CSR – a topic with a number of different perspectives

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or Corporate Responsibility (CR) as it is called more and more frequently, is a topic with a very broad range of possible perspectives. It includes everything from charity sponsorship in the local community, via large scale philanthropic programs on a global scale, to core operational strategies for corporations to adopt to longterm changes in the world such as demographic changes, climate change etc. It includes both social sustainability as well as environmental sustainability initiatives.

One thing that became very obvious for me yesterday is that depending on the forum for the discussion, the ”local” or the ”global” perspective tend to dominate. In the morning I sat down with the CSR reference group to Swedish ICC (International Chamber of Commerce). And for quite obvious reasons, the global and international perspectives were dominating our discussions. Issues on the agenda included anti-corruption programs, human rights, democracy issues in countries such as South Africa and how corporations’ investments are affected by these issues. In order to learn more on those perspectives I recommend you to read ”John Ruggie’s principles on business and human rights”.

And later on yesterday I sat down with Marianne Bogle from CSR Sweden and discussed CSR issues in a more ”Swedish context”. In addition to discussions related to Enterprise 2020 Companies and similar initiatives, we also discussed very local CSR initiatives. What kind of initiatives are undertaken in the local community? What are the drivers for ”community investments”? Personally I believe that both local community initiatives as well as global programs are crucial for good CSR performance. And actually, very often the local initiatives are more embraced by your own colleagues since they can take an active part in those initiatives. It is of course often also easier to show direct positive impact on the local scale.

I think it is important not to forget any of these different perspectives when CSR initiatives are discussed. Very often the discussions tend to stick on the global issues such as human rights and anti-corruption, but as I said, the local programs are also crucial for success!

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