A World Without Kindness: SRI is CrucialYolandaAD
The notion of philanthropy, community connection, employee engagement, giving, investment for impact, and extending a helping hand, have all been turned upside down when Covid hit the world. Many individuals have lost physical touch with their loved ones and replaced friendly pats on the back, hugging, kissing, and handshakes with technological engagement. But has this ‘new normal’ changed the way we deliver kindness to each other, and has it eroded our sense of humanity?
Every day, people across the world show little acts of kindness to each other. This is not the big philanthropic donations that makes the news, but is rather the demonstration of our collective humanity. Unfortunately, in this new Covid world with all its lock-down restrictions, people are limited in the way that they can show kindness. Kindness is not a state of being, it is an act. We are kind by doing kind acts. When this is applied to a company, we can ask: are socially responsible investment initiatives (SRI) delivered with or without kindness?
Companies that give without kindness through their SRI programmes, are not demonstrating an act of humanity, they are instead giving out of obligation, fear, or market demand. If this is their motivation, are they entitled to a reward for their SRI? Investment without kindness is not charity, and it is not SRI either because it is simply a financial transaction with a measured return on investment – or worse, it is recorded as an expense rather than as a brand asset.
What many companies engage in when they claim to be undertaking SRI, is rather giving without kindness. Numerous well-known companies give SRI scraps without humanity or kindness and then trumpet their expenditure with glossy marketing. The danger with this practice is that if we are not careful, we may have an unkind post-Covid world where people are accustomed to living in semi-isolated information bubbles.
In such a world, human contact is limited, and information about opportunities to be kind are filtered. It will then be easy for unkindness to become a new normal. Internally, companies are already finding it difficult to maintain the human contact between employees and customers. As the ‘revolutionary’ part of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ reshapes our societies, there is the risk that the humane rather than just the human part of us is being diminished.
In our increasingly fragmented world, companies can start by finding ways for their employees to share kindness in a safe, controlled space. They can then also demonstrate their social responsiveness with meaningful SRI that demonstrate kindness to help fill the humanity gap left in the wake of our digitized post Covid-world.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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