Suzanne Krook

I conduct research, consulting and communications relating to inclusive business.

Turning knowledge into action

22. Dec 2010

Last week, Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact gave a very interesting talk on the changes he’d seen since the Compact's inception ten years ago. My recent blog on Business Fights Poverty covered his reflections on the evolution from philanthropy to corporate responsibility and now to core business activities. Initiatives such as the Business Innovation Facility are testament to the changing role of business in development and the future of inclusive business.

One of the other changes Kell focused on was the shift in dialogue from the general to the specific. No longer do people need to be convinced of the business case for sustainability, said Kell - research such as Edelman’s Good Purpose study and the recent UN Global Compact/Accenture CEO survey show that sustainability is of overwhelming concern for both consumers and executives.

Instead of looking at whether to do it, the focus is on how to do it. Kell noted that there is a plethora of tools, guides and resources available to help practitioners implement sustainability initiatives. For example, the Business Innovation Facility’s Resources Gateway provides a useful one-stop-shop to help locate relevant information. The International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) helps corporate partners access targeted, relevant resources, contacts and networks. The UN Development Programme has established an excellent database of case studies through its Growing Inclusive Markets initiative and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has compiled a comprehensive list of resources relating to inclusive business.

Knowledge is one thing, but practice is another. At a recent workshop in London, IBLF and the Business Call to Action asked companies how all this knowledge can be turned into practical action. Some suggestions included using web technologies such as videos and content feeds, and providing detailed, honest case studies of both failures and successes.

As a global network of practitioners, it would be great to hear others' thoughts on this. What information and resources do you need? What do you find helpful or not helpful? What is the best way to access information, given that we are all busy people with limited time for reading and reflection? And how can all this information best support effective action on the ground?