There is a difference between looking and seeing, between hearing and listening, between talking and saying. The question that becomes more important with every turn of the earth is how long we can continue to look, hear and talk without saying, listening and seeing. That the way in which a large part of the human species is dealing with the earth it lives on is not sustainable. That our way of life disrupts and offsets the balance which is needed if one wants to provide a future for next generations. The evidence is abundant; to a large extend because of rapid developments in telecommunication technology. Internet makes the world transparent, although we may not like what we see. Often, looking so carefully in the mirror that is being upheld in front of us that we actually see what is going on hurts. It hurts when you realize which patterns of behaviour we must change in order to make the change towards corporate social responsibility and sustainability. It is not easy to cope with the fact that the way in which we have defined economic prosperity is no longer adequate to manage our future, because it becomes clearer and clearer that vital elements are not taken into account in the equations we use when calculating our wealth or growth.
CSR a necessity
Especially the decline of the value of the natural resources of our planet and all ecosystems present has been neglected. Our economy has been based on linear processes rather than circular ones. Mistakenly assuming that we could endlessly “take” from the earth, we have – albeit: unintentionally! – created an unsustainable atmosphere. An atmosphere in which the necessary balance between “it” (meaning: whatever we do), “I” and “us” is destroyed – or being so shortly. An atmosphere in which short term interests have become so predominant that sight of a longer time horizon is being blocked. An economic structure in which too much energy is being put in privatizing profit, leading to costs being socialized. For Modint it is clear that change towards corporate social responsibility and sustainability is becoming less and less an option – and more and more a necessity.
Questions to be answered
To realize change is a necessity is, in fact, only one part of the solution. It may even be the easiest part. For how do you define “social responsibility” or “sustainability”? Where does it start and where does it end – if it ends at all? How to differentiate between what is “good”, or “true” in this respect, and what is “wrong” or “false”? How to make the change – or even start it? What does it encompass, what does it costs, what are the risks involved and how to avert those risks and transform them into profitable business – but now in a way that lasts longer?
For many people who bare responsibility for, or within, companies associated with Modint, the above is not new. They have not only looked into the mirror, but seen what is there to see. And they have taken action. They started analyzing their way of doing business, looking for options to change. They discovered that it is not only possible to effectuate change in the way they ran their business, but that responsibility and sustainability can very well be matched with economic profit, still very much needed for any company to survive.
Making the change
For other companies, however, the notion change is a necessity rather than an option – and all the related questions – is still new and challenging. Although their number is declining, they still form a majority within the MODINT membership. It is Modint’s aim to support all associated companies and especially those for whom “social responsibility” and “sustainability” still constitute unknown terrain, in making the change.
To that end, Modint has invested, over the past 3 years, in its capacity to assist companies in the area of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
It started by developing a long term view and accompanying general policy lines that match the interests of not only companies associated to Modint, but also of the whole textile and clothing production chain and even society at large.
We have a team of three experts in the field van Corporate Responsibility, our consultant Quality Management & CSR, a project manager Innovatie & Duurzaamheid and a junior consultant. They are true professionals in the field of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. One of their priorities has been to develop, in cooperation with other specialists from MODINT and beyond, the structures and instruments Modint would need in order to be able to support its member companies that indicated they wanted to make the change.
So now we are proud to be able to present the result of their work so far: the services we can offer and the tools we have developed, based on practical experience and often in cooperation with other interest groups and associations. Modint is grateful for the assistance and support it received, especially for the assistance of MVO Nederland and the support of Ministry of VROM.
Modint will continue to develop its ability to support companies in making the change. Suggestions to that effect are welcome, as are critical observations. Because most likely, there is no end to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
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