Ang Chomba Sherpa
There is an excitement about the power of social entrepreneurship. Unleashing the power of entrepreneurial thinking on social problems provides “out of the box” solutions after years of “standard” responses these challenges. However, some of the most vocal advocates for social entrepreneurship only extoll the virtues of scalable solutions and game-changing approaches.
There is more to social enterprise than a few large organizations and I want to take a moment to celebrate social entrepreneurs that are working in their own small corners of the world, making real and positive change in communities around the world. Academics have called these social entrepreneurs “Bricoleurs”, from the French word bricolage – because they use what “is at hand”. These social entrepreneurs have deep understanding of the issues they are working on and strong relationships with the people they are working with.
Ang Chhomba Sherpa, chairman of Moving Mountains Nepal, is a social entrepreneur working to improve the lives of people living in the villages of the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. Chhomba and his colleagues at Moving Mountains provide electricity (via a micro-hydro system), healthcare and education (supporting some teachers’ salaries) in small villages. Moving Mountains uses funds generated by its for-profit sister company, Adventure Alternative, to help fund these projects. Chhomba, who is originally from the region, works closely with community leaders to achieve the goal of improving the lives of the villagers. While the scale of this work is focused on a specific region, Moving Mountains and Adventure Alternative have been recognized internationally for their very real impact.
While we definitely need scalable, game changers – like Grameen Bank – that change the “big picture”, many social entrepreneurs in the tourism sector are addressing local issues and creating local solutions. For the people of those regions, social entrepreneurship is delivering on its promise.
Companies wishing to be socially responsible face a world of good and important causes. Over the last few months I have been looking at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the tourism industry and I have been amazed at the wide number of issues that fall under the topic of CSR. Clearly, no company can address every issue – we simply can’t be everything to everyone. Choosing “the fights’ that are important to the company and its stakeholders is critical in managing this process.
A recent article on adding discipline to sustainability from McKinsey and Company is worth a read. I have been a fan of McKinsey and Co since I first read “In Search of Excellence” by McKinsey Alum, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, and find McKinsey’s research and insights useful. Enjoy !
So often, tourism is a “bit player” in the health of a community. In the traditional models of tourism, tour operators come and – at best – the visitors they bring spend money that contributes to the local economy. While the tourism income helps, there is a lot of what economists call “leakage”.
Imagine a new type of tourism company – a company founded for the purpose of enhancing the cultural and economic benefit of the host community. Imagine a social enterprise – like Tom’s Shoes or Ethos Water – that plows back profits from tourism operations into the community itself . This is the model that responsible tour operator Adventure Alternative and its sister charity, Moving Mountains have brought to the villages of Bumburi and Bupsa, high in the Himalaya. Congratulations to Gavin Bate, Ang Chhongba Sherpa and Pasange Tendi Sherpa and their team, for finding a new path for tourism in this special part of the world.
Bain and Company, one of the world’s leading consultancy companies, recently released their report – “Great Green Talent Machine” touting the importance of CSR in recruiting talent. This is the latest in a series of articles and papers highlighting the importance of corporate reputation and values, often best expressed through their CSR activities, as a factor in attracting talent.
So what if you are the “talent”? You are attracted to the company and now you want to work with them. How do you get the job ? What do recruiters from these companies look for ?
As a college professor I know this question is particularly important for recent grads trying to establish themselves in new careers. Fortunately, recent research gives some answers to this important question. In a recent study conducted with Aini Karani, we asked college recruiters from hospitality companies whether they felt CSR was an important factor in recruiting college students. Corporate Reputation was the top reason they listed. CSR ranked 10th in things that recruiters felt attracted students to want to join their company. Interestingly – salary was ranked 13th !
Then we asked what they looked for in new recruits. The results reinforced the importance of attitude, team orientation and communications skills. The study showed that recruiters pay little attention to specific activities but that they are influenced by what they perceive to be the values of the potential recruit.
The full study is published in Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality and Tourism – “Corporate Social Responsibility and College Recruiting in the Hospitality Industry”
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the key drivers of sustainable tourism. The tourism system involves many actors all working to deliver a customer experience. There is little in the way of “top down, command and control” in tourism. So – without the active participation of companies – and the managers that run those companies – it is difficult to imagine the tourism system becoming more sustainable.
In a recent study led by Diana Chan Yu, we examined the drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility in hotels in China. A couple of findings stood out to me:
- Confucianism and commitments to a Harmonious Society provide a solid foundation for CSR in China.
- CSR often starts close to home – with stakeholders that are critical to the company’s operation. Many CSR activities involve staff members and the local community.
- Finally, while many hoteliers don’t necessarily call their activities “CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility” they actively engage in CSR activities – from supporting local environmental initiatives to supporting staff (beyond the letter of the law).
To see the full study – click here.
There is real skepticism that companies can do well and do good. When discussion turns to the socially responsible actions of a company it seems inevitable that the motives of the company will be brought into question. The typical comment goes something like ” sure – they are the greenest company around… but its just so they can save money’. And yet such a situation has be to one an examples of a win-win for the company and the environment.
One of the “new” faces of corporate social responsibility is Sir Richard Branson. He is a successful entrepreneur with a commitment to doing good and making money while he does it. His “screw it, just do it” attitude for solving problems is getting a fair bit of airplay. Here’s a link to the article from today’s ‘Marketplace” on NPR.
Branson on CSR on NPR