CSR - Can business pick up the baton?
The world is changing and there are those amongst us that say it's not for the better. There comes a point when people used to say ‘enough is enough’ but a tipping point is being reached whereby the people alone are not enough. Our society is made up of three key and distinct groups, they being government, community and business, with the community being the ‘people’.
Sadly, a lot of us are feeling a little let down by our governments. And the trouble is that it’s not getting any better. And that only leaves business! So, I ask the question…. can business pick up the challenge and drive social change?
In today’s business language, we have a term called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It can be easily defined as ‘the responsibility to minimise our negative impact on the community and society, and maximise our positive impact on the community and society.’ This is a wonderful ideal but it comes at a cost. Firstly, a business needs to achieve the bottom line before it can effectively implement a CSR policy. If it doesn’t and it goes broke, then no CSR plans will ever be implemented! Therefore, it can be deduced that it needs to make a profit before it can be socially orientated.
There is an organisation that has set itself the task of improving the business world and that is the United Nations Global Compact. It has established a code of 10 Principles that organisations can agree to follow but the catch is that you need to ‘sign up’ to this deal and report yearly on your progress. These 10 Principles are built around human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. This is a real living CSR.
Nevertheless, this sort of commitment needs transformational leadership. A manager who is also a leader. Someone who can inspire the organisation to not only talk the ethos of CSR but also adopt the working philosophy of CSR and implement it. The organisation cannot do it without the leader and the leader cannot do it without the people. It’s a team effort.
There is a sense of spiritual nobility in humankind when a person serves the community and their fellow brothers and sisters. We now need to create the same circumstances whereby the spiritual nobility of a business is evoked to support our environment and community. Otherwise it may all become too late, with the baton left behind.
- Kel Gleeson