and forced large cap company reporting and Istanbul created a Sustainability Index for their stock exchange.

We’re seeing movements advance all across the globe, despair defeated, youth thriving, and research showing how media coverage plays a positive role in influencing pro social company behavior.

I believe we are perfectly poised for a great year of growth full of introspection, holistic goal setting, measurable progress, a collaborative mindset, sustainable strategies and a renewed sense of right.

Do you?

Next: In our final segment, CSRwire's Editorial Director Aman Singh asks: Can CSR and Sustainablity professionals become a community for change in 2012?


2011 in Retrospect: CSR & Sustainability News, Views and Trends

Pat VI: Top Seven CSR Stories of 2011: Haloes and Horns

Part V: Top 10 CSR Moments of 2011: A Slideshow

Part IV: What's Ahead for 2012?

Part III: Will SRI Occupy Personhood in 2012?

Part II: What Luxury Brands Teach Us about Sustainability

Part I: CSR in the News

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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