Announcing the Joan Bavaria Awards
I am a battered boss. One of our employees, who will remain nameless, has cajoled, flattered, and even threatened me to write on a certain topic in this quarterly newsletter. The threatening person in question reports directly to me, so the fact that she gets away with it is a function of something in my childhood I’d rather not examine. To give you a sense of what I’ve experienced, here’s a direct quote:
“If one of us writes about it, it will be in that overly serious, honorific tone that you seem uncomfortable with (although of course, who isn’t secretly honored & uplifted by public acclaim?) and that you’ll get enough of during the Ceres conference when the award winners are announced. Only YOU can write about this with the perfect mix of humility and gratitude befitting such an honor.”
So as directed, I am announcing the first annual Joan Bavaria Awards for Building Sustainability into the Capital Markets. The awards will be presented at the Ceres 2008 Conference to be held April 29-30, 2008 in Boston. Failure to covet “honorific tones” does not dim my enthusiasm for these awards, the topics are so important to me. The awards were invented by a group of employees led at Trillium by Blaine Townsend and an equally great group of Ceres staff members.
Two awards may be given each year. The Impact Award will go to an investor, company, or nonprofit group that has contributed a specific achievement resulting in lasting movement of the capital markets from a system focused on short-term profits toward one that balances financial prosperity with social and environmental health. The Innovation Award will go to an investor, company, or nonprofit group whose recent work has the distinct potential to be a catalyst for long-term change of the same kind.
The point is to encourage people to think about how to make our economic system more sustainable. Many awards focus on corporate or individual specific achievements. In contrast, these awards will be given to those visionaries have examined how capital markets are working and found a way to change expectations, outcomes, rules or customs beyond their own company or organization that encourage collaboration, far-sighted planning, compassion and fairness. The panel of judges is brilliant, thoughtful and dedicated.
This year we have watched yet another “bubble” burst on Wall Street. When the dust has settled, we will again know that much of the bubble was driven by greed – greed that awards the accumulation of money with no thought about the impact the process is having on ordinary people, the larger system long term, or even their own organizations. Smart people are afraid to jump off the train until everyone crashes at once.
Yet there are some great things happening, too, and it’s on the great things that the awards are designed to focus. You can find out all about them at http://www.ceres.org/bavaria_awards. And, of course, if you have someone you would like to nominate, the instructions are on the web sites.