By Jesus P. Estanislao
It has been a maxim that one cannot give what one does not have. This is true with life in general; it is also true with governance in particular. That is why an enterprise with a solid and already substantiated governance and transformation agenda is impelled — by a deep sense of “civic duty” and “social responsibility” — to reach out beyond itself. It reaches out to individuals and their families (starting with those individuals who actually work within the enterprise). It reaches out to its own value and supply chains within the sector or area and region. It then caps all up by reaching out to the nation as a whole.
Fortunately, by reaching out, the enterprise gets a positive rebound. It harvests a lot of good will; it actually gets a lot of “good works,” i.e., concrete, practical, transformative outcomes done and delivered. And never to be disregarded is this positive rebound effect: it gets a stimulating effect, by which its own governance and transformation agenda is reinvigorated and given ever-fresher life.
Taking all this into account, it is absolutely important for such an enterprise to keep documenting its governance outreach experience, draw useful lessons from it, and then learn from the many other lessons that other governance enterprises with broadly similar governance outreach programs have accumulated and documented for themselves. By doing so, it would pro-actively write its own code of alliances and social responsibility, which can be substantiated with more experiences and more useful lessons over time. Such a code would highlight, among many others:
- The need for forming alliances. Here, the enterprise is pro-active. It reaches out to those belonging to the same value chain as it does, either in the sector or in the region of most immediate concern. It may even take a lead, and this is necessitated by its need to conduct a gap analysis in the value chain: having to do so is a basic discipline it learns from being a practitioner of governance practices.
- The need for giving flesh and substance to social responsibility. In this aspect, the enterprise plays no second fiddle to anyone; it has to be in the forefront of deeply caring for the wider environment — the sector, the area, the region, or the country as a whole — where it operates. However, it need not play the key and central role all the time. Indeed, it would serve its interests best if it simply becomes part of a bigger consortium, e.g. a multi-sector governance coalition that would take fuller responsibility for wider governance causes.
- The need for finding and strengthening institutional anchors that would provide long-term support and sustenance to key governance initiatives that need to be promoted continuously, such as those related to values formation, skills training, expertise upgrading, and incubation of social enterprises. Ordinarily, although not exclusively, these anchors can be provided by schools at the tertiary level with their deep, operative commitment to the common good of any given sector, area, region, or more broadly of the nation as a whole.
There is already an increasing number of these governance enterprises that seek to sustain and give ever-fresh life to their governance and transformation agenda. All they need to do is to arrange for and support an active forum for exchange on their ever-evolving codes of alliance and social responsibility. Such a forum should enable each of them to learn from each other and give encouragement to each other.
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