Is the World Economic Forum improving the common good?

Updated: May 11, 2020

By Nadja-Timea Scherrer, Impact Strategist at plus305

The WEF in Davos, Switzerland, is quiet elitist in setting and attendees, at the same time, one of its major themes and mantras has become Corporate Social Responsibility. Critiscs see the forum as having very limited impact on improving social welfare though.

In a Social Forces paper called “International Organizations as Mobilizing Structures" by Oxford Academic, Academics explored "whether the forum is able to improve the social responsibility of its own “strategic partners”— the companies most closely associated with the forum financially and operationally, including powerful global names like Bank of America, Google and Siemens."

Consistent with criticisms of the forum more broadly, we found that strategic partners do much better in terms of talk than action.

What has been most striking is what the academics describe as follows:

"While strategic partners are more likely to broadcast their social activities through the voluntary reporting frameworks of the Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative, they are generally not more likely to have social practices that receive higher ratings from external evaluators, particularly KLD Analytics, Dow Jones, Newsweek and Corporate Knights."

While at plus305, we strongly believe that Greenwashing has to be uncovered and counteracted, we also believe that there is a grey zone in which companies or managers and owners show genuine and authenitc interest in changing their structures and businesses towards a more social and ecological future, but are finding many obstacles on the way. Instead of supporting the "all or nothing mentality", we have opted to support anyone who is truly interested in change and making an impact. Because in our world, every positive change, no matter how big or small, makes a difference.

Which case falls under which category, has to be determined on a case-to-case basis.

Please share with us your opinion below. We believe that opening the discourse about such important and sensitive topics is what is needed to create a future we all want to live in.

Read the entire article "If the WEF wants to change the world, it can start with itself" here.

Nadja-Timea Scherrer, Partner & Global Strategist plus305

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