I guest lectured at my Alma Mater today. The Monday morning after Halloween, in retrospect, may have been the wrong date to come on :). The students were tired and not active at all, making presenting my fascinating material a little challenging.
After discussing Socially Responsible Investing in general, we got down to what I do on a day to day basis. I introduced some of the larger topics that I work on – financial reform and child labor issues in many supply chains, to name a few. There were 2 astute students who asked questions about how do we make sure that we understand the culture of the problem that we are trying to change, as well as the culture of the people that are affected? Great questions! In fact, these are aspects that I wrestle with and I told them so.
Although I answered the questions and those particular students did not have anything else to add, I left rattled. Do I really have a differing view point to offer? Or am I just another privileged first worlder telling the third world how they should be run, but instead of through government means we work by having corporations develop best practices? Does it matter if I come at this work from a desire to see a more just world, or am I the same as any other person who wants to effect change, no matter that I think it is ‘good’ change?
At the end of the day, I do think that my work produces good. I know in my heart I desire to see a world that is more fair and equitable, a world that relies less on charity and more on just systems. I want the long term to be in the forefront of peoples minds, not just something to idealize.
Off I go, to wrestle with the rattling.