”He that gives good advice builds with one hand. He that gives good counsel and example builds with both,” said 16th century English philosopher Francis Bacon. It would seem the UN Global Compact is in need of a second hand.
For Executive Director Georg Kell, UNGC stated values of transparency, dialog and accountability apparently don’t apply to how the UNGC is governed.
In his annual letter to members from January, Kell announced a radical change in the organizations’ funding strategy–shifting its model from voluntary to mandatory membership fees. No dialogue was held with UNGC signatories prior to the decision—not even with its own Local Networks. There was no transparency on why the funding strategy was developed and how the money would be used. His letter was, however, accompanied by an invoice for up to USD 15,000 for signatories with a large turnover.
Though most companies fully understand the need for the UNGC to adjust its income to an ever-expanding organization with an urgent agenda, signatories found reason to question the way the UNGC approached this issue. During a Local Network meeting in Geneva two weeks ago, Kell’s letter was the center of debate and meeting participants voiced the need for an inclusive approach when addressing the organization’s strategic issues.
The epilogue? Kell has since backed down and his proposal has been temporarily suspended. The UNGC is now committed to working with its Local Networks on developing a revised collaborative funding model that is to be presented to signatories in September.
One’s own advice is sometimes the hardest to take, Mr. Kell, but mistakes like these will take years from which to recover. The additional income will come in handy to fund all the stakeholder dialogue you’ll need to recapture the trust you’ve lost over the last couple of months.