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Aust company wins UN award

Reported by Paul Mulvey
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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Being a good corporate citizen doesn't mean being a poor corporate citizen.

And Australia's corporate giants can take heed, according to the chief executive and founder of a small business which has been recognised by the United Nations for its ethical and sustainable practices.

Small Giants is the only Australian company among 10 winners announced at the UN Global Compact awards for "social investment pioneers" in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The Melbourne-based company won the Shared Value award which, according to the UN, "recognises companies that seek to create social and business value through re-designing products, services and markets."

Chief executive Danny Almagor describes Small Giants as a family investment business that helps fund projects which have the same principles as he and his wife and company co-founder Berry Liberman.

"We're looking for businesses that are actively going to make the world a better place," Mr Almagor said.

But changing the world doesn't mean you have to suffer financially.

"You can do good and make money at the same time," he said.

"It's not a conflicting concept."

Backed by an inheritance left to Ms Liberman whose family was listed by BRW this year as being worth $2.2 billion, the couple set up Small Giants five years ago and now have around a dozen projects in their portfolio, ranging from organic tampons to an eight star eco-development, a magazine and affordable childcare.

But Mr Almagor believes consumers can drive change by making an ethical choice at the supermarket every day, while corporate leaders must do more than simply go through the motions of being seen to do the right thing.

The UN Global Compact is the world's largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative with over 10,000 members in 130 countries.

Australia has 111 representatives in the group, including the big four banks and giants like Telstra, BHP and Australia Post, none of which are often lauded for their ethics and sustainability.

Mr Almagor questions their presence in the group but says big business has the biggest opportunity to lead change on a global scale.

"They do things that are impressive but they have to be because that's what society expects. But I think it's not consistent with all their actions," he said.

"I do have a question around the emotional intelligence of the leadership.

"The great leaders of our companies have a responsibility to be much more than leaders of just the company."

The Indonesian branch of Unilever fits that bill, also winning an award on Wednesday, alongside a Ghanaian agriculture business, a Mexican restaurant chain and a Spanish finance foundation.

23/09/2014 18:19Sydney, Australia. 23 September,2014
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