From the premier issue of Good
magazine comes this editorial on the ethics of corproate social responsibility by Jonathan Greenblatt (Co-founder of Ethos Water and a former vice-presdient of consumer products at Starbucks Coffee Company).
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- Doublespeak: Do Companies Really Give a Damn?
Here are a few excerpts:
If you read the business press, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the new new thing. At a time when oil conglomerates are "earning" record profits and the dust is still settling from the Enron verdict, social responsibility has become the latest mantra of corporations looking to redeem their public image. It's now vogue for captains of industry to claim they are motivated not only by a desire for better earnings but also by a desire to save the planet.
Because of such naked deceptions, corporate social responsibility runs the risk of joining other management fads from the ages—in the dustbin. And if treated merely as a cosmetic, it is doomed to fail. The desire to do the right thing must be bound up in the very fabric of a business, helping to guide its efforts to increase revenue or reduce expenses, or else the business will invariably make short-term decisions that drive immediate profits at the expense of good long-term behavior. Authenticity cannot be cooked up after the fact: it must be present from the beginning.
CSR does not stand for Corporate Spin and Rhetoric. It cannot succeed as a marketing plan to placate critics. Companies need to build brands and implement business strategies that are grounded in an ethical framework. When thoughtful behavior inspires a corporation from the start, the company can win on multiple levels. And when managers throughout the organization are rewarded for putting sustainability first, the company has a much better chance of creating success that serves the needs of all stakeholders.