I watched a fascinating panel discussion this morning led by Aman Singh that had the charge of “Reimagining CSR as an Engine of Innovation, Profitability & Purpose.” Her esteemed panel, including, among others, Seventh Generation’s Jeffrey Hollender and author Carol Sanford, kept leading me back to a single idea about corporate social responsibility: CSR is no add-on activity. Once you decide to be a responsible company, responsibility must be systematic. To do it right, you have to go all-in!
Get into CSR for whatever reasons you want
I’m not saying that you can’t initially approach the idea of corporate responsibility for a single small reason or two. Maybe you started thinking about CSR because you wanted to mitigate risk. That’s fine. Or perhaps you wanted to recruit (and retain) top young talent. Or make your supply chain more efficient. Or jumpstart innovation. All of those are good reasons to want to be a more responsible company, and surely, together they make quite the case for CSR. But if you want to be successful, your focus has to become bigger than that.
CSR is a living system, not a marketing campaign
Ms. Sanford said that a responsible company is like an ecosystem. Everything one part does will affect the whole. Unlike a new product or marketing campaign, responsibility requires a true cultural shift.
In order to drive this shift, you have to focus on an end game that is greater than simple energy efficiency, risk mitigation, or any other single goal. The final goal is simple, but not easy. Be a responsible company, through and through.
At BusinessEarth, we help companies connect small efforts to deeper, systematic change. From basic issues like energy efficiency, to more complicated employee and stakeholder engagement, we work with businesses so that they can learn to profit, responsibly.