“I don’t feel I am an activist. I just get stuff done.”
The second, an African proverb, by Lord Michael Hastings (Commander of the British Empire), KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity:
“If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone..If you want to get far, go together.”
Greenbiz’ Melanie Colburn has paraphrased Lord Hastings keynote remarks:
“In a room teeming with do-gooders and change agents, Lord Michael Hastings…asked them to rebalance a society out of control.
Lord Hastings avowed that the single most effective way to change the world is overcoming cynicism – not a product or a business model, but an attitude.
“Do the unexpected,” Hastings’ address beseeched the audience..”Take the view that society’s dilemmas and its resolution are mine.”
“Cynicism erodes our capacity to persist with change, destroys our soul,” said Lord Hastings. He also pointed to the costs of social dysfunction, as represented by the cost of housing the prison population of the United States, $80 billion per year.
He told the story of a blind man in the UK who maps his environment through echolocation to ‘see’, drawing a parallel with humanity’s common need to develop a new set of senses to adapt to the confluence of crises facing mankind..
Lord Hastings..believes that Western society suffers from a ‘tsunami of wishful thinking’ – a culture of free lunch in a reality where no free lunch exists – and that our endemic problems as a civilization can be traced to our success in overturning the once-dominant Judeo-Christian ethic to restrain appetite..
But secularism, while a catalyst for culture and creativity, historically results in an upset of traditional moral values and ethical frameworks that leaves behind a vacuum of social cohesion. The result, as with the Greeks and Romans, is vulnerability to conquest and its own internal collapse.
We need..social cohesion based on common purpose in order to deal with the momentous changes of our times. We need to get there through sacrifice, he suggests, not by ‘signing checks or waving flags’.
What does all this – moral fibere, clarity of values, and an absence of cynicism – have to do with green business? The [conference attendees] are people who authentically feel that society ills and the planet’s problems are not someone else’s to solve, but their own. That takes courage, and courage requires inspiration.
“It is inspiring to be surrounded with a few thousand friends who are willing to let go of cynicism and believe that change can happen,” said Lord Hastings.
Net Impact was founded by a small group of Portland State University MBA students in 1993.
The goal is to mobilise a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in their workplaces and the world.
Executive Director Liz Maw said in opening comments,
“This conference is about helping you come up with your own sustainability and impact plan. We want you to Occupy Wall Street, but from the inside.”
2600 attendees from around the world committed to making a difference through business. Corporate CEOs, self-made leaders of nonprofit and for profit social enterprises and public sector innovators inspired participants,
‘to align their work with their values’.