CSR program: whole range and depth
By Philip Kotler, David Hessekiel & Nancy R. Lee
John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2012
“Business leaders had no responsibilities other than to maximize profit for the shareholders.”
Thus argued Nobel Prize winner in economics Milton Friedman in 1970. That is their “social responsibility,” he declared.
That was 44 years ago, and Friedman might have had a great number of devotees to the idea that profit is the be-all and end-all of running enterprises in that un-enlightened era.
So much has changed, according to this book titled “Good Works,” and sub-titled “Marketing and Corporate Initiatives That Build a Better World … and the Bottom Line.”
It is co-written by marketing guru Philip Kotler, David Hessekiel and Nancy R. Lee—all believers in corporate social responsibility and social marketing. Their ideas are diametrically opposed to those advanced by Friedman, as they are advocates of that beautiful sound bite—“you can do well by doing good.”
Even before this book was published, many thought leaders have come on board underscoring the need for business to have goals other than profit. In fact, these thinkers propounded the idea that “profit” is not a bad word, because profit is the “fuel” that runs the engine of growth of any country or economy.
Graduate business schools of Harvard, Wharton and Kellog in the United States, and the Asian Institute of Management, University of the Philippines, Ateneo and the De La Salle in the Philippines have already included “Social Marketing” and “Corporate Social Responsibility” among their core business courses.
In fact, a book published in the US and circulated here, titled “Social Marketing, enjoyed brisk sales about 30 years ago, proving the growing popularity of businesses pursuing the twin goals of “doing well,” making money, and “doing good,” paying back to the community.
It is interesting to note that this social marketing book was co-written by Philip Kotler with my professor and friend, columnist too of the Inquirer, Ned Roberto.
“Good Works” is a well-organized book, starting with enumerating initiatives, then zeroing on discussions and sample “good works” programs, and then summarizing the initiatives and programs in a matrix. It is also evident that it is a well-researched study—made popularized in this Wiley book.
The authors even have taken the trouble of asking an elemental question: What is “Good”?
And their answer is this: “A quick browse of Fortune 500 websites reveals that the umbrella concept of good has many names including: corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, corporate philanthropy, corporate giving, corporate community involvement, community relations, community affairs, community development, corporate responsibility, global citizenship, and corporate social marketing.”
True to the authors’ academic discipline, they define their terms. Their first definition: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a commitment to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources.”
They further explain the word “discretionary,” as opposed to practices that are mandated by law or are moral or ethical in nature and perhaps, therefore, expected.
“We are referring to a voluntary commitment a business makes to choose and implement these practices and these contributions as socially responsible and will be fulfilled through adoption of new business practices and/or contributions, either monetary or nonmonetary.”
For a scholarly work, this book is also a master of argument taking side with companies who “do well” and “do good.” For example, it cites a 2011 global consumer study by Cone Communications which published its surprising findings that only “6 percent of consumers in 10 countries agreed with the philosophy that the role of business in society is to “just make money.”
The “giving” enterprises are increasing, and their philanthropic budgets ballooning! The book reports that “corporate cash and in-kind giving in the United States rose 10.6 percent in 2010 to $15.29 billion (including $4.7 billion in grants and gifts made by corporate foundations.” The source is the “Giving USA 2011 Study.”
I see a running debate between our enlightened capitalists against Friedman, the apostle of “maximizing profits”—and Friedman is fast losing disciples!
The book has good news for companies who want a good bottom line. Companies that have sustained CSR programs experienced “increase sales and market share, strengthened brand positioning, enhanced corporate image and clout, increased ability to attract, motivate and retain employees, decreased operating costs, and increased appeal to investors and financial analysis.”
The “meat” in this book are what the authors call the “six social initiatives” of the CSR-cum-profit driven companies: Cause Promotion, Cause-Related Marketing, Corporate Social marketing, Corporate Philanthropy, Workforce Volunteering, and Socially Responsible Business Practices.
Each of these initiatives are discussed at length, and are even presented as matrices to show the interrelationships of such initiatives. Any CEO or corporate affairs head looking for ideas will find a gold mine in this book.
But don’t look for eloquence extolling the virtues of CSR in this book: you cannot find it. What you will get is a comprehensive knowledge of the breadth, depth and height of the CSR concept. Don’t look for magical language in this book because you cannot find such fire in the book.
Yet you will find in this study a treasure trove of exciting and fascinating programs that have worked among world-renowned brands—like Starbucks, Target, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi, Marks & Spencer, General Mills, etc.
CSR has been bruited about among many circles with inadequate background information, with scanty analyses, and with a bankruptcy of samples that have worked.
Three years ago, I participated in the Asian CSR Forum in Vietnam, and I came face to face with many companies’ projects bringing them to rice fields, to water-thirsty communities, to poverty-stricken families—and these companies found their corporate soul.
Glad that I found this book through the assistance of Karen Rodriguez of Fully Booked in Alabang Town Center, I recommend this book to CEOs and social entrepreneurs like Chit Juan, CSR chiefs like Jeff Tarayao, corporate affairs executives like Marlene Ochoa and Estela dela Paz, corporate resource specialists Mayan Quebral, foundation heads like Dulce Festin—and many kindred souls who have brought back the “corporate soul” to otherwise purely money machines in the corporate world.
Many of our exposures to CSR have been largely anecdotal. With this book, any reader will have a profound grounding on the philosophy and the wondrous works of CSR as a redeeming feature of many businesses here and around the world.