CSR and/or sustainability are still relatively new words in the business context. Even though they have been in use for a couple of decades, their meaning still hasn’t reached the very depths of some business minds. Discussions about CSR and sustainability began with nerdy terms and definitions and have evolved to include financial value of CSR efforts, the potential of CSR as a marketing and branding tool and its other practical applications. But many business dimensions, where these discussions are still treated as pure theory, delegate CSR agenda to CSR and sustainability departments.
Nevertheless, more and more companies discover the meaning, purpose and effects of doing business responsibly instead of doing business as usual. Many far-from-CSR managers have heard about CSR and even met one or two real CSR managers during conferences and workshops. But they will never get the whole point unless they put on CSR glasses and look at their company through them.
Those CSR glasses cannot be rose-colored, otherwise it has nothing to do with CSR. It’s mere greenwashing. Actually if you look at a circle color scale you’ll see that there are nuances of green and pink that are right across each other. Everything between green and pink colors on the color scale represents the real world where businesses operate. This is what the CSR glasses should incorporate. And a strong internal communication, of course.
Today most industries rotate within their own CSR-application: we’re reading about green IT, sustainable biotech, faire trade coffee and many other great things. Sometimes one can get an impression that companies claim to “own” their CSR application. And this is definitely a positive (although a bit too ambitious) shift towards more responsibility in business. Financial motivation, company reputation, CSR as a marketing tool and other perks cannot – and often are not – underestimated. But when will we see an all-round integration? When will we read about sustainable chocolate trade based on green IT solutions and operated through responsible banking as much as we read about eco bananas?
CSR is not only on the businesses’ agenda; it has its own agenda now, and it’s all about integration and building platforms and bridges. We cannot be sure if this process is completely self-sufficient or if it needs support, so we’ll keep working to engage different parties and create sustainable value for everyone involved.