What’s next for corporate responsibility?

We’ve published a few articles predicting, or calling for an end to, corporate responsibility over our ten years publishing on EthicalCorp.com (check out the archive, it’s massive, all of CSR is in there 😉

So I am hesitant these days about running another piece with a similar title.

Yet this Op Ed, from Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollender and co-writer Bill Breen, is worth the title:

“Time for an end to corporate responsibility”

The authors, who have put out a new book I’ve been reading that is rather good (it’s actually readable, unlike many in the field), argue that: “whilst responsible business is more visible than ever, it’s lost a good deal of its power and potency”.

Why is this? Well, they say, because:

“…the events that triggered the Great Recession demonstrate that far too few companies are moving in a truly “responsible” direction”.

Hard to argue with that in many ways. And with this:

“Increasingly, bland buzzwords like “corporate responsibility” and “eco-efficiency” are being supplanted by a new vocabulary—“corporate consciousness,” “resource intelligence,” “social innovation,” and in M&S’s case, “how we do business”—that aims to capture a real-world sense of deeper business purpose.”

A very fair point. We all know we can’t sell three letter acronyms to the public, so why would two (CR) be any more effective?

Hollender and Breen argue that: “Corporate responsibility needs to work at the beginning of the innovation pipeline, where strategy is set and creativity occurs, rather than at the end, where outcomes are audited, after-action CR reports are filed, and the marketing department takes over.”

They cite examples such as Nike, IBM and Linden Labs as examples.

I couldn’t agree more. We need more firms to look at it this way, and we are seeing that. It’s just not happening as fast as we all would like. It needs brave leadership, and for the lawyers to be slapped down and put in their place, among other things.

I’d like to focus this blog more and more on highlighting the work of the true innovators in CR/sustainability.

Let me know who YOU think they are, and I’ll write about them. Sound like a fair deal?

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