Reporting Guidelines for CSR

28 Jun

Corporate Social Responsibility efforts of a company are on a purely voluntary basis. However,  as demand is increasing more and more firms try to set up a CSR department in order to stay competitive.

Are there any formal regulations that firms can follow?

There is the attempt of ISO 26000:2010 to provide guidelines for developing and implementing a CSR strategy.
However, Jo Bilson, management consultant, criticises in her blog post the lack of any formal regulations concerning CSR efforts. This is also emphasized on this website. Here it is pointed out that ISO 26000:2010 is “not a management system standard”. It can not be understood as a certification since there are no approved norms concerning CSR. Thus, it is merely an attempt to assist firms that are concerned about their corporate sustainability.

Atos, an international IT service company, makes use of a different approach:

GRI-Global Reporting Initiative 

GRI is a non-profit organization that developed a Sustainability Reporting Framework that is also used by Atos. In their CSR report 2011, Thierry Brenton, Chairman and CEO, proudly pronounces Atos success in the GRI rating program. Atos was awarded an A+, which is the highest possible ranking. Becaus of this ranking, Atos declares themselves to be a “sustainablity leader”. This is what Elaine Cohen, CSR consultant, criticizes in her blog “The A+ Myth of Sustainablity Reporting: Stop the Hype”. She wonders whether the achievement of an A+ level  is conterminous with “sustainability leadership”? According to Elaine Cohen, the so called “GRI reporting standards” are rather setting standards on how to improve a firm’s reporting level rather than focusing on the report substance.

Right after the foreword of the CEO, the CSR report provides some key performance indicators in terms of money.

Jo Bilson supports Atos’ mention of financial achievements in a different post “Budgeting for Corporate Social Responsibility”. Here she assures that investors and other stakeholder increasingly demand transparent and accurate financial statements of companies. The financial budgeting plays a major role in this context. Bilson emphasizes the necessity of a well-structured CSR budgeting process. One advantage Bilson sees when improving a firm’s CSR budgeting process is the ability to free up cash by optimized accuracy of cash flow reporting that then can be used for CSR strategies.

In their CSR report 2011 Atos claims to report according to globally accepted reporting standards, here GRI.

Jo Bilson objects to the assertion of Atos to align to a general reporting standard.

In her blog post Jo Bilson points out the main criticisms of CSR:

  1. lack of regulation
  2. misuse as a marketing ploy
  3. abuse of power by decision-making companies in the social domain
According to Bilson one main failure of missing regulations is due to the notion of voluntariness that CSR is surrounded by. Since standardization is not given, Bilson complains, that especially CSR reports of transnational firms are harder to evaluate and compare.
Moreover, Bilson warns that due to the lack of formal regulations, managers responsible for CSR might see their opportunity to increase their power position within the company.

Generally spoken, she criticizes the actual trend of adopting Corporate Citizenship within businesses. She underlines her argumentation by referring to Milton Friedman’s famous article in The New York Times Magazine. According to Friedman the only “social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”. Friedman calls businessmen, attempting to convince the world that they have real social consciousness, “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces”.

Finally, if we believe in Friedman’s words then:

“there is one and only one social responsibility of business-to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

You can’t buy healthiness!

27 Jun

“Sounds quite like a fairytale”:

“ When I was a little girl I always dreamed of becoming a famous star, known all over the world. Maybe a beautiful singer like Whitney Houston or a graceful actress or a Victory Secret model with a perfect body.”

Alright, who of us has not dreamed at least once about being super star?! You have thousands of  fans, you have your personal body guard and all the money in the world to buy everything you long for. And all you have to do for it is walking all the red carpets in the world always carrying a smile on you your face and maybe going on stage from time to time hailed by hundreds of people who adore you or playing the main role in the next Hollywood blog buster.

Sounds like the perfect life, right? But most people only see the enigmatic façade behind which stars hide their unhappiness and the difference to us “normal” people is that they are not allowed to show it because they must keep up appearances.

Where the idea came from:

This is my last blog post and in the beginning I didn’t know what to right about because in my opinion I had already discussed most possible topics related to burnout which was my initial idea in the beginning for the last four weeks.

So I asked my group members what they want me to address in my last blog post that is somehow related to burnout. and the two lovely girls Angi and Sabrina brought me to the idea that it would be quite nice to get away from managers burnout and start talking about stars and what kind of problems they have to face with burnout and if this differs from the things I have already talked about in my former blog posts. And a big thanks to Angi for having provided me with a link where I found some interesting information on that topic.

So here we go:

Are stars more at risk that others?:

At least 300,000 people in Germany suffer from a burnout. Not the weak ones, or the mid-life crisis-afflicted people burn out. Those who are the committed, high performers, for whom the sudden loss of energy is like a beat in the face are the ones who burn out. The ones from whom one would have never expected it, though it seems quite logical: Only those who burn for what they are doing can also burn out which is usual for celebrities because they love what they are doing.

And the age of those who are at risk of having a burnout drops dramatically: young celebrities such like Oliver Kahn (36), Sven Hannawald (30), Sebastian Deisler (25) and Britney Spears (23) came out to be a victim of the burnout syndrome. Even among non-celebrities, the pressure is growing enormously. According to a recent reader survey by “karriere” more than one-third suffers from an extreme workload, and one out of five fears for the job.

The pressure is everywhere:

“Young people who want to make a career are the perfect victims. They show maximum effort and the willingness to shift everything until later: normal working hours, family, leisure. “

says Angelika Kallwass, an economist and psychologist.

Here, she says that in a more general way but I think it applies also to stars and other celebrities because most of the time they are not given a chance to live a life that someone would consider as “normal”. They have to travel from one end of the world to another and usually do not get a chance to spend a lot of time with their families Stars like Britney Spears are especially affected because her career already started when she was a child.

The soap stars:

They play in the ideal world of soap operas, but many of the young soap actors, cannot bear the long days of shooting, the sudden popularity and the often excessive adoration of fans, not quite as simple as their series-ego can handle all the problems of everyday life, kidnapping, addictions and heartbreaks.

Examples of German soap stars with burnout are:

  • GZSZ star Nina Bott quit her role in 2005 because she couldn’t hold up against the pressure anymore
  • Christiane Klimt left the set of “Alles was zählt”
  •  also soap stars such as Stephen Dürr, Valerie Niehaus or “Marienhof” veteran Michael Hunter all finished their careers due to  a series of stress, exhaustion and a feeling burnout

The musicians:

The music industry is considered one of the hardest in show business. Not only top figures in record sales, also endless self-promotion and countless performances are part of the daily workload. No wonder that even in this “celebrity division” some are burnt out completely:


  • Rosenstolz-Singer Peter Plate
  • crooner Wolfgang Petry
  • even very young musicians are affected. A member of the boy band US5, Chris Watrin left the band in 2008
  • also international super stars had to take a break to rearrange their lives like Eminem, Robbie Williams and Mariah Carey

Celebrities from all subjects:

Whether a juror or super star chef, bestselling author or political hope, life as a public figure with massive media attention that is a burden on these ever-present faces, seems to be huge. Even here in Germany, there are many prominent burnout victims who realized at some point in time that they needed a break.

Examples from Germany:

  • celebrity chef Tim Mälzer due to his TV cooking show “Schmeckt nicht gibt’s nicht”
  • runway-coach and TV juror in “Das Supertalent” Bruce Darnell admitted that he also suffered from a burnout before he started working for TV
  • successful author Frank Schätzing, who wrote the best- selling novel “Der Schwarm” suffered also from the burnout syndrome
  •  prime minister of Brandenburg Matthias Platzeck


This shows that a burnout can happen to everyone and surprisingly there are many people in the show business who suffer from a burnout and here I have only listed a few of them who are mostly from Germany but this list could go on and on and on if you also consider all the international stars which I didn’t talk about

This shows once again that even stars cannot always be happy even if they pretend to be and what’s the most important all their money can’t make them healthy. That is one thing stars and celebrities have to do on their own, to press the stop button and organize life in a more healthier way what most of them have done but the latest cases of Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse show that it can also end differently.

Disadvantages of lean management

26 Jun

In my last article I wrote about lean management and that this strategy is a great innovation for many reasons, and one of them is time saving. Well of course this is great, I do less and do get more time to do other things. But on the other hand I feel like I am always under pressure.  In the sense of I have more time for other things, so during the day I do a lot more, in the end I am busy the hole day. And I get this uncomfortable feeling- this will never end- which can lead to burn out (read more about this in Jules post).

From this perspective, I began to search for the disadvantages of lean management. For my essay in Work Business & Society I am reading “The Machine that changed the world” is a report that is written by Daniel T. Jones. I found really interesting disadvantages from the Japanese perspective.

Continue reading


25 Jun

A lot of companies are using Social Media and Networks for the recruiting process. They want to find out more about the job candidates. It is important for them to get to know how this person acts in “real life”.

Often it is the case that job candidates dissimulate during the job interview and the recruiter therefore cannot find out, what kind of person is sitting in front of him or her.

At this point Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are jumping in and changing the whole first impression that you got from the job candidate. Those Social Networks could change the opinion of the hiring manager from hiring you to definitely NOT hiring you. But what could you do to improve your whole online profile?

Continue reading

NGOs – the consultants

21 Jun

Opponents of CSR argue that resources spent on other than economic goals are an unnecessary waste of it. However, as I have already mentioned in my last blog post CSR strategies can actually come along with a range of benefits that can outweigh its costs. CSR engagement can really become a necessity for well-organized and well-structured business. Now, the questions raises:

Where do I get a skilled and valuable CSR manager from?

When thinking about NGOs and large companies putting all their efforts into their salient goal of profit, I did not expect the two to work hand in hand to improve sustainability. Yet, a very interesting blog post of Vijan Kanal proved me wrong. Continue reading

Work- Life Balance

20 Jun

In my last two blog posts “Burnout Syndrome: A Disease of Modern Societies?” and “Have you reached your limit yet?, I wrote about the burnout syndrome and how it is related to student’s work load at university.

Today, I want to discuss a concept which is very much related to the topic of burnout because in many guidebooks it seems to be the perfect way to cure people from a burnout syndrome or to even prevent it: Work-Life Balance!

When I first heard these work in my human resources class last semester, I thought this is something really great and helpful in our modern world of working where more and more women go to work and also want to have a family. But then I questioned myself if this concept of Work-Life Balance is really the perfect compensation between job, family and hobby? Continue reading

Lean management

19 Jun

Many people want to achieve much through little effort and there is nothing wrong with it. Because time is valuable and you have to use the time efficiently. Through small changes in the everyday life, we get much more than by radical changes. For example: people who have no time to exercise, but really want it can make use of interval training.

“High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise,” said Jan Helgerud. It also saves a lot of time because it is much shorter than the normal training.

And for successful companies lean management is the right thing.

  Continue reading