Future Trends in CSR

Future Trends in CSR:

The Next 10 Years

Article by Wayne Visser

Looking to the future, what is needed – and what is just starting to emerge – is a new approach to CSR, which I call Systemic CSR, or CSR 2.0. This is a purpose-driven, principle-based approach, in which business seeks to identify and tackle the root causes of our present unsustainability and irresponsibility, typically through innovating business models, revolutionizing their processes, products and services and lobbying for progressive national and international policies. I have identified 10 trends:

Trend 1 – In the future, we will see most large, international companies having moved through the first four types or stages of CSR (defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic) and practicing, to varying degrees, transformative CSR, or CSR 2.0.

Trend 2 – In the future, reliance on CSR codes, standards and guidelines like the UN Global Compact, ISO 14001, SA 8000, etc., will be seen as a necessary but insufficient way to practice CSR. Instead, companies will be judged on how innovative they are in using their products and processes to tackle social and environmental problems.

Trend 3 – In the future, self-selecting ‘ethical consumers’ will become less relevant as a force for change. Companies – strongly encouraged by government policies and incentives – will scale up their choice-editing, i.e. ceasing to offer ‘less ethical’ product ranges, thus allowing guilt-free shopping.

Trend 4 – In the future, cross-sector partnerships will be at the heart of all CSR approaches. These will increasingly be defined by business bringing its core competencies and skills (rather than just its financial resources) to the party, as Wal-Mart did with its logistics capability in helping to distribute aid during Hurricane Katrina.

Trend 5 – In the future, companies practicing CSR 2.0 will be expected to comply with global best practice principles, such as those in the UN Global Compact or the Ruggie Human Rights Framework, but simultaneously demonstrate sensitivity to local issues and priorities. An example is mining and metals giant BHP Billiton, which have strong climate change policies globally, as well as malaria prevention programmes in Southern Africa.

Trend 6 – In the future, progressive companies will be required to demonstrate full life cycle management of their products, from cradle-to-cradle. We will see most large companies committing to the goal of zero-waste, carbon-neutral and water-neutral production, with mandated take-back schemes for most products.

Trend 7 – In the future, much like the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), some form of Generally Accepted Sustainability Practices (GASP) will be agreed, including consensus principles, methods, approaches and rules for measuring and disclosing CSR. Furthermore, a set of credible CSR rating agencies will have emerged.

Trend 8 – In the future, many of today’s CSR practices will be mandatory requirements. However, CSR will remain a voluntary practice – an innovation and differentiation frontier – for those companies that are either willing and able, or pushed and prodded through non-governmental means, to go ahead of the legislation to improve quality of life around the world.

Trend 9 – In the future, corporate transparency will take form of publicly available sets of mandatory disclosed social, environmental and governance data – available down to a product life cycle impact level – as well as Web 2.0 collaborative CSR feedback platforms, WikiLeaks type whistleblowing sites and product rating applications (like the GoodGuide iPhone app).

Trend 10 – In the future, CSR will have diversified back into its specialist disciplines and functions, leaving little or no CSR departments behind, yet having more specialists in particular areas (climate, biodiversity, human rights, community involvement, etc.), and more employees with knowledge of how to integrate CSR issues into their functional areas (HR, marketing, finance, etc.)

Collectively, these trends reflect a scenario …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/inspiration_csr_trends_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Future Trends in CSR (article)

Related pages

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2012) Future Trends in CSR: The Next 10 Years, CSR International Inspiration Series, No. 11.

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Broken Promises

Broken Promises:

BP’s Slide Backwards into Promotional CSR

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 4 of 13 in the Age of Responsibility Blog Series for 3BL Media.

By 2000, John Browne, then-CEO of BP, felt the company had earned enough sustainability kudos to risk a major rebranding. The company reportedly spent $7 million in researching the new ‘Beyond Petroleum’ Helios brand and $25 million on a campaign to support the brand change. When Browne justified the exercise by saying ‘it’s all about increasing sales, increasing margins and reducing costs at the retail sites’, perhaps more people should have tempered their expectations. Certainly Greenpeace wasn’t duped, concluding at the time that ‘this is a triumph of style over substance. BP spent more on their logo this year than they did on renewable energy last year’.

Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil (2008), was similarly sceptical, claiming that at its peak, BP was spending 4% of its total capital and exploratory budget on renewable energy and that this has since declined, despite Browne’s announcement in 2005 of BP’s plans to double its investment in alternative and renewable energies ‘to create a new low-carbon power business with the growth potential to deliver revenues of around $6 billion a year within the next decade.’

Sceptics notwithstanding, Browne had earned his new title as the ‘Sun King’ and his reputation was not only being earned with green stripes. BP was also one of the first companies to declare their support for the Publish-What-You-Pay campaign.  But success or failure is all about timing. If Browne had been a politician and had retired in 2003 after two four-year terms of office, he may still have been covered in glory, with his Sun King crown firmly in place. After all, he had turned BP into an oil major – perhaps even a competitor for Exxon Mobil – by creating a lean, mean, green machine. Instead, he hung onto power long enough to face the consequences of his own legacy of cost-cutting and rhetoric. As a result, between 2004 and 2007, the proverbial chickens came home to roost. Browne was left tarred and feathered.

On 23 March 2005, when an explosion and fire at BP’s Texas City refinery killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others. An investigation into the accident by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ultimately found over 300 safety violations and fined BP $21 million – the largest fine in OSHA history at the time. In 2007, in a separate settlement related to the explosion, BP pleaded guilty to a violation of the federal Clean Air Act and agreed to pay a $50 million fine and to make safety upgrades to the plant. Two years later, in 2009, OSHA imposed an additional $87 million in fines, claiming that the company had not completed all the safety upgrades required under the agreement and alleging 439 new ‘wilful’ safety violations.

In March 2006, BP was found to be criminally liable for  …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/blog_bp_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Broken Promises (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org/”]Website[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Broken Promises: BP’s Slide Backwards into Promotional CSR, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 28 February 2012.

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Give a Man the Means to Fish

Give a Man the Means to Fish:

From Paternalistic Charity to Venture Philanthropy

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 3 of 13 in the Age of Responsibility Blog Series for 3BL Media.

Give a man a fish and he will eat today. Teach a man to fish and he will eat tomorrow – or until his nets break. Invest in a man’s fishing business and he will feed himself and others for a long time to come. This is what it means to shift from paternalistic charity to venture philanthropy. It is an evolution that is important to root in a long and varied cultural tradition of philanthropy.

Confucius (551-479 BC) said: ‘When wealth is centralized, the people are dispersed. When wealth is distributed, the people are brought together.’ Hence, ‘a man of humanity is one who, in seeking to establish himself, finds a foothold for others and who, desiring attainment for himself, helps others to attain.’ When asked, ‘Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?’ he replied, ‘Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others’.

This so-called Golden Rule, which we find in all the world’s major religions, has come to represent the very essence of charity. In fact, the word charity derives from Latin caritas, which meant preciousness, dearness, or high price. However, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word agapē, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others. Hence, in St Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, we read, in the King James Version of the Bible, of ‘faith, hope and charity’. Of course, it is not only giving that is important, but also the nature of giving. There is a Jewish proverb that says: What you give for the cause of charity in health is gold; what you give in sickness is silver; what you give after death is lead.

Islam also has a strong tradition of charity. Zakāt, or alms-giving for the purposes of alleviating poverty and helping those less fortunate, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The practice is generally in the form of an annual tithe or tax of 2.5% of an individual’s wealth, including money made through business, savings and income. The zakāt must also be above an agreed minimum (called nisab), which is said to be around $2,640 or the equivalent in any other currency. As important as the collection of zakāt in a community is its fair distribution among the needy. Another form of charitable action is sadaqah, which literally means ‘righteousness’ and refers to the voluntary giving of alms or charity. These ancient traditions are considered to be a personal responsibility for all Muslims, practiced out of love for humanity, to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.

There are numerous other religious and cultural variations on the theme. Philanthropy in Latin America typically revolves around asistencialismo, which is charitable giving for poverty alleviation. Out of dedication to their religion, education and culture, Bulgarian communities raised donations to build churches, schools and cultural centres called chitalishta. In India, Gandhi’s trusteeship concept was adapted and applied to welfare acts. In Mexico, the Raramori, who still live in the mountains of the state of Chihuahua, use the expression korima, which means ‘to share’ resources in times of stress. In Southern Africa, ubuntu is the practice of humanism based on the collectivist notion that ‘I am a person through other people’.

So much for the roots and cultural traditions of philanthropy. Upon these foundations, the great philanthropists, ancient and modern, built their charities – from Rockefeller and Carnegie to Gates and Turner. The more interesting question, I think, is whether there is anything new and transformative about charitable giving? …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/blog_philanthropy_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Venture Philanthropy (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org/”]Website[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Give a Man the Means to Fish: From Paternalistic Charity to Venture Philanthropy, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 21 February 2012.

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Fat Cats versus Alley Cats

Fat Cats versus Alley Cats:

Why the Occupy Movement is Right

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 2 of 13 in Wayne Visser’s Age of Responsibility Blog Series for 3BL Media.

The most common explanation for the global financial crisis is to point a finger at the banks. And rightly so. But I believe we also need to shine a spotlight on the greed and irresponsibility of executives, fat-cats like Lehman Brothers’ former CEO Richard Fuld. These are the enriched 1% that suck the lifeblood out of the fleeced 99% and which the Occupy Movement is justifiably targeting. Naming and shaming is important, but we need to realise that this is a systemic cancer in our economic and financial system.

It is also not a new phenomenon, but worrying it is showing signs of getting worse, not better. In 2000, Enron was the 7th largest company in America, with revenues of $111 billion and over 20,000 staff. When the company collapsed in 2001, due to various fraudulent activities fuelled by a culture of greed, the average severance payment was $45,000, while executives received bonuses of $55 million in the company’s last year. Employees lost $1.2 billion in pensions; retirees lost $2 billion, but executives cashed in $116 million in stocks.

At the end of 2007, just before the crisis went public, Lehmans’ CEO Fuld and president Joseph Gregory paid themselves stock bonuses of $35 million and $29 million respectively. At the time, Fuld lived in an enormous Greenwich mansion, over 9,000 square feet, valued at $10 million. He had four other homes and an art collection valued at $200 million. Hardly a picture of responsible restraint.

Taken on their own, these executive pay packages are outrageous enough. But the extent of creeping executive greed comes into even sharper focus when we look at trends in relative pay. In 1965, U.S. CEOs in major companies earned 24 times more than a typical worker, a ratio that grew to 35 in 1978 and to 71 in 1989. By 2000, it had hit 298, and despite falling to 143 in 2002 (after the post-Enron stock market slump), it bounced back again and has continued rising through the noughties (2000s).

The Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess report reveals that the 2010 ratio between average worker and average CEO compensation leaped to 325-to-1, up from in 263-to-1 in 2009. Among the nation’s top firms, the S&P 500, CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304, up 27.8 percent over 2009. Average worker pay in 2010? That finished up at $33,121, up just 3.3 percent over the year before.

According to Fair Economy, the average U.S. worker’s salary could pay for 10 months of health insurance, 5 months of college tuition, and buy 10 percent of an average home. On the other hand, the average Fortune 500 CEO’s salary could pay for 300 years of health insurance, 200 years of college tuition and buy 34.5 new homes.

But at least these CEOs are contributing through taxes, right? Wrong. In fact, corporate  …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/blog_fat_cats_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Fat Cats versus Alley Cats (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org/”]Website[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Fat-Cats versus Alley-Cats: Why the Occupy Movement is Right, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 14 February 2012.

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The Meaning of Responsibility

The Meaning of Responsibility

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 1 of 13 in Wayne Visser’s Age of Responsibility Blog Series for 3BL Media.

Do you sigh when you hear the word responsibility? Perhaps responsibility is even a dirty word in your vocabulary. Perhaps you associate it with burdens and restrictions; the opposite of being carefree and without obligations. But responsibility doesn’t have to be a chore, or a cage. It all depends how you think about it.

Responsibility is literally what it says – our ability to respond. It is a choice we make – whether to be attentive to our children’s needs, whether to be mindful of the plight of those less fortunate, whether to be considerate of the impact we have on the earth and others. To be responsible is to be proactive in the world, to be sensitive to the interconnections, and to be willing to do something constructive, as a way of giving back.

Responsibility is the counterbalance to rights. If we enjoy the right to freedom, it is because we accept our responsibility not to harm or harass others. If we expect the right to fair treatment, we have a responsibility to respect the rule of law and honour the principle of reciprocity. If we believe in the right to have our basic needs met, we have the responsibility to respond when poverty denies those rights to others.

Taking responsibility, at home or in the workplace, is an expression of confidence in our own abilities, a chance to test our own limits, to challenge ourselves and to see how far we can go. Responsibility is the gateway to achievement. And achievement is the path to growth. Being responsible for something means that we are entrusted with realising its potential, turning its promise into reality. We are the magicians of manifestation, ready to prove to ourselves and to others what can happen when we put our minds to it, if we focus our energies and concentrate our efforts.

Being responsible for someone – another person – is an even greater privilege, for it means that we are embracing our role as caregivers, helping others to develop and flourish. This is an awesome responsibility, in the truest sense, one which should be embraced with gratitude, not reluctantly accepted with trepidation. Responsibility asks no more of us than that we try our best, that we act in the highest and truest way we know. Responsibility is not a guarantee of success, but a commitment to trying.

So why is responsibility seen by many as such an onerous burden? Responsibility becomes onerous when choice is removed from the equation, when we do not realise our freedom to act differently, when we forget that we are allowed to say no. Responsibility becomes pernicious when we take on too much, when we mistakenly think that more is always better, when we take on the guilt and expectations of others. Accepting too many responsibilities is, in fact, irresponsible – for it compromises our ability to respond. Do few things but do them well is the maxim of responsibility.

Being responsible also does not mean doing it all ourselves. Responsibility is a form of sharing, a way of recognising that we’re all in this together. Sole responsibility is an oxymoron …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/blog_meaning_responsibility_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Meaning of Responsibility (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org/”]Website[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) The Meaning of Responsibility, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 7 February 2012.

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CSR and Pharmaceuticals – Part 1

CSR and Pharmaceuticals:

Big Pharma on Trial – Part 1

Blog by Wayne Visser

Let’s take a look at one of the biggest crises the world still faces: HIV/AIDS. According to the November 2009 UNAIDS report, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. The number of people living with HIV has risen from around 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today, and is still growing. Around 67% of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa and Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans. At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide. In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs.

The topic of drugs presents a good case study in responsiveness (and the lack thereof). In 2001, Oxfam launched a campaign called ‘Cut the Cost’, challenging the pharmaceutical industry to address responsible drug pricing. In the same year, the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla cut the annual price of anti-retroviral AIDS drugs to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to $350, as compared with the global industry standard of $1,000, and the Western market price of $10,400. Cipla also announced its intention to allow the South African government to sell eight of its generic AIDS drugs, the patents for which were held by other companies.

MSF put pressure on the five major pharmaceutical companies involved in the UNAIDS Accelerating Access Initiative to match Cipla’s benchmark. And to some extent, they responded. Merck cut the price of its HIV/AIDS treatments for developing countries, including offering Crixivan at $600 and Stocrin at $500. Pfizer offered to supply antifungal medicine at no charge to HIV/AIDS patients in 50 AIDS stricken countries.

Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that it would not prevent generic-drug makers from selling low-cost versions of one of its HIV drugs (Zerit) in Africa. And Glaxo-SmithKline granted a voluntary licence to South African generics producer Aspen, allowing them to share the rights to GSK’s drugs (AZT, 3TC and Combivir) without charge.

So far so good. Apparently the drug companies are quite responsive. Why then, in 2001 (at the same time that they were doing all these good things), did 39 of the largest international pharmaceutical companies take the South African government to court over plans to introduce legislation aimed at easing access to AIDS drugs, arguing that it would infringe their patents and contravene the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement? Justin Forsyth, Oxfam Policy Director, said at the time, ‘This court case demonstrates how powerful drug companies are bullying poor countries just so they can protect their patent rights on lifesaving medicines.’

The pharmaceutical companies quickly realized that they had created a monster. Tens of thousands of people marched in protest all over the world, and 300,000 people from over 130 countries signed a petition against the action. Eventually, following public pressure, as well as pressure from the South African government and the European Parliament, Big Pharma dropped the case …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/blog_pharma1_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] CSR & Pharmaceuticals – Part 1 (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2011) CSR & Pharmaceuticals: Big Pharma on Trial – Part 1, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 3 June 2011.

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The Ages and Stages of CSR

The Ages and Stages of CSR:

Towards the Future with CSR 2.0

Paper by Wayne Visser

Abstract

This article argues that CSR, as a business, governance and ethics system, has failed. This assumes that success or failure is measured in terms of the net impact (positive or negative) of business on society and the environment. Hence, we need a different kind of CSR if we are to reverse the current direction of many of the world’s most pressing social, environmental and ethical trends. The article reviews business’s historical progress over the Ages and Stages of CSR: moving through the Ages of Greed, Philanthropy, Marketing and Management, using defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic CSR approaches respectively. It then examines the Three Curses of CSR 1.0 (incremental, peripheral and uneconomic), before exploring what CSR might look like in an emerging Age of Responsibility. This new CSR – called systemic or radical CSR, or CSR 2.0 – is based on five principles (creativity, scalability, responsiveness, glocality and circularity) and forms the basis for a new DNA model of responsible business, built around the four elements of value creation, good governance, societal contribution and environmental integrity.

If CSR is the answer, what is the question?

First let me say what I understand by CSR. I take CSR to stand for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, rather than Corporate Social Responsibility, but feel free use whichever proxy label you are most comfortable with. My definition is as follows: CSR is the way in which business consistently creates shared value in society through economic development, good governance, stakeholder responsiveness and environmental improvement. Put another way, CSR is an integrated, systemic approach by business that builds, rather than erodes or destroys, economic, social, human and natural capital.

Given this understanding, my usual starting point for any discussion on CSR is to argue that it has failed. I provide the data and arguments to back up this audacious claim in my new book, The Age of Responsibility, but the logic is simple and compelling. A doctor judges his/her success by whether the patient is getting better (healthier) or worse (sicker). Similarly, we should judge the success of CSR by whether our communities and ecosystems are getting better or worse. And while at the micro level – in terms of specific CSR projects and practices – we can show many improvements, at the macro level almost every indicator of our social, environmental and ethical health is in decline.

I am not alone in my assessment. Indeed, Paul Hawken stated in The Ecology of Commerce in 1993 that ‘If every company on the planet were to adopt the best environmental practice of the ‘‘leading’’ companies, the world would still be moving toward sure degradation and collapse.’ Unfortunately, this is still true nearly 20 years later. Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, agrees, saying: ‘I believe that the vast majority of companies fail to be ‘‘good’’ corporate citizens, Seventh Generation included. Most sustainability and corporate responsibility programs are about being less bad rather than good. They are about selective and compartmentalized ‘‘programs’’ rather than holistic and systemic change’ …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/paper_ages_stages_csr_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Ages & Stages of CSR (paper)

Related pages

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2011) The Ages and Stages of CSR: Towards the Future with CSR 2.0, CSR International Paper Series, No. 3. First published in Social Space 2011.

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The Call to Responsibility

The Call to Responsibility:

Our Ability to Respond

Chapter by Wayne Visser

Extract from The Age of Responsibility

Quotes

We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a Bill of Responsibilities. —Bill Maher

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities. —Josiah Charles Stamp

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean. —JohannWolfgang von Goethe

In times like these men should utter nothing for which they would not be willingly responsible through time and in eternity. —Abraham Lincoln

The Meaning of Responsibility

Do you sigh when you hear the word responsibility? Perhaps responsibility is even a dirty word in your vocabulary. Perhaps you associate it with burdens and restrictions; the opposite of being carefree and without obligations. But responsibility doesn’t have to be a chore, or a cage. It all depends how you think about it.

Responsibility is literally what it says – our ability to respond. It is a choice we make – whether to be attentive to our children’s needs, whether to be mindful of the plight of those less fortunate, whether to be considerate of the impact we have on the earth and others. To be responsible is to be proactive in the world, to be sensitive to the interconnections, and to be willing to do something constructive, as a way of giving back.

If we expect the right to fair treatment, we have a responsibility to respect the rule of law and honour the principle of reciprocity. If we believe in the right to have our basic needs met, we have the responsibility to respond when poverty denies those rights to others.

Taking responsibility, at home or in the workplace, is an expression of confidence in our own abilities, a chance to test our own limits, to challenge ourselves and to see how far we can go. Responsibility is the gateway to achievement. And achievement is the path to growth. Being responsible for something means that we are entrusted with realising its potential, turning its promise into reality. We are the magicians of manifestation, ready to prove to ourselves and to others what can happen when we put our minds to it, if we focus our energies and concentrate our efforts.

Being responsible for someone – another person – is an even greater privilege, for it means that we are embracing our role as caregivers, helping others to develop and flourish. This is an awesome responsibility, in the truest sense, one which should be embraced with gratitude, not reluctantly accepted with trepidation. Responsibility asks no more of us than that we try our best, that we act in the highest and truest way we know. Responsibility is not a guarantee of success, but a commitment to trying.

So why is responsibility seen by many as such an onerous burden? …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/book_aor_chap1.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Call to Responsibility (chapter)

Related pages

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this chapter

Visser, W. (2011) The Call to Responsibility: Our Ability to Respond, In W. Visser, The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business, London: Wiley.

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The Age of Responsibility

The Age of Responsibility:

CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business

Paper by Wayne Visser

Abstract

This paper argues that CSR, as a business, governance and ethics system, has failed. This assumes that success or failure is measured in terms of the net impact (positive or negative) of business on society and the environment. The paper contends that a different kind of CSR is needed if we are to reverse the current direction of many of the world’s most pressing social, environmental and ethical trends. The first part of the paper reviews business’s historical progress over the Ages and Stages of CSR: moving through the Ages of Greed, Philanthropy, Marketing and Management, using defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic CSR approaches respectively. The second part of the paper examines the Three Curses of Modern CSR (incremental, peripheral and uneconomic), before exploring what CSR might look like in an emerging Age of Responsibility. This new CSR – called systemic or radical CSR, or CSR 2.0 – is based on five principles (creativity, scalability, responsiveness, glocality and circularity) and forms the basis for a new DNA model of responsible business, built around the four elements of value creation, good governance, societal contribution and environmental integrity.

Taking Stock on CSR

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities – Josiah Charles Stamp

My starting point for any discussion on CSR – by which I mean corporate sustainability and responsibility, but choose whichever label you prefer (corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, sustainability, business ethics) – my starting point is to admit that CSR has failed. The logic is simple and compelling. A doctor judges his/her success by whether the patient is getting better (healthier) or worse (sicker). Similarly, we should judge the success of CSR by whether our communities and ecosystems are getting better or worse. And while at the micro level – in terms of specific CSR projects and practices – we can show many improvements, at the macro level almost every indicator of our social, environmental and ethical health is in decline.

I am not alone in my assessment or conclusion. Paul Hawken stated in The Ecology of Commerce (1994) that ‘if every company on the planet were to adopt the best environmental practice of the “leading” companies, the world would still be moving toward sure degradation and collapse.’ Unfortunately, this is still true. Jeffrey Hollender, founder and CEO of Seventh Generation, agrees, saying: ‘I believe that the vast majority of companies fail to be “good” corporate citizens, Seventh Generation included. Most sustainability and corporate responsibility programs are about being less bad rather than good. They are about selective and compartmentalized “programs” rather than holistic and systemic change’ (Hollender & Breen, 2010).

In fact, there are no shortage of critics of CSR. Christian Aid (2004) issued a report called ‘Behind the Mask: The Real Face of CSR’, in which they argued that ‘CSR is a completely inadequate response to the sometimes devastating impact that multinational companies can have in an ever-more globalised world – and it is actually used to mask that impact.’ A more recent example is …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/paper_age_responsibility_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Age of Responsibility (paper)

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1725159″]Link[/button] Social Science Research Network (website)

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Visser, W. (2010) CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business, Journal of Business Systems, Governance and Ethics, Vol. 5, No. 3, p. 7, 2010. Also published on SSRN at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1725159

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The Rise and Fall of CSR

The Rise and Fall of CSR:

Three Curses of CSR 1.0 and Five Principles of CSR 2.0

Article by Wayne Visser

Despite its seemingly impressive steady march of progress in the past decades, CSR has failed. Furthermore, we are witnessing the demise of CSR, which will continue until its natural death, unless it is reborn and rejuvenated.

CSR has undoubtedly had many positive impacts, for communities and the environment. Yet, its success or failure should be judged in the context of the total impacts of business on society and the planet. Viewed this way, on virtually every measure of social, ecological and ethical performance we have available, the negative impacts of business have been an unmitigated disaster, which CSR has completely failed to avert or even substantially moderate.

Why has CSR failed so spectacularly to address the very issues it claims to be most concerned about? This comes down to three factors – the Triple Curse of Modern CSR, if you like:

  1. Incremental CSR
  2. Peripheral CSR
  3. Uneconomic CSR

To get beyond these curses, we need a revolution that will, if successful, change the way we talk about and practice CSR and, ultimately, the way we do business. I call this new approach, CSR 2.0, where CSR stands for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility. There are five principles that make up the DNA of CSR 2.0:

  1. Creativity
  2. Scalability
  3. Responsiveness
  4. Glocality
  5. Circularity

Making a positive contribution to society is the essence of CSR 2.0  …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/inspiration_rise_fall_csr_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] The Rise and Fall of CSR (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”info” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Page[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2010) The Rise and Fall of CSR: The Three Curses of CSR 1.0 and the Five Principles of CSR 2.0, CSR International Inspiration Series, No. 7.

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