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Global Corporate Citizenship

“In these extraordinary times, greater international cooperation is needed to reverse the global
economic downturn, eradicate poverty, promote security and enhance cultural understanding,”
were the words spoken by Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum in
New York. The world is changing, and with change comes the need for all stakeholders in this
joint venture called planet Earth to hear these ringing words.

With the waning influence of government in social matters as well as the widening democratic
space around the world, there exists a vacuum of responsibility that must be filled. On the other
hand, the role business plays in the society has continued to increase as business leaders play
an increasingly more significant role in the social, economic and political matters of the world.
Arguably, this has led many businesses to wield significant political strength in their respective
countries and globally.

Nevertheless, business and enterprise have always been viewed as running parallel to
governments and social matters. This has been the case for many decades in what was the
golden age of capitalism. Today, more and more businesses are being urged to relinquish that
purely profit-driven stance and embrace more sustainable, socially balanced practices. In support
of this, the conveners of the WEF have described a phenomenon that is fast catching on in the
world of global business: corporate global citizenship.

Corporate global citizenship describes how businesses are required or at least urged to engage
with governments, civil society and other social groups in the areas they operate and to engage
with them as equal opportunity stakeholders. The driving factor behind this is etched in the
mission of the WEF and the postulation of emerging realities that tie in the success of businesses
globally with the social, political and environmental wellbeing of the world. With this in mind,
various business leaders and leading thinkers worldwide are beginning to develop theories and
structures that would enhance and elucidate this principle with more clarity as it is still in its
infantile stages.

Burgeoning from the seed of the less comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate
Global Citizenship goes a step further to include social entrepreneurship. This interesting
reference seeks to explain how people, organizations and businesses can harness social issues
and agendas to develop profitable, sustainable and socially conscious businesses and initiatives.
Coming from a backdrop of profit driven systems, businesses, through forums such as the WEF,
are being urged and sensitized to embrace and incorporate policies and strategies that would see
their businesses not only become more responsible global citizens that contribute more to world
peace, hunger eradication and so on, but also become more profitable. This has been the
unrelenting cause of change agents championing the corporate global citizenship and social
entrepreneurship cause.

Muhammad Yunnis, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, is an
exceptional example of what corporate global citizenship can achieve as well as how businesses
involved in social entrepreneurship can still carry out sustainable and profitable business while
still impacting the society positively. Muhammad Yunnis demonstrated to the world the power
business and enterprise has to change the lives of people and the world and that through the
immense resources controlled by business, matters such as global warming, hunger and poverty
eradication and others can be addressed effectively and conclusively.

The case for corporate global citizenship is made once a year when the leading business leaders
in the world convene at the annual WEF to discuss the possibilities of allying business with
society and government to develop and implement more sustainable and socially,
environmentally and politically conscious policies and initiatives around the world.