Thinking about CSR and the next step forward!
Solution or a subject?
It appears to me that CSR could be thought of as
– a solution, and as
– a subject, such as Accounting, HR etc.
It may be seen as a solution in a given context when a corporate
– responds to a request for help from a member of the society;
– recognizing a problem on their own, provide help; and
– continues a tradition of ‘giving’.
Builder of an image of Responsiveness
In a solution-situation, the decision is made and justification is built around it for accountability purpose, genuinely.
This kind of repeated response is seen by the society as the ‘responsiveness’ of the company. A tradition gets set and whoever be the CEO, certain contribution is made to retain ‘responsiveness’; content may vary, but contribution continues.
The company’s helpful responsiveness also may vary depending upon whether it is
– normal time,
– abnormal time, and/or
– emergency time.
Every company does a little good, some more than others
It is doubtful whether there would be any one who has not come to know about the contribution of a company in their vicinity for their good.
May be it is not sustained or not of significant scale. Some may be merely symbolic and some mere gesture. Some may be return oriented. There certainly would be some companies who have not made a step in this direction too.
A study of such contributions would reveal the potential of the corporate influence on society for the good of all.
For instance, about our earlier company, when we recall the contribution made by the company for education, we almost say that the out put of the company was ‘bright students’, and not iron ore concentrate!
Of course, the study would reveal the scope for improvement also.
The gap between potential to do good and the size of problems
In spite of their potential to do better, it is noticed that the social problems are becoming huge, threatening the survival of the companies in their locations. It no longer appears that one can be anecdotal or merely traditional in their responsiveness or turn a blind eye to the situation in their surroundings.
Thus it appears to become necessary that every company substantially take part in the renewal of the nearby society, the larger society and the globe as well, for the good of the company as well as the society.
CSR as an evolving subject of great relevance
It is then that it becomes essential to view CSR as a subject and get to know its value and validity as a function in a company on equal footing with other disciplines.
I found ‘Corporate Timeline’ a good place to start with to know first about corporate bodies. There may be many other sites, but I happened to land on this site:corporatetimeline@openDemocracy.net
It is a compilation of corporate events starting with the first company incorporated, followed by other major events from the year 1800. Good to know kind of stuff. One can take lead from there and get to know further details.
Undesirable events have also taken place. Certain landmark events also have taken place. The only way to progress is promoting the beneficial events and reducing the adverse events.
It appears that it is such progressive approach by some of the companies and the results of their action that has given rise to the subject of CSR. Whether it was due to external pressure or internal pressure or due to own volition may be set aside and due credit may be given to the corporate.
Evidence of activities under CSR
The website http://www.csrwire.com/ is seen to provide ample examples of contribution by companies under CSR. Such examples also may be serving as benchmark for other companies.
For some glimpse of CSR in India one of the websites that provide information is http://www.afhd.org/ .This organization publishes a journal titled Catalyst and the issue No.6 is on CSR. It is available online at this site.
Contribution by ISO
Seized of the enormity of social issues and their impact on trade and the need for systematic approach to CSR, the ISO is coming up with a standard on CSR. It is a guide on Social Responsibility applicable to any type of organization, including corporate bodies. It is not meant for certification purpose. It is not a management system standard, but compatible with them, it is said.
‘Why a standard for CSR?, ‘How did it evolve?’, ‘What is the ground work undertaken?’ are some of the questions that came to my mind. These questions were amply answered by the presentations and papers at the following links:
i)The recent press release regarding ISO 26000 standard on Social Responsibility http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1158
ii) A presentation on the development process
iii) Report by ISO COPOLCO on Desirability and Feasibility of ISO CSR Standards refered in the following site:
Role for BPX
It may appear heavy reading. But it is quite comprehensive, especially the COPOLCO Report. It is so much of authentic information from an international expert group and hence very valuable. I think it may not be wrong to think of it as an essential reading for BPX in CSR.
Next step forward
In view of the progress in the field of CSR to the present level, the next step forward by corporate entities could well be adoption of the standard and a BPX could be the person to facilitate this process and make it an IT enabled system.
Refresh in the ISO Cafe!
Please also visit http://www.iso.org/iso/home.htm and there, do not miss The ISO Café!
For considerate reading!