True social investing requires corporates to exercise patience
‘Successful collaboration requires a corporate social investment shift from quick-win projects to long-term systemic interventions’
An interesting billboard is strategically placed at one of the terminal walkways that lead to the doors of the jumbo jets at OR Tambo International Airport. It reads: "It doesn’t take two hours and 30 minutes to perform Swan Lake — it takes 20 years." The billboard was put up by Allan Gray, one of SA’s top asset managers, whose philosophy is premised on patience: it requires time and effort to achieve a good return on investment. So, if corporate SA widely understands this analogy, why do companies expect quick returns from their corporate social investment (CSI) programmes? After all, unlike financial instruments such as equities and bonds, investing in social development has an intrinsic "human developmental" element that requires the management of change. This takes time and effort. Many reasons for this thinking come to mind. This piece outlines at least three schools of thought that exist under the CSI theme. The first, internalisation, relates to CSI being part of a broader co...