- the real motivation behind Corporate Social Responsibility enterprises and the need for authenticity (CSR is not a PR Exercise)
- the need for authentic concern for the other – not self (Who’s Scalping Who?)
Now more than everCSR is an important area to focus on when business is quiet. Even if it can feel like a financial sacrifice, it’s important to know that the values that underlie true CSR activities also underpin the successful civilisations that have survived the tough times, and conversely the values that draw focus away from true responsibility and back onto pure profit easily lead to collapse, as has happened over and over again throughout history. The values that ensure that organisations are answerable to the communities that they live and work, as well as to the global community, may be the very ones that pull them out of a long term crisis.
Peaked outOne conclusion on this year from several economists is that not much has changed. Even after the crash the faulty system is still in place and the underlying disease has still not been cured. It seems that we haven’t fixed the cause, only dealt with symptoms temporarily. In the TV documentary ‘Addicted to Money’ David McWilliams has provided a great insight into the issues and has warned that the party is over. Having barely survived a complete collapse of the financial system, the global economy is still tottering on the brink. We've reached the limits of what our desires demand of the planet and what it can deliver. We're reaching ‘Peak Everything’, according to McWilliams, and the question is whether we can manage the change or whether we will we let the changes manage us. The latest news on Dubai both metaphorically and literally ‘going under’ is simply a repeat of what many other civilisations have been through. The over-spending issues imitate what the Easter islanders, Angkorians and Mayans tribes went through when they tried to outdo each other with the most impressive tallest temples / buildings, over stretching their resources beyond repair and at the expense of looking after the masses. We need to question what lies behind our desire to push the limits in whatever we do. Wouldn’t it be great to turn the desire into having the greatest positive impact on the planet - instead of simply trying to build the highest buildings and make the greatest financial statement!
Getting past the politics of CSRThe ongoing debate over whether the contemporary organization should focus on ‘people’ or ‘profit’ will continue to rage, but to us it has become clear that in the long run the two are symbiotic. When cutting costs, it is easy to think you are justified in focusing on the bottom line bricks and mortar, but if you fail to find mutually beneficial community focused strategies your building will still fall apart when the big bad wolf comes huffing and puffing. Those who argue against CSR will say that:
- it distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses;
- it is nothing more than superficial window dressing;
- it is an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations.
The positive practice of CSRAs Bryane Michale, Professor of Management at Oxford University has said, CSR is about opportunities, not about obligations and rules. It's a way you can add value to your business by taking a closer look at your social and environmental aspects of your operations. The advantages he outlines for companies include:
- Better Reputation and Customer Loyalty
- Increased Competitiveness
- Improved Risk Management
- Higher Satisfaction and Motivation levels among Employees
- Enhanced Stakeholder Trust
- Sustainable values that lead to long term sustainable growth
- Recruitment and retention of talented staff;
- Developing individual and team skills at all levels within the business;
- Promoting work/life balance;
- Building relationships with charitable organisations and local stakeholders;
- Attracting customers and adding value to client/supplier relationships;
- Enhancing the BMJ brand and profile;
- Enhancing their employer brand;
- Improving workplace diversity; and
- Reducing environmental impact while saving money
The ultimate giftUltimately though, CSR is all about giving, and with the festive season upon us this may be the best time to reflect on the power of giving unconditionally. Giving time and energy, giving financial resources, and giving over to deeper values. It is a commitment to anticipating in positive change that impacts people at all levels. We've seen what happens when people "take" and what happens when the bottom line focus is on results, maybe its time to encourage values of giving and support behaviors that encourage giving. How might your organizational leadership be impacted if the focus was more squarely placed on behaviors that get results, and the values behind these behaviors, and not the results themselves? “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill "Defined by what we give not get" by Andrew & Gaia Grant (2009) This article may be republished as long as links are posted back to www.tirian.com and the authors acknowledged.