Do you want to find the answer to all world problems?

10 May

Then you shouldn’t read further…

This is about Corporate Social Responsibility. Impressive word.
But what does it mean?
A blog I found  states:

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”

 When I told some friends that I was planning to have my next blog post about CSR I got different reactions:

“Again?”; “Corporate …What?”; “Good choice! I wrote a post about CSR, too!”; “Businesses only do that for ‘greenwashing’”

Greenwashing-another frequently used word.
And what is that supposed to mean?
Firms may announce:

  • green projects
  • energy reductions
  • pollution reduction efforts

when really being unwilling to be committed to sustainable initiatives or even damage the environment. The reason why firms are “lying” about their CSR reports is that consumers prefer ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ brands. This is why CSR seems to be the mighty marketing weapon in the modern business environment, as more and more consumer demand a higher awareness of ethics, environment and sustainability. However, a company is always on the save side being honest about their sustainability efforts.

Also blogger James Epstien-Reeves gives 6 reasons  why it is not only important to think in terms of CSR but also it can have a great side effect concerning innovation and development:

  1. Innovation
    Geoff McDonald used the term “lens of sustainability” to explain that a company’s research and development on new ways to be sustainable can lead to innovative products. Thus a firm can only profit form it.
  2. Cost savings
    ‘Cutting cost’ is probably the most used word in a business career. I as an economics student hear about it in nearly every class I take. In addition it is one of the easiest ways for a firm to begin its engagement in sustainability. Less energy use or less packaging not only contribute to more sustainability but also saves a lot of additional costs. Coca Cola UK for example, published detailed data on its carbon footprint of its ‘Coca Cola’, ‘Diet Coke’ and ‘Coke Zero’ brands. It does not need an early childhood education degree to know that saving energy does not only protect the environment but also enables the company to stay more profitable.
  3. Brand differentiation 
    used to be one of the main reasons for firms to improve their CSR reports. Nowadays, since consumer preferences tend to go in the same direction, CSR is not an easy place to differentiate one brand from another. If we take the preceding example of Coca Cola, we can think about the brand differentiation or the “Cola Wars” between Coca Cola and Pepsi.The two companies are known for trying to capture as much market shares as possible from each other. However, concerning their CSR strategy to do so, they adopted similar approaches. They both provide a sustainable packaging of water bottles, for example. And as we already learned, the reduction of packaging contributes to higher profits. So maybe they still do not differ that much, but they both found a way to save money!
  4. Long-term thinking
    contributes to the growth of a company and a sustainable future. What a firm plans for the next 10 years can have positive effects concerning their own profitablity but also on employees and the environment.
  5. Customer engagement
    In fact CSR may help a company to engage with its costumers in a new way. Being ‘green’ can contribute to a greater communication with consumer.
  6. Employee engagement
    A companies employees have to know what the companies sustainability efforts are and should get involved themselves. Microsoft is a good example: Its Sustainability Champions Program is a volunteer program that aims at its employees to be a leading example for reducing the energy consumption. Check out their video:

 It may be that companies only consider CSR as a great tool to pretend their sustainability. However, if that is the only method to have companies concerned about ethical and social problems, then I find this ‘mighty marketing tool’ a great solution -not for all of our world’s problems- but for a great deal of negative externalities firms provide.


7 Responses to “Do you want to find the answer to all world problems?”

  1. Alexandra May 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Hey Rose, thank you for this interesting post. I already have some thoughts on the topic of CSR, because we talked about it in HRM and Work, Business&Society, but you definitly managed to bring up some new elements! I know that CSR is important for the image of a company, but I have never heard the term “greenwashing” before! I really liked the way you structured your text and that you found suitable pictures for this theoretical topic. Your conclusion surprised me, because I haven’t looked at it that way yet. But of course your right: even if the motives some companies have are wrong, it’s still better if they implement CSR structures than if they don’t. Great job!

    • rosepanama May 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Alex! That’s true I haven’t heard about greenwasching either until I read some blog posts about CSR. I think it is a very interesting topic. I didn’t focus too much on it in this post, because I wanted to name some positive “side effects” if firms embrace CSR. However, it could be an interesting topic to do further research on 😉

  2. sabrinacz May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Hey Rose!
    I really like your post, as you probably noticed it is also related to the post that I have written about the Club of Rome. Both posts are concerned with the future of our world, especially the environmental issues.
    In my opinion, it is very important that companies engage in CSR, not only for marketing strategies, but also for to “save out world”. And I am really happy about the increasing awareness between the consumers.
    I will go on with my researches on the topic, which developments may occur in the future. And your post gave me some new ideas and view points on the whole.

  3. HAS June 3, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Hey Rose!

    What a nice blog post and I really appreciate that you tried to talk about this very current topic in a very critical manner. I liked that you figured out your own work hypothesis and at the end gave your own reflection. The structure of your text was easy to follow and not confusing at all. You really learned how to attract readers over the time, not only by the things I already mentioned, but also with your very appealing title. I really thought you will provide me with the solution to all world problems 😉 Nevertheless, your article was as interesting as this would have been and at the end you closed the frame again, which I consider very sophisticated. Moreover, the list gives a great overview and is a nice way to display things.

    However, I have a little suggestion for you. As far as I am concerned I miss the magic white space in your article. This would make your article just perfect and I guess you should try using white space very aware in one of your next post, because just look how well this works in terms of clear arrangement and reading-flow:

    Apart from that: good job


  1. ExxonMobil and the value of CSR « fastexposure - May 31, 2012

    […] Rose one of our fellow Bloggers wrote a great post explaining the concept of CSR and Greenwashing “Do you want to find the answer to all world problems?”. […]

  2. CSR – from a manager’s point of view « hit the nail on the top - June 7, 2012

    […] can actually contribute to better innovation and development within a firm as I stated in my last blog post about CSR. Now, I want to have a closer look on that […]

  3. Green Industry from many points of view « hit the nail on the top - June 15, 2012

    […] in more posts about that issue, check out this post about recycling and sustainability or that post concerned with CSR and […]

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