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My thoughts to CSR

CSR is in the public. Yes, indeed. I remember my studies of economics more than 10 years ago.  I learned a lot about ethics and coprorate culture. What’s the difference between ethics and CSR? In my eyes the complete each other. CSR is part of the ethics of a company. The ethics should take care about social responsibilty and of exisitng resources also.

The special thing about CSR is that it is a “soft” area. Keyfigures or indicators have to be defined and are rather “soft” than “hard”. So how can CSR be measured? How much affects it hard financial facts, e.g revenue or share holder value and all that keyfigures companies are driven by today? Do customers buy more of our products because we do “CSR”?  Is there a chance to establish a CSR scorecard or integrate CSR into a balanced scorecard?  A lot of questions, I konw, but if you have ideas, please tell me.

CSR is not just a process that can be established and changed later on to achieve better performance or rise share holder value. It’s an idea and sort of philosophy how a company is driven. It’s very dependent on the management and of course of the employees. So it really depends on YOU and your atttiude towards how we will ive in 20 or 30 years or how will live our kids. 

Putting it into software is another question. First you have to define the keyfigures for your company. A list of possible keyfigures defined so far can be found in the wiki. Then you have to define the processes as classical input-output-processes. Define which factors come in and which indicator gets out. I think, the puzzling question is how to integrate these processes in the existing core business processes. This can be done with eSOA, no question. But what is the benefit and why should a company do it? Other questions are: Who is responsible? What happens if an indicator value is too high or too low?

What can SAP do for it? Well, fist of all define keyfigures or indicators and secondly processes that explain how the keyfigures can be derived. The processes or the derivation of the indicators may be different for some branches or maybe there are branch specific indicators. Nice to have would be CSR scorecards or dashboards or how ever you call them. And the most important thing a strong message how CSR improves share holder or stake holders revenue! It’s a very long way, no question and that’s just the beginnig. But hopefully it takes us to sort of a “better world”.

So far my thoughts and questions, let me share it with yours.

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  • Great post and thanks for that. This is an area that is exercising my brain as well. I think we should be starting from the position of identifying business risks at the macro (ie industry) level and then refining them to the case in hand.

    So for example, history tracing for components. Does XYZ supplier use child labour? Does it pay fair wages?

    The point you make about it (I think) not being a static thing is crucially important. Therefore any attempt to start working on this needs a flexible framework. That’s something SAP has not been traditionally too good at though I understand (I’m not geeky) eSOA *should* help.

    • You’ve just been the catalyst of an idea for the CSR wiki space.  There is an area out there already for contents and discussions around Performance Indicators:
      It’s very skeletal.  Perhaps thinking from inception about these business risks (as well as the performance indicators that would be used as standards for accessment) and being able to link or map them to industry topics might be a useful way of organizing pages and information.  I’m not sure I myself understand what we might be doing with the newly created wiki space in CSR.  Perhaps creating the framework for the flexible framework 🙂
  • Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. You wrote: “very dependent on the management and of course of the employees’
    So does that mean that in your opinion these are too organization specific to be shared or made into templates for reuse outside of a particular organization?  Or could there be some flexible services that use generic attributes but whose methods are organization specific?  If so ESOA would be a good fit indeed, as you and Dennis suggests.
    • I think there are indicators which are common to any organization but also some who should be made into templates for later reuse and modification. A flexible service that use generic attributes but whose methods are organizatoin specific wuold be terrific! Great idea!