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‘We need to go deeper with corporate social responsibility’



On April 15, an event in London will question whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) has reached its sell-by date.

Hosted and produced by Responsible 100, Be Inspired Films and Kyocera Document Solutions, the interactive panel discussion forms part of Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week 2013.

In the run-up to April 15, we’ll be hearing from all the panellists set to speak at the event.

After talking to Kyocera’s Tracey Rawling Church and Matter&Co’s Tim West earlier this week about their thoughts on CSR, Blue & Green Tomorrow posed the same set of questions to Ravinol Chambers of Be Inspired Films – a film production company that specialises in working with social purpose organisations.

What does ‘corporate social responsibility’ mean to you?

To me, CSR is the opportunity for a company to act as it would if it were an individual, with the values, the respect and the care that we would all hope to be able to offer and to receive in our dealings with one another so that our society can be a more equitable and fair one for all, even whilst making a profit.

Can you explain the difference, if any, between responsible business and corporate social responsibility?

I like the term responsible business because it hints to me that it is the business itself and those running the businesses that have decided to behave responsibly.

With the term corporate social responsibility, I get the feeling that there may be a kind of implied moral pressure or expectation to do the right thing that means actions carried out under that banner may not really be born of internal desire to be responsible, but due to external pressures or expectations.

How widespread/mainstream is corporate social responsibility, in the sense you describe, and do you have any best-in-class examples?

I don’t think it is that prevalent in the sense where it is truly integral to the way a company operates in all its dealings. Like a person embodies certain values by the way they behave, the external and internal should match.

Unfortunately we do not trust what many companies say, because their behaviours do not match up to what they advertise about themselves. I recently came across a company called Thoughtworks who seem to walk the talk.

Without stealing the event’s thunder, has ‘corporate social responsibility passed its sell-by date? And why do you say that?

CSR, in the way many people might still think of it, has certainly reached its sell-by date. We need to go deeper, and think of the ‘why’ not just the ‘how’ and the ‘when’.

What will corporate social responsibility look like in 10 years from now?

CSR in 10 years from now will be the expected norm: to look after and develop staff and the communities that companies operate in. Those who are not doing that will fall by the way side.

The really exciting stuff though will be seeing the innovation in this area, where some companies start doing things that are completely counterintuitive in terms of current business thinking, but that can still deliver huge success and value for everyone who connects with those companies.

See here for more information on the CSR event.

Further reading:

Some corporate social responsibility has ‘gone stale’

‘Corporate social responsibility is an attitude of mind’

Sustainability in the workplace reflects on employees’ personal choices, says study

Taking steps towards a new ethical age of business

Responsible investment terms: what is CSR?


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