The common good: business can be done differently!

Do you know what lies behind the term "common good economy"?? If not, you are like most of us. Although many people would certainly find the approach of the GWo good, if they would know it. And they would probably just wait for the ideas of GWo to spread and trigger a rethinking in the economy.

But one after the other. Who wants to change something? And why? And what does this have to do with eco-box operations? We talked about this with the GWo consultant and speaker Jorn Wiedemann.

Mr. Wiedemann, common good economy – what is that??

JW: The common good economy is an economic system based on values that promote the common good and is oriented towards contributing to the well-being of the community. The idea of GWo originated in Austria in 2010 and has already spread beyond Germany and Europe to America and other continents. The Common Good Economy movement is committed to its values in all areas of society. The credo is: The economy should serve to enable a good life for all – here and elsewhere, now and in the future, for people, animals and nature. The most important tool for this is the common good balance sheet.

Petra Graute-Hannen& Heinrich Hannen from the Lammertzhof in Kaarst: "What do we contribute to make a ‘good’ life possible for all people? We ask ourselves this question all the time." (Gemeinwohl-Bilanz Lammertzhof 2013/14)

Common Good Balance Sheet? Tell us what’s behind it!

JW: Generally, business enterprises balance their financial flows, resources, and possessions. How much turnover at what rate of return and what pre-tax profit was generated? What assets exist – manufacturing assets, real estate, investments, etc.?.? With the increasing realization that money cannot be the only yardstick to evaluate entrepreneurial activity, more balance sheets and documentations have emerged: Sustainability reports, CO2 and eco-balances or the presentation of social responsibility – new German "Corporate Social Responsibility".

However, GWo goes much further and captures all relevant aspects with regard to an organization’s contribution to the well-being of the community with the common good balance sheet. The list of questions is comprehensive and does not just scratch the surface. The issues include how the company treats its employees, partners and suppliers, standards throughout the supply and value chain, production equipment and processes, the use of resources and the environment, the use of financial resources, social equity, transparency, co-determination and equal rights – and much more besides. The common good report is the heart of every common good balance sheet. Writing it is already like looking into a value mirror. You can see exactly where you stand on the path to the common good. The common good balance sheet also includes a clear matrix that, from the common good report, relates four value categories to five touch groups and expresses the degree of fulfillment in a percentage value based on achievable points.

There seems to be some similarities with the eco-box.

JW: I think so too. The association okokiste e.V. The companies that have joined forces are first and foremost a community of values for which the usual standards of responsible business are by no means sufficient. Organic box companies are constantly addressing value-based management and, for example, are already much further ahead in social and ecological issues than many other players in the ever-growing organic market. Therefore an exchange with these companies is also very interesting for GWo. I have therefore only recently with the association okokiste e.V. I gave a presentation on the GWo and encountered many common ideas and a lot of support for our approach.

Are there plans for a further exchange with eco-box companies?

JW: There are already organic farms that have drawn up a balance sheet for the common good, and I am already talking to others. This just takes some time – especially since the organic box companies can currently hardly meet the demand of new customers.

Mr. Wiedemann, thank you very much for the interview.
And good luck with the GWo!

Large image above:

The Lecker family from Biohof Lecker in Laufen: "Beyond our daily business, we are always moved by future issues such as the ethical treatment of our animals and climate change."

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