February 10, 2011 6 Comments
It seems quite challenging to describe what CSR is in 140 words or less. But it’s a great exercise. Leon Kaye, GreenGoPost.com‘s Founder, Features Editor & Lead Writer at Triple Pundit , Business Consultant and Balkans Advocate recently asked the CSR crowd on Twitter to give it a try : #CSR and #Corpgov in Tweet-Speak: Express Yourself in 140 Characters (or Less!)
I decided not to use one of the many definitions written by others that I’ve read about the topic in last few years. Instead I tried to define it with my own words and came up with the following definition:
CSR= an opportunity for companies to ensure a sustainable growth while meeting the needs & concerns of their stakeholders
I wanted to avoid buzzwords but, in my opinion, the objective of Social Responsibility, including Corporate SR, is to contribute to sustainable development, so I couldn’t leave this word apart. Stakeholders? Well, employees, shareholders, customers, partners, providers, as Todays’ business world is far more interconnected than it was when Milton Friedman expressed its now infamous idea that the only responsibility a business has is towards its shareholders, nobody can deny that the value demanded by customers, employees, job seekers has created a profound market shift that companies can’t ignore. As SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Peter Graf, put it recently, “sustainability is a trend as important as Internet or the globalization itself” and, “it’s here to say”, creating a world of “new winners and losers”.
That’s the reason why I’m using the word “opportunity“. Compliance is not a strategy, going beyond business is, and it’s also a fantastic opportunity for companies to manage successfully the new market shifts around value creation: value demanded by stakeholders as previously said, value delivered by the company through its products and its supply chain and the value graded by financial markets, governments and NGOs. Companies that fail to see CSR as an opportunity simply won’t survive.