In the lauded book New Power, authors Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms observe that we are in a period of transformation from old to new power. Old power is closed, inaccessible and leader driven. New power is open, participatory and peer driven. They believe the battle between old and new will be the defining feature of society and business in the coming years.
Some of the values of new power – networks, collaboration, sharing, inclusion and radical transparency – sit at the heart of leading sustainability approaches and are reflected in evolving approaches to corporate engagement.
We are seeing a shift from companies using insights from NGOs, customers, suppliers, innovators and policymakers to help them understand what environmental and social issues matter most to bringing this intelligence from the outside in to create products and services that are not only good for environment and society but will ensure the future commercial success of the business.
This kind of activity, while still only marginal, is a further step towards sustainability and business becoming one and the same. We see some powerful examples in this issue of Radar of organisations starting to build relationships and networks that are inclusive, participatory and collaborative.
Stanley Black & Decker is partnering on a solar pump project that is helping the company create business value through a positive social impact; energy companies are working to ensure the transition to renewable energy benefits the many, not just the few; and businesses are co-creating products that can support peacebuilding in fragile post-conflict communities. This is where leading engagement practices are headed. Focused on fundamentally changing corporate strategies and business models, this engagement is a further step towards a truly sustainable economy.