Looking at a number of ongoing discussions on professional blogs, social responsibility is now a growing requirement for every organization and I would add professional. Interestingly enough, the project management profession is far from being exempt from this responsibility. An organization’s products, services, policies and programs are under increased scrutiny with respect to the implications these elements have on society. A subtle movement has been taking place for years that focuses on holding organizations accountable for fulfilling their civic duties and monitor their efforts to benefit society in general. It looks at an organization’s efforts to benefit the planet, people, prosperity and peace. All noble efforts to say the least. Some find this troubling because in many cases these undertakings run contrary to maximizing profits, which has been a primary focus for decades.
Emerging technologies bring with them some unique capabilities that some find troubling. There are some that are so troubled by one or more of these technologies, they take action. Artificial intelligence is one of the emerging technologies that has taken center stage when it comes to some being troubled. An interesting example became well publicized when Google employees and other protesters/critics voiced their concerns when Eric Schmidt delivered his keynote address at Stanford University’s AI conference. Another example came late in 2018 when workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Europe spoke out saying ‘we are not robots’ in their protests. Once again, these show a derivative implication from the disruption of emerging technologies. Could the protests impact programs and projects – yes. As a profession and as the person on point for delivery of initiatives that might be disputed, it is a risk that must be assessed and managed. On the other side of the coin, we may all be managing programs and projects that are clearly an organization’s undertaking within their social responsibility efforts.
THOUGHT: Carrie Underwood, American singer, songwriter, and fashion designer said, “Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just take from it.”
Check out the results of my poll asking if those responding organization was socially responsible.