Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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What Is The Story With CSR?

What Is The Story With CSR?

Businesses globally are moving towards more socially and environmentally sustainable practices because it makes good financial sense, according to a research from Grant Thornton.

Earlier this year I have taken part in an academic debate about the pros and cons of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), while you may think it is pretty binary to come up with pro or anti arguments there was some common interest in making an attempt to answer questions such as ``are CSRs schemes providing a viable answer to sustainability challenges?`` or `` beyond reputation and marketing is CSR a demagogic solution to deeply rooted societal issues?``

It is no secret that corporations are targeting consumers, the latest Kenco campaign Coffee vs. Gang is a good illustration that CSR and broader business objectives are becoming more aligned, in a social media environment companies have realized that reporting to Wall Street on financial matters is one thing, broadcasting strategies that do improve human and environmental well-being has also become a must.

CSR awards and other recognitions are anxiously chased by corporations and provide an easy meal for anti CSR, the dilemma for corporations is pretty much that you damn if you do you damn if you don’t. Some say CSR as a concept is already obsolete the emergence and birth of numerous social enterprises across the globe would tempt to make us believe that the community wants more and that CSR is probably no longer the only right answer.

Social Enterprises across the globe are probably more tuned in with the reality on the ground that any Public Affairs Manager from any large enterprise but it is true too that they share a common goal in preserving their reputation thru integrity, Social Entrepreneurs think stakeholders as opposed to Shareholders but what they do lack as opposed to the latter is cash, it seems most social enterprises operate with a very tight P&L which is on average around 50 K.

The most common profile except a few exceptions are independent Robin Hood coffee shops, micro banks , leisure centres, pubs etc…., while they are appealing to consumers for their impeccable ethics most of them have meagre profits which they proudly reinvest in equally small ecosystems. In fairness they try to organize themselves thru networks, form geographical or global alliances but the real problem is they are not able to scale up. It is true that they are influencing our collective mind-set but their impact is limited you may say this is better than nothing.

Too philanthropic or too small to make a real difference on a large scale are social entrepreneurs doomed from the day they start? My take on this is that the truth is probably not black and white never the less the big stress test for any social enterprise is the two year milestone at that juncture most social enterprises desperately try to strike schemes with large corporations or disappear this is not encouraging however it is fair to recognize that supply chain and fair trade have been heavily influenced thru effective lobbying from these game changers.

Supply chain has probably become the poster child for best industrial practise and ethical conduct of business, this was truly needed and let’s face it was good for employee engagement too. But do CSR or Social Enterprise labels really matters are those concepts already obsolete or have they evolved to a new dimension? Is it time to say bye bye CSR and Social Enterprise and welcome Responsible Capitalism. This is the next big revolution apparently!!

So what is the difference? Responsible capitalism creates wealth for society, for the long term and while in this shareholder capitalism has a role – it is subordinate to the bigger picture. Responsible capitalism distinguishes clearly genuinely productive efficiency and the issues resulting from borderline economic transactions or supply chain including demand for cheaper products. The ultimate stress test past tax would be the alchemy of truism between economic agents and society. The economist JK Galbraith says ``We need a revolution in our understanding of what capitalism needs to be about and remarked that all revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door. The economic crisis has revealed just how rotten the door is. But since 2007 the political classes have merely been painting it.''

Some say responsible capitalism is non-sense, a cope out and interestingly enough this comes from various angles including some folks within the ranks of reckless financials circles or even from philanthropic intellectuals and Think Tanks.

So have we grown up since 2007? Has capitalism become adult or is it still a brat, an undisciplined child who has no parameters and little consideration for what it does cause to its immediate environment, would its thirst for immediate gain be weighed against the interest of all or will it remain an unbalanced force bullying the smaller economic agents to fill the gaps of the societal cancers?


Stamp & Picture US Postal Service

Previously posted on a different platform

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Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #3

thanks Gilberto for taking the time to comment, indeed it could be just that :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #2

True Ken Boddie, it has been a few centuries of stagnation rather than progress when it comes to live together to the best of our ability, we may have 3 D but we are still one dimensional on most basic choices, sad state of affairs despite pockets of hope :-)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #1

I have no answers to your questions, Pascal, but can only add more questions. Who can we trust to address the global crises that we humans are ignoring - such as global warming, equal distribution of food, and availability of drinking water? Surely these are, in essence, the true cancers of this world to which you refer? I worry that corporations are failing to springboard existing sustainable energy techniques into a worldwide economical solution to our global warming problem. I also worry that we are not capable, as a race, of seriously finding solutions to bridge the gap between nations who can feed their people and those who can't. I have given up waiting for our politicians to act. They are as inactive as deer caught in headlights, constrained by their need for re-election, and consequently constricted by short term promises. To who else can we turn, for long term viable strategies and solution to these global terminal metaphorical diseases, if not to the true leaders of our global corporations? And where are they?

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