Friday, June 12, 2009

Beyond Global Compact

Beyond is the new buzz. Yep. It's here to stay. Beyond now. Beyond today. Beyond signifies that infinite space of possibilities that create our collective sustainable future. (geez, did I overdose on Cherry Garcia or something? Doesn’t that sound pathetic?) Well let me explain…
I just returned from 3 days attending an ILO workshop and the Human Rights working Group meetings of the United Nations Global Compact in Istanbul. I will be blogging about this in more detail over the next week or so, so stay tuned. But my first of many is about the Beyond buzz. This is the new word to describe everything positive, innovative and sustainable.

Go Beyond

Allow me introduce you to Mas Holdings and the MAS Go Beyond program. This is the brainchild of the most charming and accomplished man, Mr Ravi Fernando, whom I had the privilege of meeting this week in Istanbul after our cyber acquaintance. Ravi was until recently the Director Corporate Branding & Strategic Sustainability at MAS Holdings Ltd. MAS Holdings is one of Sri Lanka’s largest apparel manufacturers, employing more than 45,000 people in 28 factories in several countries and annual revenues of US$700 million. 5 years ago, Ravi started out on a path of empowering the women of MAS to "Go Beyond". 80% of MAS employees are women. MAS are leading bra manufacturers. (It turns out that bras are pretty complicated to make. A bra has between 20 and 48 parts, including the cups, lining, bands, straps and hooks. No wonder they are so darn uncomfortable! Perhaps we should have burned them after all….). Anyhow, the MAS program is based on supporting career advancement, strengthening work-life balance and rewarding excellence. It has changed the lives of many women and empowered them to go beyond to "transcend hardship and adverse social conditions to achieve great heights". The program has been an unrivalled success, the subject of two INSEAD case studies (link here for abstract) . Ravi presented me with a wonderful book published by MAS Holdings, containing very moving stories of 95 women who have suceeded with program. The book is sold and proceeds go to the Go Beyond program. Here are some quotes from the Go Beyond women:
  • "Pushpa's mother died from complications at childbirth, and her life has been a struggle almost from day one. Tragically at just 13, she became a child bride, given in marriage so that she would no longer be a burden on her family…." Pushpa has also survived cancer of the throat. She is now a Line Leader at Mas Active.
  • "It chills the soul to imagine the despair that could drive a mother to abandon her baby, and it is almost incomprehensible that anyone could have left an infant at the foot of a rubbish dump, where baby Dhamnika was discovered by a passing stranger …." Dhamnika is now a Line Leader at Mas Slimtex.
  • "With her mother away working in the Middle East, it was Suweeja and her brothers who built their house. The children made the bricks themselves, carrying buckets of water from the village well.. " Suweeja is now an operator at Mas Leisureline

It's hard to do justice to this program in a short blog post, but it is breathtakingly awesome. (Link here to a paper published by IFC )

Beyond Monitoring Working Group
This is a working group led by BSR and participating companies in the UNGC network to review monitoring procedures in the supply chain.which, by and large, have not created the improvements that heavy investments in monitoring should merit. The group has come up with proposals which are currently being reviewed and finalized so I won't share them here, but watch this space, as there are some exceptionally sharp insights and process improvements to drive a more effective way of creating sustainable supply chains.

Beyond Essential
The term used by BLIHR in a publication introducing the Human Rights Matrix which is a web-based self-assessment tool, to support companies understanding human rights and manage human rights programs and performance. Beyond essential (see this for the essentials) is essentially (oops!) beyond compliance, a term we're all used to by now, right ?

Beyond Business
No surprise that this term was very popular indeed. Every time I introduced myself in each of the different sessions, and to a whole host of impressive people I met over the three days, I said Hello, I am elaine from Beyond Business. Beyond Business is the name of my consulting firm. Hah! A plug!

So which Beyond came first ? We won't be so presumptuous as to think that Beyond Business was the inspiration for all the other beyonds, but we are certainly very happy to be up there in the buzz.

Any yes, you've guessed it, B&J's next flavor is most definitely going to be…..
Beyond Chunky Monkey!

Stick around for more from the Global Compact meetings……

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm based in Israel. Visit our website at:

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