New Directions

Carol Guyana


By Gary MacDonald

CSR is dead to us.

Now, I know you may be wondering if that means we are heading in a new direction. Not at all. We just don’t do CSR.

Okay, some people would characterize what we do as working on issues related to corporate social responsibility. But that‘s simply too broad and wooly a term for what we really do.

It’s a truism that what we call things defines the way we approach them. We see it all the time when clients tell us they need us to “fix” a problem in their local community. Or when people affected by project activities are referred to as PAPs.

Over the last two years we’ve been deliberately shifting the language to better reflect what we believe is the real value we bring clients as experts in social performance management. (We’re resisting acronyms for this, but I’m sure they’ll eventually arise.)

There, I’ve said it, and it feels good. Social performance management.

Is it a new direction? No, it’s a matter of managing activities for social impacts with the same rigor as enterprises apply to their operational or financial systems. It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to “manage” social impacts you hired a sociologist or anthropologist who might have been able to guide you to solutions to social problems you were having. Most of the work, unfortunately, was reactionary.

That’s not the case anymore. Social performance management is not what happens when you do an ESIA. It involves creating and implementing a social management system that helps your organization build and maintain effective relationships with your communities. It takes this key input to your business out of the black box: the way you create and live with the relationships you have with your communities.

MFC isn’t the only organization that has been going through these changes. Increasingly, our peers and colleagues have also started to use and develop the language around social performance management. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it as the year unfolds.

Today we’ve launched a new website that reflects these changes. There wasn’t really anything wrong with our old website. It just reflected our thinking as it was evolving more than four years ago.

We’ve tried to keep the same look and feel. But we’ve added new functionality – this blog page, for example – as well as more detail about who we are and what we do here in the Forest.

For now, I hope you like the new website. More to the point, we would love to have your feedback so we can make it better and more useful for you, and to better manage our performance in giving you information you can use.


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