Tech4Biz | 05 Sep 2012 :
An interesting spat has arisen between software as a service pioneer Salesforce.com and a group of NGOs, educators and philanthropists led by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The spat centres around the use of the term "social enterprise" by Salesforce.com in its marketing.
The term social enterprise has been around since the late 1970s and has nothing to do at all with the current social media trend. Social enterprise refers to "businesses that exist to tackle social and environmental issues, whose surpluses are reinvested rather than driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners," according to a statement from the group.
Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, co-authors of "The Spirit Level", have penned an open letter to Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com, exhorting him to stop using the term for commercial gain.
The authors of the letter accuse Salesforce.com of subverting the term to mean social media and networking as used by enterprises. The authors also say that Salesforce.com has claimed that its customers, including the private companies Virgin America, Burberry and Spotify, are transforming into social enterprises.
"As a lifelong advocate of the power of enterprise to create good for the poor of the world I respectfully ask that Salesforce stops its attempts to trademark the phrase ‘social enterprise'," said Professor Yunus. "It brings unnecessary confusion to the marketplace."
The social enterprise movement is well established in the UK, where taps into a longheld tradition of philanthropy in industry, harking back to the Industrial Revolution. Membership organisations representing charities and social enterprises in the UK have lent their support, from Co-operatives UK to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations and Social Enterprise UK.
The Not in Our Name campaign, started by Social Enterprise UK in recent weeks in response to its members voicing their concerns about Salesforce, has spread across the globe. Somewhat ironically, the campaign has rapidly gained pace through the use of Twitter.
"For Salesforce to adopt a term that has been used by a global movement of businesses that exist to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems - poverty, inequality, unemployment and global warming - could do untold damage to an important, rapidly growing sector," said Peter Holbrook, chief executive, Social Enterprise UK.
"In their quest to appropriate the term for their own benefit, Salesforce risks harming the social enterprise movement's future. A great deal of energy and resource has been invested into the social enterprise movement in the last 20 years. We're at a tipping point where people are beginning to understand that business can be established primarily as a tool for social and environmental good. This effort and hard work must not be undone. We're simply asking that they find another term to describe their products rather than seeking to appropriate the goodwill associated with social enterprise movement."
Below is the full text of the letter with all signatories, sent to Marc Benioff by email on 31/08/2012, as supplied by Social Enterprise UK.
Chairman & CEO
World Wide Corporate Headquarters
The Landmark @ One Market
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Dear Marc Benioff
Social enterprise is widely understood to describe businesses that exist to tackle social and environmental issues, whose surpluses are principally reinvested to do so, rather than driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.
The social enterprise term has been used for nearly two decades by a worldwide movement for social justice that has support from governments and civil society organisations all over the world. Time, energy and resources have been invested into the social enterprise movement, a thriving and a powerful force providing solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems - poverty, inequality, unemployment, disadvantage, climate change and global warming.
Your organisation's attempts to take over the term are very damaging to our movement. We ask that Salesforce ceases to use the term ‘social enterprise' for private profit and:
(a) Withdraws its current applications to trademark the term ‘social enterprise', and makes no other attempts in the future;
(b) Stops using the term ‘social enterprise' to describe its products / services; and
(c) Stops advocating that its customers, many of which are private companies, are social enterprises, when they are not.
The movement is achieving so much and growing rapidly but is still in its relative infancy. Its potential for future generations has yet to be realised. Diluting the term and confusing its meaning is only going to be harmful and any successful attempts to trademark the term will close doors for genuine social enterprises.
Rather than jeopardise its progress, please take the steps to support the social enterprise movement on its journey to build a socially just economy and a more sustainable society for all.
Professor Muhammad Yunus Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Price Laureate (Bangladesh)
Professor Richard Wilkinson
Professor Kate Pickett Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology and co-author of ‘The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone' (UK)
Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences, The University of York and co-author of ‘The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone' (UK)
Lord Adebowale CEO, Turning Point (UK)
Baroness Thornton Shadow Equalities Minister, House of Lords and Honorary Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Enterprise (UK)
Claire Dove MBE DL Chair of Social Enterprise UK and CEO, Blackburne House (UK)
Peter Holbrook CEO, Social Enterprise UK (UK)
Sir Stuart Etherington CEO, National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) (UK)
Sir Stephen Bubb CEO, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) (UK)
Liam Black Co-founder, Wavelength (UK)
Social Enterprise World Forum Members
Gerry Higgins Chair
CEO, Social Traders (Australia)
Lee Davis Co-Founder NESsT (Brazil)
David LePage Enterprising Non-Profits & Social Enterprise Council of Canada (Canada)
Kevin Lynch Social Enterprise Alliance (USA)
Kevin Robbie Social Ventures Australia (Australia)
Jim Schorr Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbuilt University (USA)
Peter Stadler Fachberatung für Arbeits- und Firmenprojekte (FAF) (Germany)
Dr. Susan Steinman University of Johannesburg, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (South Africa)
Steve Wyler OBE CEO, Locality (UK)
Ed Mayo Secretary General, Co-operatives UK (UK)
Dr. Peter Kyle Deputy CEO, ACEVO (UK)
Cliff Prior CEO, UnLtd (UK)
Rod Schwartz CEO, ClearlySo (UK)
Pooja Warier Director, UnLtd India (India)
Jan Olsson Co-President, REVES (UK)
Filippo Addarii Executive Director, Euclid Network
Fraser Kelly CEO, Social Enterprise Scotland
Claire Greenwood Director, Papilio Limited
Emma Worley FRSA COO and Founder, The Philosophy Foundation
Frank Buckley CEO, Down Syndrome Education International
Charlotte McConkey Director, Big Bird Media
Theresa Burton CEO & Co-founder, Buzzbnk
Professor Rob Paton Centre for Public Leadership & Social Enterprise
Trisha Lee Artistic Director, MakeBelieve Arts
Dr Iyabo Fatimilehin Executive Founder, Just Psychology CIC
Karen Lynch CEO, Belu
Pradeep Jethi Co-founder and CEO, Social Stock Exchange Ltd
Paul Young Founder of Emerging Padoyo
Denise Davis-Boreham Chief Executive, Make a Difference Community Interest Company
John Clarke Director, Social Telecoms CIC
Sue Quinn Director, se2 and Visual Revolution CIC
Andrew Tilling Director, Preseli Partnerships Ltd
Chris Dabbs Chief Executive, Unlimited Potential
John Burgess Chairman and co-founder, Destiny Enterprise Solutions
Kate Welch OBE DL CEO, Acumen
Heather Wilkinson CEO, Striding Out CIC
Tony Blunden CEO, Siawns Teg
Will Nixon CEO, PM Training
Nick Comley MD, Brew On The Social Enterprise Brewery
Peter Lovell CEO, North London Community Finance
Clive Hirst FRSA Chairman of Social Enterprise Solutions CIC
Mike Bryan Founder, brycom
Jean McVann MD, Gateway Primary Care CIC
Brendan Martin Managing Director, Public World"