Unsafe living conditions, lack of resources and education, lack of community, an air of desperation, seeming invisible to the world – These were the ways my classmates and I described poverty to guest speaker Dr Eliada Griffin-EL.
Today was the first time in a while that the eleven of us met at Sennot Square in casual garb. No business visits, no presentations; the calm before the storm. This morning we had a discussion about Corporate Social Responsibility (hereafter shortened to CSR), which is a management system that includes social, moral, and ethical responsibilities to the public. One major economist believes it needs to be updated because, “the prevailing approaches to CSR are so disconnected from strategy as to obscure many great opportunities for companies to benefit society.” He lists four commitment levels: having a basic value proposition, sustained stakeholder cooperation, possessing an understanding of broad social issues, and showing proactive ethical leadership.
Following this discussion we were greeted by the first guest speaker of the day, the aforementioned professor from Robert Morris University. Our first challenge was to try to define a social enterprise. My personal definition was, “the process of creating solutions by working with the community in order to help everyone.” While I like how I phrased it, the “official” definition definitely does a better job. “A process involving the innovative use and combination of resources to pursue opportunities to catalyze social change and/or address social needs.”
After that we were challenged to define poverty, the results of which can be found above, and settled on the decision that it is the absence of freedom. The primary goal of a social enterprise is to unlock that freedom for people. They go about this by restructuring institutions, creating and using markets for social change, including the marginalized, addressing intangible poverty, and democratizing capitalism. Obviously, this is a process dramatically simpler in words than actions, which is why it is so difficult to be an entrepreneur focused on helping. I appreciated Dr Griffin-EL’s closing statement that we have far too much at stake to worry about what falls into the social enterprise category and instead ought focus on increasing how much we focus on society.
Our final guest speaker of the day was Dr Ray Jones, who gave us a very simplified version of the Myers-Briggs test. I’ve taken the full test before, so I know that I am an INFP-T, but it was interesting to see all of us segmented into a mere four categories, represented as colors. We then discussed what our personalities meant for working as a team on our big projects for tomorrow. The ViewFinder team is composed of two oranges, very competitive and headstrong individuals, a blue, individuals who can mediate and calm others, and a green, intellectual individuals. Dr Jones liked our composition, saying that while we may have difficulties, we had a good mix to overcome it. By overcoming the friction, pleasure from being in the group would allow us to excel.
Sure enough, during our work after class, we had a few disagreements. Overall, though, we were an effective team and we were all happy with how our presentation has turned out. I look forward to the presentation tomorrow and I am proud to be on the team.