The role of business in helping to bring about systemic social change by supporting social justice interventions was a key theme at the eleventh annual Trialogue Business in Society Conference, which took place at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on 8 and 9 May. Some 350 delegates representing leading corporates, foundations, universities and media attended the conference.
Inaugural Trialogue research on social justice in 2017 found that only 11% of South African companies support social justice interventions, with less than 1% of corporate social investment (CSI) spend allocated to this issue. ‘A growing number of companies are, however, considering their CSI more strategically and questioning the long-term impact of their efforts’, says Trialogue MD Nick Rockey.
The theme of social justice was presented in partnership with Nedbank, including a panel discussion on ‘supporting social justice’. Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, now Chair in Social Justice at the Stellenbosch University Law Faculty delivered a keynote address on closing the inequality gap: ‘CSI is not about compliance. It is about creating the world we want to live in. When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.’
The conference also featured presentations on stakeholder interaction for social good, presented in partnership with Sasol, and how to harness rapid technological advancements for inclusive social development, in partnership with the Vodacom Foundation.
Stakeholder interaction is a growing trend in responsible business, says Rockey. ‘We anticipate that companies will support ongoing and robust engagement with external stakeholders – such as government, customers and investors – who are included in, or affected by, both business and developmental activities.’
Regarding inclusivity in the digital age, Rockey says: ‘We ask how companies can ensure that their technology advancements are human-centric and inclusive, what is needed to ensure that less-skilled workers in particular cope with this disruption, and how non-profits can leverage technology for improved effectiveness and efficiency.’
Other keynote speakers at the conference included:
Three NPOs also had the opportunity to pitch their projects for cash prizes in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation, gaining detailed feedback and expert advice on how to hone their pitching and fundraising skills:
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