Why Has Corporate Social Responsibility Stalled?

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Why Has Corporate Social Responsibility Stalled?

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Has #CSR stalled? Find out why http://bit.ly/PQoD0b @PaulatImpakt on @3blmedia
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 10:30am



CSR has come a long way in a very short time. But while CSR remains a high priority, social performance has been lackluster and corporate leaders want to know how to increase the value of their investments in this area. In this context, it’s no surprise that Fast Forward is the theme of Business for Social Responsibility’s 20th Annual Conference that takes place in New York this week.

I had the opportunity to speak with Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR, about some of the challenges and opportunities that corporations face in this area. Here’s an edited summary of a long conversation I had with Aron about the state of CSR today:

Paul Klein: On the one hand, we don’t need to talk about the business case for CSR anymore. On the other hand, being “responsible” isn’t having the impact it once did. What do you think corporations ought to be doing to increase the value of their CSR efforts?

Aron Cramer: There is still a long way to go to fully integrate social, environmental, and governance questions into business strategy and operations. In BSR’s 20th Anniversary Report we identified four areas that we think are really important in terms of getting more traction and having more impact. The first is to continue to integrate CSR at the core of business with accountability systems. We also believe that the essence of sustainability needs to be fully integrated into the way markets work so that the short-term considerations that currently dominate our financial markets diminish because you eliminate barriers to greater progress. The third thing we talked about is looking at systems change – the need to look at how whole systems operate and how to embed CSR in these systems. Finally, businesses need to take advantage of the way our society is changing. Individuals are more empowered and connected than ever before and companies need new ways of communicating with and engaging the public.

Paul Klein founded Impakt in 2001 to help corporations become social purpose leaders and is considered a pioneer in the areas of corporate social responsibility.

Paul has helped Fortune 500 companies and other large corporations including BC Hydro, Canada Post, The Co-operators, De Beers, Hain-Celestial, Home Depot Canada, McKesson, Nestlé-Purina, National Bank, Petro-Canada, Pfizer, RONA, Shoppers Drug Mart, Starbucks, sanofi-aventis, and 3M to improve the value of their social purpose programs. Paul has also helped many leading non-profit organizations to build shared value partnerships with corporations.

Paul is a regular contributor to Forbes, has served on the Advisory Council of the Queen’s School of Business, and has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Aboriginal Human Resource Council of Canada, Association of Canadian Advertisers, Conference Board of Canada, Canadian Business and Community Partnership Forum, Canadian Stewardship Conference, and the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada.

Paul is regularly featured in the media as a corporate social responsibility source, was included in the Globe and Mail’s 2011 Leading Thinkers Series, and was recognized as one of America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior.