There is no consistent and successful advocacy but the one founded in strong credibility. Credibility is the quality or power of inspiring belief; it can refer to a person, a corporation, an activity or a report.
Credibility gives legitimacy of speaking or acting on behalf or support of a plan, an idea, a project, or even a political, social, or economic action. It implies that the advocacy promoter – whether a person or organization – is known and respected by the policy makers or stakeholders involved in the issue, has relevant information or expertise on the issues. So far the advocacy promoter is perceived as objective and trustworthy, and not politically and economically biased.
Is the head of nearly 200 U.S. companies credible when he says “they are committing to a move away from the idea that the main purpose of a company is to maximize shareholder value, marking a break with a long-held conviction”, the group has been promoting “that companies’ primary purposes are to reward shareholders”?
Now they proclaim their commitment “to delivering value to customers, investing in employees in ways that go beyond financial compensation to include training and education to ensure their skills are kept up to date, and embracing diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect,” “dealing fairly and ethically with its supply chain, supporting the communities in which they operate.” Are these words a credible advocacy for a corporation’s social responsibility and human rights commitment? The future has the last word, but are the transparency and legitimacy there? Credibility requires integrity in personal or corporation behavior, and professional expertise.
Personal integrity is shown either in a way of living consistent with the values of advocacy carried on or in the transparency of all the interests involved in a specific advocacy action. While the senior management of UNRWA is proved guilty of having been engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives”, all the support and advocacy to Palestinian refugees suffers the backlash.
However, no advocacy is far or free from some type of interests – be these financial and material ones, or ideological, religious, humanistic or psychological ones. The wave of critics submerging the NGOs comes specifically from this last lacking transparency. All NGOs have their own purpose, money sources, contracts and contacts involving a lot of interests. The inability of professing them openly and clearly lessens their credibility.
While stating explicitly the purpose of “generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital companies need to invest and grow”, because “each of (our) stakeholders is essential,” opens the way to credibility. No corporation is credible when professing only humanitarian aims, but they are when questioning “the role the companies they run play in the broader economy” and arguing “for an end to the divisive politics that are failing to address a range of issues from income inequality to racial and gender issues, stagnant wages, lack of equal opportunity, immigration and health care.”
They are, while showing a more ethical and intelligent way of gaining profit, as preferring “to use capital to grow than to buy back stock,” “investing for the future should come first.” Profit, yes, but intelligent and sustainable. As the JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said, “it was easy to boost earnings results in a quarter by doing stupid things that help in the short term but are bad in the long term.” Investing for the future “could spiral within a company, as loyal, well-meaning employees do what they can to help a company meets its earnings goal.” Credibility, legitimacy, transparency advocate for intelligent and sustainable earnings.
John Paul Pezzi, mccj
VIVAT International NGO
with consultative special status at UN