True CSR vs fake CSR
Unless we define in no uncertain terms what genuine corporate social responsibility (CSR) is, we will yield by default to those who peddle accommodative standards of CSR.
CSR is not about “feel good, look good and smell good” projects that are the handiwork of spin masters and propagandists whose job is to deodorize the social misbehavior of their companies through high-profile programs. We should not allow any space for this sort of corporate hypocrisy which has only served to set back the practice of genuine CSR by creating confusion and distrust.
Society has had enough of corporate fakes who adorn their corporate vision/mission statements with sublime declarations about helping the community and who breast-beat about the pittance that they dispense to the poor while robbing them of a healthy environment, a decent wage, a fair and just business deal, and a transparent accounting of their stewardship of resources, a big part of which may have come into their possession because of the sheer imbalance of economic power.
Our admiration must be reserved for companies who can see their way clear and have no difficulty recognizing the long-term congruence between their corporate interest on one hand and the interest of society on the other. Any seeming contradiction between what is good for the company and what is good for society can only be short-term. Over time, this contradiction must disappear.
When a company, out of the goodness of its heart, sacrifices short-term profits by engaging the poor in a creative supply chain arrangement, it must be smart enough to know that in the long-run, such an arrangement can actually stabilize its supply of raw materials, creating cost efficiency and competitiveness.
There need not be any guilt for generating a long-term business benefit apart from the salvation of the soul from socially responsible behavior. In fact, we cannot overly romanticize the flawed concept of “double bottom line” by wrongly implying contradictions between business profit and societal benefit.
At some point, business has to work at bringing about a convergence in these bottom lines, recognizing that only disciplined, enlightened and self-restrained corporate behavior can make a business survive the worst of financial crises and economic cycles.
To all practitioners of genuine CSR, I say “Carry on!” To the corporate fakes, propagandists, spin masters and those who prostitute the definition of CSR, I say “Shame on you!” You will not find any friends in the legitimate CSR community so you will be better off carving a career in traditional politics.