By Sam Kimberley
In the 1960’s, demanded by the public, Cooperate Social Responsibility entered the scene-what was it? The vague idea to protect and improve the environment. Popular by consumers the 1970’s saw the implementation of these ideas into government regulations under the new title Cooperate Social Responsiveness that explained how the government should play a part in behaving more sustainably. Come the 1980’s Cooperate Social Performance was bouncing around which not only looked at environmental concerns, but considered ethics, citizenship and shareholder management.
What!!?? 30 years, 3 different theories that were all about prioritising the environment, but what do they actually mean? Today, Cooperate Social Responsibility is considered to mean “a form of cooperation self-regulation integrated into a business model” which highlights the need for business to care more than just profit, to consider the social and environmental impacts that they have on the world.
This sounds great! -business help the world become a better place! Yet critics argue that CSR is just a disguise; to pretend that business are caring about the world and its needs but really trying to make millions. Academics argue that CSR is simply another form of capitalism, using Volkswagen falsifying carbon emissions data as an example. In the ‘Redefining Value’ seminar discussions today, delegates spoke openly about their frustrations with attitudes to CSR in external reporting, how the finance teams have months with the reports, yet the sustainability staff are slid the report to proof read a week before the deadline.
If CSR is simply a cloak used to disguise the malpractice of companies, then does it provide any benefit?
>>>In planning this blog, I here intended to speak about Creating Shared Value as a further development of CSV. However having now attended several sessions at the WBCSD, CSR is the term that the delegates are using<<<
Listening in on conversations with WBCSD delegates and members workshop today made it very clear that CSR was a pre-requisite for business, with regulation enforcing the theory that businesses have significant impact in addressing social and environmental issues thus legitimising the recognised importance of CSR.
The CSR argument as to its usefulness is a hot topic that appears to be staying for the foreseeable future with Stowell foreseeing until at least 2030.
Deciding whether CSR is a pretence or a hero in disguise will never be concluded in full agreement, yet time will help enlighten the battle.