Saturday, January 28, 2006

Social Responsibility in Davos

I attended a great breakfast this morning on the digital divide. Now, digital divide has been a buzzword for a long time, but we've learned a lot from different initiatives and the ICT industry is very interested in continuing to work on the issue from a lot of angles. This morning's breakfast was a very active discussion with about fifty people from industry, government and NGOs (the nonprofit sector), ably moderated by David Kirkpatrick of Fortume Magazine. Many attendees were CEOs, SVPs and CTOs from their companies, as well as ministers of ICT. The discussions were interesting because groups that are normally at each other's competitive throat are trying to figure out how to advance social issues in the developing world like education, economic development and health, issues that redound to their long term business interests, but are not tied at all to next quarter's results!

Davos rules are that these conversations are off record. Without quoting anyone, I can tell you that people were really excited and engaged. It is gratifying to see the immense brainpower of top leaders figuring out how to drop rhetoric and talk about actual action steps.

I was quoted in a International Herald Tribune article today with a Davos byline entitled A trend with legs as well as a heart. Thomas Crampton has cast a critical eye on corporate social responsibility and does acknowledge that it is a growing trend that is actually part of good business.

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