Seven reasons why you should NOT hire us
(a collection of failures based on 12 years of experience ;-)
- Most recent: I moved to Qatar and several months later also brought my family there, finally we had a market that was „ripe“ for strategic CSR, there was enough money on the market and a general understanding that CSR is something important and due to a national Vision 2030 was supported by the top leadership. When I arrived my partner and myself had a series of meetings with different companies and Ministries and we promoted our services as good as possible. We wrote proposals, concepts, had series of meetings, all went great.
When I moved to Qatar the oil price was just around 100 USD per barrel, there was money galore. As one guy said, “in Qatar it does not rain water, it rains money.” For a CSR event we were promised 5 Million Reals, we just needed to organise something.
A year later the oil price had dropped to under 40 USD per barrel, the companies were laying off people in large numbers, some of the big projects were put on halt, the government cut spending by 40% in the Ministries and reduced the number of Ministries. Suddenly there was no money for CSR at all. CSR managers are laid off, or their budgets cut, sometimes even cut down to zero. Just another episode in my life as promoter of CSR globally.
- South Korea: Lotte is one of those big family run conglomerates in Korea. They run most of the Duty Free Shops, they have hotels, amusement parks and many other things. I was invited by them to be one of the key note speakers at their first CSR conference, organised to show the Government and the Public that Lotte takes CSR serious. Additionally I did a full day training for the top managers of Lotte to explain to them CSR and how it would be done in a strategic manner. Not that the guys were over enthusiastic but it was a good start. The idea of all of that was to get myself positioned within the company as the global CSR expert who would help the company to install CSR on top level and move things in the right direction in one of the large conglomerates.
Two days after the conference Lotte lost the license for a big part of its Duty Free business, the owner family started a legal battle for control of the company, one owner was put in jail for bribery and the whole CSR thing went down the drain. The company is still ridden by fierce legal battles amongst family members.
- Northern Ireland: Dalradian Gold mining company. This is an example of a failure that is probably known to most consultants and it is probably the most frequent reason why my contracts collapsed. Change of Management or change of management strategy. We had a very good work with Dalradian establishing a CSR department, policies, stakeholder engagement etc. Then the company hired a new VP who as one of his responsibilities also had Sustainability. He had come from a mine in Latin America where CSR was all about building schools or roads or stuff like that, not the real strategic approach. But he told top management that they did not need all this stakeholder mapping, the town hall meetings, the sustainability strategies, it would be faster, cheaper and easier just to sponsor the local football club and pay for some charity things. And out we went.
- But it also happens the other way round. The manager we successfully work with for a year or so gets promoted, we believe this opens us the door for even bigger impact, and we suddenly do not get meeting appointments anymore, we are sidelined and no continuation of the work done before happens. This is the case in one of the Ministries we worked in Qatar were the department head even against the will of the Minister hired us, we did trainings, we engaged with stakeholders, we made a gap analysis, presented the report, promoted a software tool and many more things. We were called to meetings for all kind of issues beyond our actual mandate, because the lady trusted us and we advised were we could. Even state policies were developed by us in areas not core to our CSR mandate. Then there was a major reshuffle and the Minister who did not approve our work was exchanged, was gone, the lady we had worked for was promoted to head of a whole directorate and from that day on we did not see her anymore. I till today have no idea why.
- Dubai. 2008. I was just starting to expand from Austria. The Emirates were the first country I opened office outside of Austria. The reason was simple, I had been doing some high level events there organised by ISO and so had met really good people who saw the opportunity to develop real CSR in the UAE and we created a joint venture. I opened office there, all legal things done, even a living permit organised, car organised, family should be sitting on their suitcases to move there. Dubai seemed the right place, there was a huge buzz, based on the property market development, money was around galore, interest for CSR huge. And then the financial crisis started, people were leaving their unpaid cars behind at Dubai airport, the traffic jams disappeared overnight and the interest to spend money on CSR equally. Till today we have not returned with a full office presence, but we have done some nice projects there.
- Dubai II: At a conference in Abu Dhabi I met a guy from RTA Dubai, the Road and Transport Authority, a department of Dubai Government. He wanted to introduce ISO 26000 into RTA. There was no budget but the CEO was ready to approve a special budget so we could get started.. Everything went very well, we even had a person sitting in RTA office on a daily basis to be the link between the company and RTA. The guy got really into it and kicked a lot of asses in the organisation, until he kicked one too many and he was “promoted” to another position, not in charge of CSR anymore, and somebody else came who had no idea of the project, us, the meaning of CSR. Then three months later another person came and finally a short while another person came to be in charge of CSR. We had just finalised the strategy and it needed to be signed off to get our last payment. It took two years to get that signature and our check, because nobody felt responsible anymore. Just to defend the quality of our work, finally we agreed that their assurance company would evaluate our work and based on that the payment would happen. They came to the result that we had done excellent work and we then got our money.
- One sunny summer day in 20013 I landed in Cyprus and next day was the key note speaker at an annual CSR conference in Nicosia. My new local partner had arranged for that and after that we had a number of meetings, up to seven a day with different potential clients who all more or less agreed already in the first meeting that they wanted to work with us, EU regulation about mandatory non financial reporting was already visible on the horizon, CSR was an in topic, everything set to be a success story. A week later, when I left the place I was sitting at the airport and reading the headlines on the TV screen above and the breaking news was that Cyprus was close to being bankrupt as part of the Euro crisis and had been put under the EU financial umbrella to save its economy, the bank we had just met the morning before going to the airport was to be closed by Government, people would not be allowed to withdraw money from their bank accounts and that what was on their bank accounts would be cashed in by the state – the so called haircut. Well, that was the end of the Cyprus journey.
And maybe in a similar but even more bizarre way we failed in Poland. Poland is (was) a strong economy and managed the financial crisis very well. So an obvious place to open our office. We after some trouble found an ideal partner, a company with 40 employees, already into the alternative energy business, mainly solar panels, working with EU funded projects etc. We met several times and made a solid agreement. Then the new right wing government got in and the business climate changed dramatically. In an interview with a German newspaper the new Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the three reasons Europe would fall are vegetarians, solar energy and migrants. Seriously, this is a quote! My partner is in the solar panel business, is vegetarian but no migrant. But she found it very hard to promote CSR under these conditions and asked to put our agreement on ice until the political landscape was more friendly for our approach.