My name is Leanne Case, and I’m the founder and CEO of Vzir Consulting, a company that was set up to try and bridge the gap between social and economic development in the private sector.
Ever since I can remember I have been preoccupied with social equity — justice and fairness — and this has been the driving force throughout my life. In my 20-year career I have been continuously drawn to places where the social impact of economic development is a main concern.
Trained as a social scientist, I worked for many years in advisory roles, looking at how government policy is developed, and projects rolled out. I have an analytical mind, and this helps me to identify what works and then look for ways to improve things that don’t. I have worked in some of the most challenging markets and regions of the world, including post-conflict Afghanistan and Iraq, where I advised governments, international organisations, multinational corporations and SMEs. I am very proud that I was awarded the Iraq Reconstruction Medal in recognition for my services there.
I realised that economic concerns and business profitability are the bottom line that generates development and growth, and that government projects can, at best, help to direct it. But it was also clear to me that any development driven solely by business logic would always produce an uneven form of development that left many people behind. So the aim is to try to marry the two: economic development with a social impact.
This is why I founded Vzir, because I identified a need to improve the social and sustainability management in companies, to help business to find the most effective way to achieve positive impacts or mitigate negative ones. This kind of social impact and performance management is often confused with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and marketing. But it’s not the same thing. It must be an integral part of the business, not just an add-on. I’ll talk more about this in a future article.
Ten years ago I was accused of being a tree-hugging vegetarian for talking about economic development and social performance! But there has been a definite paradigm shift recently, and many CEOs are coming around to the idea of paying greater attention to treating their workforces well, to be a good corporate citizen and contributing to the communities that host them. I hope the current situation will encourage all of us to look at what we need to do to create a more equitable and sustainable society.
In my next article I’ll talk more specifically about what this crisis can teach us about the future of corporate social management — and how we can forge a better future.
Leanne Case CEO and founder of Vzir Consulting