Is CSR Dead? Barclays Debates

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Is CSR Dead? Barclays Debates

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Find out what #CSR professionals thought of our #BarclaysDebate here: http://3bl.me/addk79 @Barclays_cship
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 11:00am

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The fourth event in Barclays’ live debate platform series, ‘Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) dead?’, saw global leaders in sustainability take to the stage for a thought-provoking discussion. 

For the past five years Barclays has been striving to meet the ambitious targets in its Citizenship Plan and is now developing the next phase of its strategy. When CSR itself is held up as part of the problem rather than the solution, it forces reappraisal of the direction, ambition level and focus areas that businesses pursue. Barclays has listened to and been inspired by a lot of expert opinions about the future of CSR, and explored the topic further in the latest Barclays Debate.

Business leaders, social entrepreneurs, and academics gathered at the British Library on Thursday, 8 October for the event. Pioneer of 'shared value’, Mark Kramer, was first to take to the floor, putting forward his argument that companies can increase profits, reduce costs, and enhance competitiveness by solving social problems. He claimed that “profit is magic” – if you can use a business model to solve a big social problem, you can scale it.

However John Elkington argued this did not go far enough.  He outlined the case for greater ambition and 'breakthrough capitalism', in which business leaders would take steps to transform the systems they operate within, to ultimately revolutionise the market.

Business leaders, social entrepreneurs, and academics gathered at the British Library on Thursday 8th October for the event. Pioneer of 'shared value’, Mark Kramer, was first to take to the floor, putting forward his argument that companies can increase profits, reduce costs, and enhance competitiveness by solving social problems. He claimed that “profit is magic” – if you can use a business model to solve a big social problem, you can scale it.

However John Elkington argued this did not go far enough.  He outlined the case for greater ambition and 'breakthrough capitalism', in which business leaders would take steps to transform the systems they operate within, to ultimately revolutionise the market.

Both were given the chance to have another panel member back their position, following lively input from the audience. Janet Voûte, Global Head of Public Affairs at Nestlé, argued it was critical that any social agenda was embedded within their business to make a long-term impact. Patrick Thomas, Chairman and CEO of Covestro, shared his mantra that "if you’re not failing regularly, you’re not trying hard enough". He demonstrated that innovation is key to business success and that CSR helps us move beyond incremental improvement to push boundaries.

While the debate began with a relatively even split amongst the audience, a poll at the end of the evening revealed John Elkington's argument that CSR is not dead as the runaway winner.

Read the full report that summarises the discussion

Keywords: Events, Media & Communications | Barclays | Business Leaders | csr | csr debate | social entrepreneurs

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