More on Corporate Social Responsibility

Stephen DeAngelis

November 10, 2006

Critt Jarvis, who is doing some interesting work in Honduras, blogged about the continuing disconnect between corporate rhetoric concerning social responsibility and implementation. One way to begin, Critt argues, is to get conversations started amongst corporations and those who can help them achieve social responsibilty including those it is supposed to help. He was kind enough to link to three of my previous posts on the subject: Corporate Conscience; Public-Private Partnerships; and Corruption and Development.

Critt also points his readers to an organization whose primary goal is to help corporations become more socially responsible — CSR Asia. According to its web site:

CSR Asia is a social enterprise that strives to be the leading provider of information about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Asia-Pacific region. CSR Asia builds capacity in companies and their supply chains to promote awareness of CSR in order to advance sustainable development across the region.

CSR Asia defines a social enterprise this way:

“A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.” (UK Government definition: Social Enterprise – a Strategy for Success DTI, 2004)

CSR Asia has a big job since they admit “there is as yet, no widely agreed upon definition of Corporate Social Responsibility. For its part:

At CSR Asia, we believe CSR is a company’s commitment to operating in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner whilst balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders.

As I have noted before, there appears to be a growing recognition that resilient enterprises must also be socially responsible. You cannot become a globally integrated enterprise, as IBM’s Sam Palmisano calls them, without become a welcomed member of the community in which you operate. That means acting responsibly towards employees, towards the environment, and towards the culture in which business must be transacted.