On 22nd February the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI) took part in the fifth annual Social Impact Careers Conference at the Said Business School, Oxford University. The event was organized with the support of the Amersi Foundation. Mohamed Amersi, Founder of the Amersi Foundation, is also a Trustee of the IRI Foundation.
More than ever, people are seeking careers that are purposeful above all else. The Social Impact Careers Conference is a unique forum for such individuals, exploring the diverse global ecosystem of change-making organizations aiming to contribute to a more sustainable and just world.
Over 40 leaders and experts shared stories and insights about navigating a successful career in social impact, and engaged with some 500 attendees through a series of panel discussions, workshops and structured networking opportunities.
Following the welcome address by Professor Peter Tufano (Dean, Said Business School), keynote speeches were delivered by Jacqueline Novogratz (Founder & CEO, Acumen) and Christopher Davis (International Director of CSR and Campaigns, The Body Shop).
In a very inspiring personal introduction to creating sustainable impact, Jacqueline Novogratz presented the manifesto of Acumen:
It starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.
It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.
It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.
It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, and challenges corruption. Doing what’s right, not what’s easy.
It’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.
In his speech, Christopher Davis explained the great potential of ‘systems thinking’ as a tool for realizing and increasing impact. Particularly relevant when addressing complex challenges such as sustainability, systems thinking focuses on examining linkages and interactions between the elements that comprise the whole of the system rather than individual components. By understanding the bigger picture, leverage points can then be identified for implementing change much more effectively.
The diagram presented aligns with the IRI’s approach to sustainable development, by recognizing ‘culture’ as one of the most powerful ‘systems thinking’ levers available.
Taking things one step further, Mohamed Amersi highlighted in his speech on ‘doing good, and doing well’ the potential of people of faith, and the role they can play in helping to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, people of faith represent a full 4,5 billion people worldwide – many of whom share values which are in perfect harmony with the Goals.
Mohamed Amersi also spoke about the work carried out by the Global Sustainability Network, as an amazing platform created to raise awareness for Sustainable Development Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, and its speedy adoption and implementation by all.
For more information about the Global Sustainability Network (GSN), please read about the IRI’s recent participation in the GSN meeting at the Vatican.