If not now, then when: The Argument for starting your company on the path of CSR

by Aman Singh Das | September 02, 2009

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It is an oft-repeated argument that in these days with resources scarceand budgets shot, CSR is an easy target of cost cutting. However,sustainability experts say it can never be too early to begin. Why?Because the earth is depleting at an accelerated pace and while we mightnot see the effects in our lifetime, our kids and grandkids mostcertainly one.

At a special round table discussion conducted by the Center forSustainability and Excellence, a leading European CSR think thank, inChicago today, Corporate Communication specialists, academia, engineers,sustainability directors and attorneys discussed why today is betterthan tomorrow to begin leading their organization on the path to beingsocially and environmentally responsible. And its not just to gain anindex on the Dow Sustainability Index.

While Boeing executives argued the business model for CSR, an attorneywho advises architects and LEED certified buildings emphasized that likethe need for technology and computers was hotly debated 20 years ago, sowere we arguing about the need for CSR. Soon it will be the way of life.

A representative from a Chicago-based manufacturing company expressedher employer's leading work in the area saying they say sustainabilityas a "license to operate." A former WW Grainger employee voiced hisextreme pessimism about the current downturn concluding that the sideaffects will be traumatic enough to decisively change business practicesand force businesses to think globally and consciously. He stressed theneed to start thinking of a forward back approach than the traditionalpresent-future one.

Also voiced were concerns of viability and the infamous argument of atriple bottom line.

Conclusion? The time is better in a downturn to begin establishing thegroundwork for a CSR policy and strategy than boom time because CSR asan ROI is long term and takes time to establish. "What we decide and laydown now will show positive ROI in a couple of years when economicconditions will be better and recruitment and retention will againbecome important indicators of employer growth and health," said a humanresources officer.

Do you work for a company who is starting to work toward an annual CSRreport? Do you see your employer as a proactive leader towardsustainability? Share your employer's progress by taking our Annual Green Survey.

Stay tuned for more from Day 2 of the CSR Practitioner Workshop!

Filed Under: CSR

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