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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.”

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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

“The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife!”

14 Jun

Recycling-one of the may simplest ways to contribute to a better environment. For some it’s cumbersome, for some it’s natural and for some it’s business.

Sustainability within firms has gained more and more interest within the last years. If firms want to differentiate their products from similar brands, they try to do something special, something good, something in the actual customer’s interest. Continue reading

CSR – from a manager’s point of view

7 Jun

When first being confronted with corporate social responsibility, I thought that a firm’s sustainability approaches restrict their ability to maximize profits. However, I learned that CSR 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 aspect!

  • What do managers think about CSR programs?
  • Is it in their personal interest?
  • Can their firm be profitable while spending enormous amounts of money on CSR strategies?
  • Is it solely for a better reputation? Continue reading

An invitation to get surprised

31 May

Everybody knows:
Germans can’t dance! Germany and Dance seem to have about as much in common as Italy and orderly traffic or Great Britain and excellent cuisine. But just in case you belong to the daring dancers, ready to lay aside obsolete stereotypes, here is one good advice: put on your dancing shoes, step out into Berlin’s flourishing dancing scene and let yourself be surprised! Continue reading

Let’s get creative!

24 May

For this blog post idea I got inspired by one of my personal addictions: Fruit Ninja!!!
I suppose most of you know this really fun app where you have to cut all kinds of exotic fruits to get a high score. Actually, I blame my friend Sophia for making me addicted to this game. She introduced this ipone app to me one night we went out to have some drinks with our friends. After spending one hour not talking to any of them but with a score of 300, my other friend Jana turned to me and said: “I guess the inventor of Fruit Ninja is a millionaire by now!”

Apps as a business idea- I found that to be a very interesting topic to gather more information. Continue reading

Let’s get motivated for change!!!

17 May

How do I motivate myself? Under what conditions am I willing to work hard? Is it just for a good grade or for myself? Do I work hard to impress the professor? Or am I concerned about what my future job will be? Do I want to earn a lot of money? What makes me move personally? And what’s about change? Am I able to adapt to personal changes as well as changes concerning my business environment?
These are all questions that I’ve been asking myself and my friends recently. It’s not always easy to deal with changing condition; be it a new professor that demands a lot from you or a new living situation. Life always changes, and we frequently need to adapt to it. Finding our personal motivation to deal with changes can be applied to our professional motivation as well.

So let’s transfer the personal adaptation troubles to a higher level:
Change Management within a company! Continue reading