Last year, Total Attorneys partnered with Purse of Hope to create the Total Impact House in Uganda. It’s a shelter that provides resources for women who were caught in the human sex trade.
Recently, I traveled to Africa and visited the girls who live in the house. Seeing firsthand the start of a huge change in the girls’ lives; their hope; their laughter; and their appreciation made a profound impact on my wife and me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why philanthropy is so important. As a CEO, I am best able to help the world through encouraging corporate social responsibility. Basically, this concept means relying on corporations and businesses to do the right thing. It includes conducting business in an ethical way, as well as encouraging or even beginning philanthropic projects outside of the business.
Of course, corporate social responsibility has always been an important idea, but it’s even more relevant in the 21st century.
First, technology is making things possible that were never imaginable before. Because of technology, international connections between those who are helping and those who are being helped are possible. This connection is incredibly powerful, makes philanthropy more meaningful, and promotes cross-cultural learning.
The girls at the Total Impact House in Uganda made this video postcard for the Total Attorneys employees in Chicago. Everyone really enjoys getting to know the girls, and they like learning about us, too. Second, acting socially responsible is just the right thing to do.
One of our core values at Total Attorneys is to “do the right thing.” We need more people in the world who believe in social justice.
Finally, corporate social responsibility is important in the 21st century because it lends itself to the idea of a global economy. Countries are becoming increasingly global, in terms of economics.
Paul Collier, in his TED talk on “The Bottom Billion”, says that because of the global nature of our economy, both governments and businesses have self-interest in the development of the bottom billion. Collier says that a combination of compassion and ‘enlightened self-interest’ will solve the problem of global poverty.
Enlightened self-interest is realizing that the economies of other countries (including underdeveloped ones) affect our own businesses/economies. The net of people defined as ‘stakeholders’ in the development of countries such as Uganda is getting wider and wider as the world gets smaller and smaller because of technological advances.
How does Collier’s idea relate to corporate social responsibility? He says that until we have a critical mass of citizens who are informed about global poverty and human rights issues, we will not be able to get serious about developing third world countries. Change comes in many ways.
As a company, Total Attorneys bought a house in Uganda to help women in the sex trade. A side effect of this was the education of our employees and their friends, family, and social network about aid to Africa, human trafficking and empowering women worldwide. Important issues they might not have known about before.
Businesses are in a position to help employees become global thinkers/citizens. Acting responsibly is the first step to this.