Adapting Models for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
November 11, 2018
CSR had it’s unofficial birth in the early 1970s as global organizations sought to look for new, respected ways of connecting with customers while generating analyst attention through giving back to the market. While the intent was altruism, the result became a laudable means of balancing Capitalist fervor against a desire for increasing exposure. For close to 50 years the trend has grown and reshaped aspects of every major brand, along with many midsize and smaller corporate players. Today, countless startups deliberately build from the ground up on a structure of CSR, seeking differentiation and notoriety on service in search of revenue.
In 2014, India took a leadership role as the world’s first nation to mandate CSR as a defined percentage of revenue expenditure. No surprise the land of karma and dharma would step to the plate. But lately, as the concept rolls on and morphs into expectation over differentiation, the marketplace has begun a seismic shift in the how, what, and why of corporate social responsibility.
A recent CSR Journal report by Namita Vikas of YES Bank posits that companies around the globe are moving toward a revised shared value approach that aims to move CSR from a line-item expenditure to an embedded aspect of a corporation’s core culture. This move is designed not just to extend communal goodwill or logical industry stature, but to rebuild accounting standards in a way that incorporates CSR spending into an organization’s base structural spending.
Vikas explains, “When corporat(ions) treat CSR simply as an expenditure to be made for compliance, it becomes more of a liability than a step towards social transformation. There is a need to create a business case for CSR in order for it to be embedded into a corporat(ion)’s business strategy.” The argument is that CSR is no longer about compliance, but more of a recognized investment in a shared value business model that benefits society, tackling long-term socio-environmental impacts of businesses in a cross-border economy in a march toward sustainability and expansive public improvement.
Can and will the “new” CSR achieve these goals? Only time will tell. Can corporate structures, held together by red tape and mired in bottom-line driven hierarchy, rise to the occasion? Perhaps. But the imperative is clear; young people demand and expect CSR in every aspect of a brand’s culture, as shoppers, as voters, and as employees.
Look to Silicon Valley and the ways west coast HR departments lure top talent to their playgrounds in the sky. Look to New York and Washington DC where Amazon will build it’s divided HQ2s because that’s where the best and brightest are available to the retail behemoth. Want to bring the stars to your shores? Deeply embedded CSR is a good place to start.
Top photo credit: © Saraya