CSR: a buzz like never before, but not fully understood…

CSR, as you probably know, stands for Corporate Social Responsability. CSR is also simply called Corporate Responsibility. CSR, in short, is all about the behaviour of private/public sector organisations and their contribution to sustainable development (health, safety and environmental) goals.

According to CIPS, ” CSR should be borne in mind when dealing with suppliers, although the extent of the breadth and depth of its impact will vary across sectors. ” CSR embraces a number of distinct but inter-related topics as follows:

  • Environmental responsibility
  • Human rights
  • Community involvement
  • Impact on society
  • Equal opportunities
  • Ethics and ethical trading
  • Sustainability
  • Bio-diversity
  • Corporate governance

Last year, Gerard Chick, Head of Knowledge Management at CIPS, released an article titled “CSR, can you afford not to engage“, underlining the importance taken by CSR in procurement activities.

CSR was even the core theme of CIPS’ last ‘Knowledge in Action’ (KiA) publication. To give you a better idea of CIPS’ perception of CSR, below is an excerpt of their article you can read find here:

Corporate Social responsibility is currently seen by many in procurement as the number one ‘Hot Topic’. Ken James our CEO made a key note speech at the Premier Conference in October on the subject and Darren Ford a colleague in the Professional Practice Team has been working hard to develop the CIPS position on this major issue.

To some CSR is seen as another fad. Ignore it and it will go away. However this issue gets to the nub of the issue. The consequences of failure to act will damage the health of your organisation. The current world-wide climate is one of both opportunity and potential disaster, and confronting this situation is often unavoidable (examine your own supply chains and you may see internationally-sourced resources and materials, or international distribution). This means that new models on how to conduct business need to be developed, or old ones reinvigorated for today’s climate.

The core theme of this issue of KiA, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) reflects the idea of ‘moral philosophy’ and its application to modern business strategy. This might seem like something of an irrelevance in the world of corporate activity; that philosophy and moral positioning is something for the academics to discuss in their ivory towers while ‘real’ business people get on with making money. However, whilst this might be true of past business activity, today the idea of ‘ethical behaviour’ and ‘cultural understanding’ in a global world is a crucial part of being successful or even just surviving as a business.

This is not something limited to the end of the production process in terms of satisfying the consumers’ needs with respect to pricing or product features. There is also concern from various stakeholders for a company to be ethically and socially ‘sound’ and large swathes of consumers also have ‘built in’ the ethical or moral position of a company alongside other ways of evaluating their products or services (hence the popularity of ‘fair trade’ products and the unpopularity amongst some groups of large companies who are considered to be ignoring aspects of environmental damage or worker poverty in the drive for cutting costs and increasing profit).

Ethical concerns have expanded and become much more important and in this issue of KiA I have chosen five journal articles which span the debate from the moral philosophical stance through to CSR in action. (…)

I recommend reading Wikipedia’s CSR page for those who want to know a bit more about how to audit and report CSR or about CSR business case (Human Resources; Risk Management; Brand differentiation; Licence to operate) …

For those looking for CSR news, CSRwire gather all interesting PR and publications related to CSR.

CSR definitly looks to be an-ever-increasing subject: ” CSR is creating a buzz in China’s business world like never before. From NGOs to government institutions to the private sector, everyone’s talking about it ” (Source: Daily China).

Have a look as well at this late great post from Tim Minahan (Supply Excellence Blog) titled “Sustainable supplies: there’s no denying it“, where Tim confirms the booming buzz CSR is getting.

CSR is not fully understood in China though, revealed lady Tong Shumeng, assistant to the dean of Peking University’s Market Economy Academy, as she introduced the findings of the China CSR Survey 2006 at Wednesday’s CEO Roundtable:

The study, the first of its kind in China, surveyed attitudes towards CSR at 890 companies across China both State-owned, privately owned and multinationals.

Tong said the study found that “Chinese companies are aware of the importance of CSR and have taken action on the issue, but most of them have mistaken ideas about CSR.”

Most companies equate CSR with charitable activites, pointed out Tong, but “obviously CSR means an awful lot more than just donations or charity.”

Read more from the Source: Daily China

In future posts, I’ll look forward to reviewing CSR best practices and ways to implement.

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