Is corporate social responsibility really genuine for most organisations?

May 7, 2010


Sadly I think not. For most corporate social responsibility (CSR) is just a fancy term for what they were already doing in the first place.

Ultimately for most companies their main aim is to make money, and contributing to the society is way down their list of objectives. There are plenty of organisations who would have us believe they really ‘care’ but ultimately businesses aren’t capable of it.

The exceptions are a handful of companies that have CEOs who really believe that it will benefit their organisation to make a genuine contribution. If the CEO and other leaders are not on board then forget it. Managers lower down the food chain can have the best intentions but their efforts will ultimately be thwarted if the CEO is not a true believer.

We worked with a CEO who was a trailblazer in this area and I genuinely believe it benefited his organisation. His name is Grant Harrod and at the time he was the CEO of business products supplier Corporate Express. He’s since moved on from Corporate Express and I’m sure the new CEO feels as strongly as his predecessor and Grant’s legacy lives on. I’m sure that Grant Harrod has taken this philosophy and instilled it in his new role as CEO of Salmat.

In contrast I previously worked for another large high profile public company and at the time they did nothing to focus on CSR. The CEO was not interested in the subject and therefore the organisation payed less than lip-service to it. I think that’s shifted now with a change of CEO who has more of an interest in CSR. As a shareholder I have no problem with the company spending time and money making sure they have their corporate social responsibility in order.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has had a good or bad experience of CSR in Australia or around the world? Am I being cynical or not?