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EOC Featured at the 2017 World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum

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civil-society-logoOn Tuesday, April 18, 2017, we had the opportunity to present the Economy of Communion project (EoC) at the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum in Washington DC.

This was the first time that the EoC was featured at an event from the World Bank, a financial institution that is part of the United Nations systems and whose mission is to help reduce poverty.

51 people attended the session representing various NGOs from all over the world, World Bank employees, The International Monetary Fund, and the Bretton Woods Project. The session had the title “Impact Investment as a Tool for Social Development”.  Nick Sanna represented the EoC. The other panelists included Marc Jourdan, the moderator, and Jenna Giandoni, a research fellow from an NGO named the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development that was founded by former president Fernandez of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Muthukumara Mani, a lead environmental economist at the World Bank, also spoke.

New Humanity of the Focolare Movement was a sponsor along with the Global Foundation, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF). Joe Klock, the coordinator of New Humanity, Inc. in the US, is quite active in promoting the EoC at the UN and deserves all the credit for assuring our participation in the event.

IMG_1282The audience responded well to all the presentations that were followed by a very active Q&A session. Some asked questions on impact development and Nick fielded several questions on the EoC. At the end of the meeting, several persons came forward and asked Nick for follow-on meetings in DC. One attendee asked to get involved and will try to attend the upcoming EoC Summer School. The next day, Joe Klock’s contacts from the UN in New York told him that they enjoyed the EoC presentation very much, especially noting the concrete examples that were given.

Joe also attended a session for faith-based organizations chaired by the leader of the World Bank’s Global Engagement faith initiative, Adam Taylor with about 25 attendees. Apparently, the World Bank is starting to engage civil society and faith-based organizations to look for insights into what delivers results in leading people out of extreme poverty. They see these organizations as a vehicle for communicating with people at the grassroots level. Joe plans to continue participate in those meetings and promote the EoC and other New Humanity projects as models of socio-economic development.

The Civil Society Policy Forum have become integral part of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring and Annual Meetings that bring together 10,000 from all over the world.

Learn more about the Economy of Communion by attending the EoC Summer School (June 20-23) and Annual Meeting (June 23-25). You can get more information and register here.

 

Video of ‘Business Practices of the EoC’ panel at St. Bonaventure University now available

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“This was the best presentation about business ethics I have seen in my four years here. It was realistic.” (student)

“I thought that today’s panel presentation was very well done, and exactly the kind of perspective to which we should be exposing our students. It was right on in terms of our mission: Developing responsible leaders for the greater good and the bottom line.” (faculty)

These were some of the impressions from the circa 150 students and professors of St. Bonaventure University that attended the panel discussion on ‘the Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’ on April 6th, 2017.

If you didn’t get to go and want to watch it, you can access the video via this link.

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You can review the agenda and the profile of the speakers here, as well as pictures from the event.

April 6, 2017 – Live Streaming of Panel Discussion on ‘Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’

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Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.02.22 AMA panel discussion at St. Bonaventure University on Thursday, April 6, will address business practices of the Economy of Communion, an international business and societal model based on shared profits and a “culture of giving.”

The program, a presentation of the William C. Foster ’62 Center for Responsible Leadership in the School of Business at St. Bonaventure, in partnership with the university’s School of Franciscan Studies, will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Rigas Family Theater of the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

The Economy of Communion (EoC) was started by Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, in response to the social problems and imbalanced economy she found on a visit to Brazil in 1991. Today, some 860 EoC businesses in more than 50 countries embrace EoC’s alternative to capitalistic systems: a sharing of profits to help combat poverty and indigence, and a commitment to work toward a common good.

It’s a topic that fits a Foster Center initiative of providing our students with leadership and scholarship opportunities in the Franciscan tradition, said Dr. Michael Gallagher, assistant professor of finance at St. Bonaventure. “The Economy of Communion embraces these very ideals, and seeks to promote a fraternal economy, a new conception of economic behavior, with businesses not only sharing profits and community productivity, but fighting various forms of exclusion, poverty and indigence,” he said.

It’s also a topic ripe for the times, said Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M., Cap., dean of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure, executive director of its Franciscan Institute, and one of four experts on the panel.

“Ever since the November elections, budget talks have swirled around increased defense spending and tax cuts for wealthy Americans with large-scale cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels and Medicaid. Some economists are forecasting a rise in income inequality and a ‘class warfare’ between the rich and the poor over the next few years,” said Couturier.

“This discussion will introduce several different economic models to understand our financial issues. We will invite participants to get to know several ‘economies of communion’ and ‘relational economies’ that might help navigate these turbulent economic times with our social, cultural and family relationships intact,” he said.

Couturier, who earned his Ph.D. in pastoral psychology and organizational studies, has written and lectured extensively on the organizational and economic dynamics of religious and not-for-profit institutions. Known for his combined expertise in organizational development, strategic planning and Franciscan education, he has worked as an organizational consultant for congregations, religious communities and dioceses through the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Joining him on the panel is a professor who has spent a decade researching the business practices of companies in the Economy of Communion, as well as the heads of two EoC businesses:

  • Dr. John Gallagher, professor of management, who teaches strategic management and international business at Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn., as well as executive MBA courses at the University of Tennessee. He previously spent more than 20 years as a corporate executive and consultant in manufacturing and service industries. He is co-author of the book “Structures of Grace: Business Practices of the Economy of Communion.” (New City Press, 2014.)
  • Nicola “Nick” Sanna, CEO of RiskLens, a provider of cyber risk management software, and the former head of several internet analytics and security companies. Fluent in five languages, Sanna lectures extensively on the subject of social entrepreneurship and is an advisory board member of the School of Business and Economics at Catholic University of America.
  • John Mundell, president and CEO of Mundell & Associates, Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., an earth science, environmental and water resources consulting firm founded in 1995 as part of the EoC. Mundell serves on the International and North American EoC commissions, aiding development of the EoC at the national and global levels.

Admission to the April 6 event is free and the public is welcome. The panel discussion will be available for real-time viewing and archived for future viewing on the university’s Ustream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/st-bonaventure-university-live-stream.

The Foster Center for Responsible Leadership is made possible through an endowment gift by Daria L. Foster, Managing Partner of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC, honoring her late husband of more than 30 years, William C. Foster. A member of St. Bonaventure’s Class of 1962 and Fordham Law School (’65), William Foster practiced law for 35 years, retiring in 2000 as senior associate counsel for Champion International. He served on St. Bonaventure’s Board of Trustees from 2008 to his passing in 2010.

Learn more about the panel discussion and about the Foster Center for Responsible Leadership at www.sbu.edu/fostercenter.

 

This article was first published on St. Bonaventure’s website on March 28, 2017. 

Meeting with Pope Francis

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by Jim Funk

31938707243_712b0fa5d6_oI never imagined I would get a chance to meet with the Pope.  When I got the invitation, I thought maybe I was dreaming. As the owner of a business in the Economy of Communion (EoC) network, I’ve run my business striving to follow principles that keep the person in the center of what we do, serve the common good, and attend to the needs of others. Pope Francis has been interested in the success of the EoC model, which is why he invited EoC entrepreneurs to meet with him at the Vatican in February 2017.

Although you may be thinking that the EoC is only relevant for Catholic or non-profit businesses, that’s definitely not the case.  Rather than focusing on religion, the EoC upholds principles that can (and should) apply to all businesses. In the meeting, we discussed how we can drive this message home and make a real impact in the world.

In short, Pope Francis was calling for a new economy. He put the challenge this way: “We must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system. Imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.” (Click here to read the full text of the Pope’s speech.)

Pope Francis started out by acknowledging that contemporary culture does not typically put the words economy and communion together. But he told us that by introducing into the economy the “good seed” of communion, we have begun a profound change in the way of seeing and living business. He said business can edify and promote communion among people, and that the economy becomes “more beautiful” when it’s comprised of the communion of goods, talents, and profits.  Pope Francis went on to say, “Money is important, especially when there is none, and food, school, and the children’s future depend on it. But it becomes an idol when it becomes the aim.” My takeaway from these words is that money must not be an end in itself, but rather a means for individuals and communities to flourish—for people to be able to use their talents to work toward creating good products and services.

In describing the responsibilities of business leaders, the Pope said we need to ensure not only that our profits are used for the good of others, but also that we as leaders give of ourselves. He made it clear that money is only part of the equation. What he said is needed most is our spirit, respect, humility, and a desire to change the structures of the economy.

How can we do this? The Economy of Communion provides five principles for businesses that are a part of their network to follow:

  • Build sound relationships based on mutual respect, care, and open communication
  • Foster participative environments by promoting teamwork and encouraging innovation, creativity and responsibility
  • Build cohesive and healthy organizations
  • Adapt the highest ethical standards
  • Voluntarily share business profits to provide direct aid for people in need, and to develop educational projects to foster a culture of giving

Actually, there are many businesses beyond the 850 or so members of the EoC that follow principles like these, and that have similar statements listed in their mission and core values. And as I have reflected on the message of Pope Francis since returning to the U.S., I feel he was speaking not only to Economy of Communion businesses, but to any business that strives to produce goods, services, and work that are “good” for people and for the world.

How is this accomplished? In every organization, it is the leaders who establish the mission, vision, values, strategic goals, and objectives to produce the desired results. While these leaders must obviously be competent and capable of driving results, I would maintain that they also must be “holistic leaders.”

Holistic leaders bring their whole selves to their leadership role, and they integrate their characteristics into the way they lead. They lead with moral character, humility, justice, compassion, transparency, trust and authenticity, as well as with the absolutely critical functional competencies that lead others to achieve results. These leaders also have the heart of a servant—that is, they have a natural desire to serve others, and to focus on people and their needs.

IMG_1251bThese are the leaders, in my view, who can walk the talk when it comes to implementing these principles, and who can produce the communion of goods, talents, and profits that Pope Francis referred to. But it requires not only a willingness to give; it involves the gift of the entrepreneur’s own person—the gift of self, as Pope Francis said.

How can you implement these ideas in your leadership, or your business?

  • Consider what resonates with you about these ideas, and what would enhance your leadership or your business. Which of the principles discussed by Pope Francis and the EoC would you like to incorporate?
  • You may wish to revisit your mission and values statements, and then identify new strategies or action steps that would align with your mission and values.
  • Learn more about the Economy of Communion, and consider joining. Click here for information.
  • Plan to attend EoC North American events for entrepreneurs and others interested in learning more about the EoC. (Click here for information)
  • Click here to view a short (3 ½ minute) video about the February 4, 2017 meeting of the Economy of Communion with Pope Francis.

Please feel free to respond to this post, or write to me at jim@jlfunk.com. And if you want to spread these business and leadership principles, please “like” and “share” this post!

Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at www.jlfunk.com and www.linkedin.com/in/jlfunk or e-mail him at jim@jlfunk.com.

Registrations are open for the 2017 EOC Summer School & Annual EOC Meeting

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You’re Invited!

Join us at Mariapolis Luminosa in Hyde Park, NY for:

The 2017 EOC SUMMER SCHOOL
From dinner on June 20th through lunch on June 23rd, 2017

The ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NORTH AMERICAN EOC ASS.N
From lunch on June 23rd through lunch on June 25th, 2017

A new vision for the economy and business

In today’s world, globalization presents to us significant challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, and forced migration… All these situations make us question if this is the world we want, if the economy can change for the better.

The Economy of Communion project (EOC) offers a new perspective facing these challenges: a new business culture where free enterprises become the cradle of a culture of giving, that fosters fraternity, social bonds, sustainability, and communion, rather than individualism and profit as an end in itself.

Learn more and register

You can learn more about both events and register at the following link.

The deadline to register is May 26, 2017.

Is Transparency Always a Good Thing?

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by Jim Funk

Businesswoman and question mark on blackboardThe news I received last month was unexpected, disappointing, and maddening. My alma mater, St. Joseph’s College, announced they would be “suspending operations” at their Rensselaer, Indiana campus after the end of the spring semester. This decision was made by the Board of Trustees, based on a dire financial situation at the college that the majority of the members believed could not be turned around. The students, faculty, alumni, and town were all caught off guard. The Alumni Association responded quickly, saying they believe the college can be saved. They are undertaking a major fundraising effort on their own to try and reverse the decision, but only time will tell whether their efforts will work.

There have been criticisms leveled at the Board and Administration for not being transparent about the financial situation, and not acting early enough to properly address the problem. The backlash, and the ultimate result that the school is suspending operations, may be indicators that transparency was needed long before now. The Chairman of the Board recently issued a statement saying that they thought sending out an SOS would have been unproductive. The Board thought that sharing information about the school’s financial hardships would discourage potential donors from giving, rather than encourage them to help. I would also guess there was a lot of discussion about whether students would continue to come to St. Joseph’s if they knew of the financial problems. We don’t know the answer, but we do know that many people are upset, and now the future of the college is in jeopardy.

I know from my years working in Human Resources that there are many situations discussed in the administrative suites and board rooms of companies and organizations—in practically any industry—that beg the question of transparency. When those in charge know certain facts, their communication choices can be critical. For example, in a situation where there are likely going to be layoffs, prudence calls for a well-thought out communication plan that has a clear sequence of steps, timing and messaging. Most leaders easily see why such care and planning is necessary. What about situations that are not so clear-cut, or where there is disagreement among the decision-makers about what information should be shared?

Opening the books: A decision of transparency

I decided to do a little more research on transparency in the business world. I spoke with Anne Godbout, Executive Director of Spiritours, an Economy of Communion business located in Montreal, Quebec. I know Anne to be an honest and forthright leader, so I asked her whether she had ever gone through a time when she found transparency to be a challenge.  It didn’t take her long to think of a situation she recently faced. She told me how her company was not able to meet their financial goals last year, so she had to inform the employees that there would not be a team bonus. Later one of the employees found out that the company had made a significant donation to a charity during the previous year. The employee started telling other employees about it, and suggested it was probably the cause of the financial shortfall that resulted in no bonuses.

When Anne learned of this, she considered sharing the company’s financial records with all the employees—something she had not done before. Of course, a private company has no obligation to open their books to the employees, but she thought that maybe it would help them understand there were other factors involved, and the charitable contribution was not the cause. She worried, though, because she said it’s tricky to show employees financial information that they may not fully understand. Despite the risk of further misunderstanding, she decided to go ahead and review the company’s books with all the employees in order to reassure them and rebuild trust. After doing so, she said she felt right away she had done the right thing. The employees better understood the situation and appreciated Anne’s openness with them. Now she continues to share financial records with them, as she believes they deserve to know more about matters that could impact them, and they deserve to feel trusted. In turn, she finds they trust her more, too.

Holistic Leadership calls for transparencyholistic-leader-competencies-transparent

In my Holistic Leadership competency model, being transparent is one of the nine characteristics that is critical to successful leadership and successful organizations. Holistic leaders are open, honest, direct, and forthright in the way they act and communicate. This doesn’t mean they are indiscriminate with the timing or the information that is shared. Rather, they understand when people are being impacted by certain situations and they willingly share the information that matters at the appropriate time. These leaders communicate clearly in a direct and honest fashion, which earns respect from colleagues.

But is transparency always a good thing?

It is a fair question to ask. Surely everyone isn’t always on a need-to-know basis. How does the leader know when and how to be transparent? Such decisions require the leader to:

1) Take time to reflect on the implications of transparency, and of withholding information;

2) Talk with trusted confidants or other colleagues who can share honest feedback and advice;

3) Display courage in meetings with other decision-makers by speaking up when the decision or the communication plan doesn’t seem right.

Of these three, I would actually list the last one as the most important, and in some ways the most difficult. Courage is not only critical to making good decisions about transparency, but also to the initial decision itself. Leaders must ask themselves: Is the decision the right thing to do? And when we communicate this news, can we do so with honesty and integrity, knowing we made our best decision?

To do what is truly right, there is a sequence, place and time for transparency, so that it does not create unnecessary misunderstandings or pre-empt the elements of a good communication plan.

Going back to my opening story, I hope that St. Joseph’s College will somehow recover from their current financial crisis. I look back fondly on my four years at the institution. I found it to be an exceptional and unique educational experience that prepared me well for my career and my life. I love their motto, “Involved for Life,” which is truly what they teach and encourage in their graduates. If there is an opportunity to take the college into the future, people will expect the leaders to be vigilant about communicating with the transparency that was missing in recent years.

We can all learn from these difficult lessons. Things don’t automatically get better if we avoid sharing bad news. In tough situations, the smartest thing we can do is to consider the people involved and the possible outcomes of disclosing information. Leaders who go through this process will be respected by their colleagues, even when they are faced with delivering bad news.

 

Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at www.jlfunk.com and www.linkedin.com/in/jlfunk or e-mail him at jim@jlfunk.com.

Annual EoC Report – 2016

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The annual report of the Economy of Communion initiative for 2016 is now available in English.

It has been published as an insert in the latest release of the Citta’ Nuova magazine. Its North American counterpart, Living City Magazine,  is publishing a series of articles on the EoC in its upcoming issue.

You review the full insert by clicking on the following link: edc_44-eng-online.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-2-25-21-pm