Has CSR reached its sell-by date?

This was the challenging question asked at Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week.

We attended and the answer was broadly yes in its current form, but both audience and panel agreed that business is nevertheless best placed to make the changes needed to support our growing societies into the future.

egg sell-by date

The main criticism aimed is that CSR has failed to become fully integrated into the day to day work of companies. Promoting a little bit of good doesn’t undo the negative impacts of many businesses.

Social innovation agency Uscreates through their Business Social Impact Initiative evidence the move within CSR from outsourced through internally managed to integrated Social Impact initiatives. You can help Uscreates to improve this research by completing this survey.

Volans have labelled this move away from Change as usual breakthrough capitalism.

So what is holding back this breakthrough?

Many current initiatives leave important people (customers, clients, communities, staff, investors) out of the design, creation and delivery processes. This greatly reduces the likelihood of lasting change.

We’re launching a series of breakfast briefings to showcase how open innovation can be use to build social and environmental benefit into the heart of products and services.

Our first briefing is next Tuesday (08.30-09.30 at Westminster Hub) with textile company Interface presenting their ground breaking Net-Works project working with fishing communities to harvest waste nets which are then used as a raw material in Interface’s products.

Niall Smith

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