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Corporate Social Responsibility is now an industry on itself. Like all industries where consultants owe their living to, the importance of CSR is talked up to death.
Yet CSR is often not what it is cracked up to be. Companies that invest much money in their CSR programs often still get attacked, criticized and sanctioned, sometimes by their people themselves they are supposed to be helping.
Unspun’s always thought that there’s something missing about the concept of CSR. It begins with the word “responsibility.” Responsibility is about doing something that you’re obliged to do. Whether you’re passionate about it, agree or disagree with it or committed or not to it is immaterial. How much sense does it take.
Then there is Creating Shared Value, a concept advanced by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer that starts from the viewpoint that a company can’t really proper unless the society surrounding it prospers as well. Put simply it believes that a rising tide rises all ships, so its in business’ interest to create that rising tide.
Seems to me to make more sense than CSR. Here’s a bit of the debate going on in The Jakarta Post today:
Still, some say corporations need to think of their social responsibility as more than just an afterthought. Nur Shilla Christianto, vice president of communication consultancy Maverick, questions the way many corporates in Indonesia run their CSR programs. “Some do it with the best of intentions, but mostly the CSR attempts sound contrived. This is partly because of the philosophical disconnect between CSR, which is essentially philanthropy, and the imperative of a business to make money,” she said.“What makes more sense than the concept of CSR is the concept of Creating Shared Values [CSV],” Shilla adds. “Unlike CSR, CSV starts off with the premise that a business should recognize that societal needs, not just conventional economic needs, define markets. It also recognizes that social harms or weaknesses often make a company less efficient and profitable.”