Social Responsibility and the Tree
posted on Monday 12 Mar, 2007.
The leaves glistened in the sunlight. I love the way the rustling leaves on our eucalyptus trees catch the light and send it on its sparkling way.
Sitting in a cafe, I was waiting for someone.
The trees stood tall outside…
Birds called as they flitted among the branches. Each tree supports so much life!
Thinking about each tree as an organisation, from a rational viewpoint it supports our lives by providing timber, eucalyptus oil, shade, seeds and seedlings. It takes nutrients from the soil and makes them into the food it needs to survive, in the process producing oxygen which we need to survive.
A tree also supports many other stakeholders, providing homes, resting places, food and sheer enjoyment to many other living beings than just humans. Birds, animals, insects and tiny bacteria flourish within its ecosystem. The price the tree exacts is non-financial. Instead there is a delicate interconnectedness between the tree and its residents, temporary and permanent.
For example the bees and the pollen, a story we learn as children. The tree feeds the bee pollen in return for the bee pollinating its flowers so that the tree can reproduce.
Isn’t this what Social Responsibility is all about? Not a “fluffy” sentiment, but an arrangement of co-existence based on integrity and on kindness – the type of kindness that recognises the right that every living being has to thrive.
An organisation, as a tree, does not exist separately from its people. Rather it exists because of them, all of them. Whether staff, customers, suppliers, people’s needs and desires dictate what an organisation looks and feels like, and therefore what it achieves. Just like all the creatures in a tree’s ecosystem.
So the essence of Corporate Social Responsibility, the focus on treating all stakeholders with integrity and kindness, determines the successful longevity of a tree just as it does an organisation.
Lifting my eyes to the tree tops once more, drinking in the light that flashed from the dark green leaves, I was glad I’d had to wait here.
What an amazing thought!