The role of business in helping to bring about systemic social change by supporting social justice interventions will be a key theme at the eleventh annual Trialogue Business in Society Conference, taking place at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on 8-9 May.
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.
“CSI is not about charity or ad hoc interventions,” he says. “It involves companies examining long term, systemic changes to shift social equity. We will explore how companies can help make the societies in which they operate more equitable, discuss some risks, and how to mitigate these.”
In addition to the social justice theme, presented in partnership with Nedbank, the conference will debate 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 will 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.”
The first keynote address on closing the inequality gap will be delivered by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, now Chair in Social Justice in the Stellenbosch University Law Faculty (Tuesday 8 May 09h15-10h00). Prof. Madonsela is a Paul Harris Fellow, Tallberg Global Leader, the recipient of Transparency International’s Integrity Award, the German Africa Prize and the Commonwealth Lawyers Truth and Justice Award, among numerous accolades.
Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, will discuss business leadership in the current environment (Tuesday, 8 May 1010-10h25).
The potential – and pitfalls – of new technology, and inclusive growth in the digital age, will be introduced by Dion Chang, trends analyst and founder of Flux Trends (9 May 08h45-09h00).
Priya Naik, CEO of Indian social enterprise Samhita Social Ventures, will present on CSR and emerging responsible business trends in India (Wednesday, 9 May 09h00- 10h00).
Three NPOs will also pitch their projects for cash prizes. The organisations are IkamvaYouth, which equips learners from under-resourced communities to access tertiary education and jobs; Siyavuna Abalimi Development Centre, which develops resilient micro-farmers; and U-Turn Homeless Ministries, which helps homeless people gain job and life skills.
“This interactive session, presented in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation, will provide the NPOs with detailed feedback, empowering them ‒ and NPOs in the audience ‒ with expert advice about how to hone pitching and fundraising skills.”
The conference line-up includes 55 outstanding commentators and panellists (see http://trialogue.co.za/speakers/) including Taddy Blecher, chair of the South African Government task team on Enabling Entrepreneurship for the Human Resource Development Council.
Other contributors include Emilar Gandhi, Facebook’s public policy manager for the SADC region; Godwin Khosa, CEO National Education Collaboration Trust; William Gumede, author and founder of the Democracy Works Foundation; Mark Heywood, executive director Section 27; Millicent Maroga, head of the Old Mutual Foundation; and Refilwe Maluleke, MD of Yellowwood marketing strategy consultancy.
Social justice contributors include Equal Education COO Ntshadi Mofokeng and Gauteng deputy head Kholwani Simelane; and Axolile Notywala, general secretary of the grassroots social movement Social Justice Coalition.
Some 350 delegates representing leading corporates, foundations, universities and media will attend the conference. Registration is sponsored by Transnet and an evening networking reception by MTN.
For more information: http://trialogue.co.za/trialogue-business-society-conference-2018/
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