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Chris Marshall

CSR: How do you solve the two fundamental problems with CSR:

1). The corporation fundamentally doesn't actually care about the efficacy of the work that they are doing in any community. They don't care whether it is appropriate, sustainable, working, whether it is a high priority etc (I could go on). The only thing they care about is the perception of themselves as responsible.

2). When a publicly owned company "donates" in some form, this is essentially the board/executives of the company giving away their shareholder's money (ie. not their own). If the CEO of my company thinks that the Tsunami is a worthy cause, then let him give his own money, and persuade the shareholders to give theirs too. It is NOT his job to be giving away the company's cash.

A caveat to this I think should be "soft" donations, or donations-in-kind where a company can lend help in a non-monetary way (eg. loans of computers, office space, equipment etc etc).

I personally think that CSR is just another aspect of the blame/responsibility culture that is gathering pace throughout the west. We always think that someone else should be doing the giving; never ourselves. We never concentrate on the responsibility of individuals - only of organisations (I'm also thinking of governments here). Compare with the laughable hysteria from many quarters over how little the British government originally pledged to the Tsunami cause.



You're absolutely right about much of corporate philanthropy. I think that to many people CSR or corporate responsibility is corporate philanthropy.

Personally I am less interested in whether a company gives to charity than whether they give a damn about people who live nearby, or listen to customers, or treat employees and parts of their supply chain well.

This matters because
a) I don't like the idea that I am somehow complicit in something I disapprove of
b) More positively, I like to buy things that support the values I have
c) If I were a shareholder I would be concerned that significant risks are not being addressed - the likely impact of climate change, potential law suits etc

Good corporate responsibility and sustainable business practice is about the core business - it has a good values-based motive and a profit motive too.


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  • Tim Aldrich

    altfunction.net is a blog exploring four areas of interest to Tim Aldrich that are increasingly having some bearing on one another: corporate responsibility, technology, media and creativity.

    Tim's other, more miscellaneous, blog is A Gentleman's Commonplace.

    All opinions aired here are the responsibility of their authors, both in the posts and the comments, and in no way should be taken to represent the views of the organisations they work for.

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