CSR & Government – Updated

In my previous post, I discussed about the possibility for the market economy to self-regulate and extract virtue out of companies, as well as the need for governments to internalise the positive externalities of CSR. I then found another article which provides a setting for the discussion (which should actually be read first in order to appreciate the contents of the previous post!).

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Leading brands including Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Samsung Electronics have been added to a series of indices which track the sustainability of the world’s largest corporations.

“In terms of market capitalisation it might be that a company is too little as we invite the 2,500 biggest companies to be in the index. So if you are no longer in the 2,500 biggest companies you may be excluded,” said Vetri.

Sustainability is supposed to keep company performance and to play a significant part in the process. CSR strategy might not be the profitable segment in terms of short run, however in a long run, it definitely would be profitable for your company.


The Future of CSR: Reporting In Order To Guarantee A Responsible Consumer Behavior

While writing all the blog entries, we always came across the topic of us as consumers being responsible for a company’s behavior, too. We can have a major affect on businesses by boycotting products. But how can we even know, which information is true and which not?

CSR reporting is a very important aspect that needs to be looked at when we talk about consumer responsibility. Companies need to be transparent, need to publish information about their business and supply chain. This way people, who already have realized their importance in making the world more sustainable, can get information and therefore can influence their consumer behavior. But can we really trust these reports? As long as there is no standardized way of reporting it will be difficult for stakeholders to compare and decide, which company one wants to support.

“The corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting community is now calling for standardized Integrated Reports – reports that combine the financial information of annual reports with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) data traditionally included in CSR reports”, argues this article.

Furthermore, Robert G Eccles, a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School explains:

„Integrated reporting is a simple idea, but it is an idea whose time has come. Voluntary filing programs are an easy and practical way to make this idea the common practice in companies’ external reporting. It is now up to regulators to make it happen.“

And then it is very fascinating to see young, innovative people deal with the aspect of „how can customer easily access the information provided in these reports? Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find a solution. A student of the Berlin School of Economics came up with the “Sustainable Traffic Lights”. It is an App called WeGreen for mobile phones, which allows you to take a picture of the barcode of a product. You then get information about the CSR report of the company’s product on your phone.

It is a very innovative idea and maybe this will work hand in hand with the trend for integrated CSR reporting. Thus it will lead to a more sustainable and environmental friendly behavior of customers.

We cannot assume that companies by themselves will change their profit-oriented behavior; but by building up some pressure we maybe will lead them in the right direction!





CSR Is Changing: Web 2.0 and Social Media and Its Importance For CSR

// The current oil spill disaster brings up a new question. How come that a company, which invested millions in a marketing campaign so that it would be perceived as an environmental friendly company, now turned out to be a big liar? BP was named to be a sustainable company and listed in numerous rankings. Now they have disappointed consumers that started to believe in the importance of corporate responsibility.

But in a world, in which it is shown that consumers become more aware of what influence their buying/consuming behavior can have on business behaviors, transparency gets more important. People need to know the truth about how social and environmental friendly companies really are. Author and business theorist Douglas Rushkoff was quoted: “The only thing that actually matters is corporate activity…if it’s doing something real, that will be communicated. You don’t decide to be transparent; you are transparent.”

This article really shows an interesting perspective on how CSR is changing through the oil spilling disaster of BP. The author is putting a great emphasize on the role of social media regarding CSR.

„The rise of social media has gone hand-in-hand with the ascent of a new breed of mainstream “consciousness” that’s one part Whole Foods and one part “Inconvenient Truth”–an emphasis on the local, the sustainable, the future-minded. The combination of the two, in turn, has been a significant public relations win for businesses, including massive corporations, that want to push a progressive image.“

Furthermore, this post by Intel states the importance of web 2.0 for CSR and transparency:

“There is so much potential for companies that value open and transparent dialog with their employees and other stakeholders. All they have to do is tap into the exciting tools offered by the web. The use of Web 2.0 is positioned to turn intranet sites, especially those of large corporate giants, into a platform to give employees their say within an informal framework. At the same time, Web 2.0 is a valuable tool, which can be used by corporations to inform their stakeholders about on-going and upcoming CSR activities, thereby involving them in the bigger picture – making them real partners in the contribution to the community.”

So maybe we really have to hope that through social media and web 2.0 we will get more information on how we can behave more responsibly and in which companies we can trust.

“Imagine if when (the BP) disaster happened, think about what would have happened if they embraced the social networks,” Ogilvy planning director Evan Slater said during a panel at #Promise. “Instead of telling people, ‘you can’t come research this’…imagine if they had gone out to the social networks and said, ‘We’re going to take $30 million and put out a reward for the group of individuals, the organization, the company, that can find a solution to this problem.’ I think the difference would have been phenomenal.”




CSR: a prevention measure?

I chanced upon an interview on CSR with Chip Pitts, who currently serves as president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and lectures on CSR and business/human rights at Stanford Law School and Oxford University. The interview explores the questions how CSR might have helped head off Wall Street’s precipitous failure or have avoided the scary economic development of the past two years.

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How Corporate Social Responsibility is evolving

The background of CSR

The history of CSR is almost as long as that of companies. Concerns about the excesses

of large companies were commonly expressed back in the seventeenth century. The topics then were not the environment, but the treatment of workers. Today, the evolution of the importance of acting responsible is described on merinews.com as follows:

Corporate Social Responsibility has been around as a concept for some time. It has been increasingly picking up momentum and allowing corporate bodies, hitherto focused only on making profits for shareholders and promoters to look beyond these horizons.

Many factors have changed CSR over time and one factor that may change it right now is the latest environmental disaster.

Will the BP oil spill change CSR?

While the BP oil spill may not change the definition of CSR, it may well change how critically activities concerning CSR are evaluated. There’s a critical assessment of how Corporate Social Responsibility activities are rated on theglobalrealm.com, which states:

Remarkably, BP got very good marks from a corporate social responsibility standpoint, which suggests there are deep seated flaws in that methodology.

The future of CSR

While it seems that the definition of CSR is sufficient, the implementation is not. One possible future of the realization of socially responsible actions is envisioned here:

CSR can become a tool of corporations to be used tactically to defuse criticism and protect their image or it can become an effective tool in truly democratic societies to make corporations socially and environmentally responsible by creating a sustainable business ethos.

Corporate Social Responsibility is an evolving and exciting topic and it’ll be interesting to see how it will change over time.



CSR and Ads


“Marks & Spencer, the iconic British retailer, has recently spent a fortune on full-page newspaper ads proclaiming its responsible approach to everything from the salt in its prawn sandwiches to the dyes in its knickers. ”
Roger Cowe  -Ethical cooperation-

How this is actually conventional advertising. It is reinforcing the brand values of safety, brand, faith. This is just for a part of the strategies of  “selling more stuff”.What would be the best advertisement is that urged people to buy less. This is all the time dilemma for companies. CSR could be good advertisement for raising up the good image of the company, we have to look at the what is behind the stories.