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Building togetherness at the Horasis Global Meeting 2017

Business leaders can make a difference through the savvy deployment of money, skills and time. How can we combine wealth creation with social goals, and what's the best way to structure that effort?

Palladium's Esteban Gomez chaired a panel focusing on how philanthropy can make a real difference to society.

Esteban Gomez Nadal, Director at Palladium, recently moderated a panel on philanthropy at the Horasis Global Meeting: Building Togetherness in Cascais, Portugal. Horasis brings together businesses, governments, and thought leaders to find innovative, collaborative solutions for the most critical challenges facing corporations.

The specific focus of the panel was how philanthropy can make a real difference and how corporate social responsibility can move from being a reputational asset, to a differentiator for the most successful corporate strategies. In short, how can social impact become a priority for the private sector?

How is philanthropy changing?
The panellists, representing numerous industries, agreed that the paradigm of philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is changing. In the past, it has been used exclusively as a mechanism to ‘give back’, and ultimately to enhance the reputation of the company.

Now, philanthropy and CSR are evolving from pure public relations tactics to mechanisms that can improve corporate performance, and contribute to the sustainability of business growth. Corporations are realising that creating positive social impact yields positive economic growth for their business. So corporate social responsibility is increasingly becoming embedded into core business strategies – it is becoming a licence to operate.

How can philanthropy be structured to create impact?
The attitude towards philanthropy is changing but to ensure it generates substantial impact there need to more efficient channels guiding resources to the right initiatives.

The needs of emerging markets are not met when philanthropy is employed as a public relations exercise. For social investment and philanthropy to work, it must listen and respond to the needs of emerging markets and empower those within emerging markets to create their own sustainable ecosystems. Businesses, donors, and governments must collaboratively share their experiences and resources to ensure this happens.

José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, reflected on the need to harness the power of globalisation.

How do we take forward a new model of philanthropy?
As the paradigms of philanthropy and business strategy shift, the corresponding skill sets of business leaders, governments, and thought leaders need to become more diverse. Business schools are adapting with new curricula that reflect the changing nature of the impact economy, but much more is needs to be done. The future of business is not just the growth of individual companies; it is about recognising the impact every economic actor has on society, and playing a leading role in making sure that economic growth also means social development.

Positive Impact Partnerships
It’s easy to talk about Positive Impact, but it’s much more difficult to deliver it in practice. What’s even more difficult is trying to tackle a large-scale challenge, like growing inequality or the spread of non-communicable diseases, especially if finding a solution involves working with direct competitors.

At Palladium, we recognise the great challenges that businesses face in assuming responsibility for social impact as well as profit generation. However, solving our global social issues is critical to creating the environment for vibrant and healthy economies. Collaboration across the private sector is essential to tackling challenges all companies face.

We partner with governments, companies and civil society to build Positive Impact Partnerships. These tend to take two forms: Collaborative Alliances bring together public and private players to respond to a particular challenge or opportunity, while Business-led Systems are driven by companies who want to make their business work better for all.

The Horasis Global Meeting 2017 demonstrated the will in the private sector to galvanise business as a force for good. We at Palladium were delighted to lend our expertise and insight. Together we can make it possible.

Click here for the full report from Horasis 2017.