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Corporate Responsibility: Responding To Fake CSR
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Corporate Responsibility: Responding To Fake CSR - Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: Responding To Fake CSR

Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: Responding To Fake CSR

It’s a sad truth that in just about any endeavor, no matter the good intentions of the general population, there are some people who will get away with as much as they can. A cynic would say this is true about all of us, at least on some level. An optimist would insist it’s the one-bad-egg situation. Others might suggest that if you’re not playing to win, you probably shouldn’t be in the game.

This is why the entire corporate social responsibility concept is so difficult for some people to grasp, and why it’s such a refreshing way to think about the way we exchange money for goods and services. CSR redefines what it means to win the game, allowing a different framework for how we consider ourselves and our businesses successful.

This is also why it feels like such a betrayal when a company’s CSR efforts fail as a result of their never being real to begin with. One major auto manufacturer lied about its product’s emissions in an audacious deception involving the company’s highest levels of management. Meanwhile, it touted its product as eco-friendly.

Fake or deceptive CSR is a big deal, because employees are more loyal to companies they view as more responsible, and consumers are more likely to support responsible companies even if it costs more to do so. A 2016 article on Forbes.com cited research indicating that a company’s CSR could be seen by its employees as “substantial” or merely “symbolic,” and that “a company jumping on the corporate social responsibility bandwagon just for show or greenwashing doesn't fool its employees."

As we have said repeatedly in this space, although CSR often has a philanthropic component, it is not charity, except of course in the cases where a company is literally a charity. Nobody expects companies to give everything away; in fact, in the case of true corporations, leadership has a responsibility to make decisions in the interest of its stockholders. What people want is to believe the companies they work for and do business with are sincere in their efforts to go beyond the bottom line, to a place where the company continues to be profitable, but in a beneficial way for the planet and its occupants.

The errant automobile manufacturer didn’t merely fake sincerity in caring about the planet. It developed and installed technology specifically designed to give false emissions readings. Customers bought (and dealers sold) the product based on deliberate falsehoods, making them unwilling contributors to the manufacturer’s willful disregard for environmental health. In a universe where the CSR news has mostly been encouraging, it’s difficult not to lean a bit cynical, but here’s hoping our businesses and our consciences are strong enough to keep striving for the sincerity and substance we all desire.

Reference link:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/danpontefract/2016/09/24/faking-corporate-social-responsibility-does-not-fool-employees/#44a2cebe7994

 

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