Are Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs a public relations placebo, designed to give the impression that businesses are determined to create a healthy and sustainable world, while in reality they operate with little real change? Are CSR programs, sustainability indexes and responsibility tables lulling us into a false sense of security?
Deborah Doane from CORE Coalition has outlined her concerns. Having read on this topic for some time, it’s great to see a single article bringing together some of the obvious flaws in the CSR model.
“There is room for markets to bring about some change through CSR, but the market alone is unlikely to bring with it the progressive outcomes its proponents would hope for.”
I could probably add a few more myths to the list, but here are Deborah’s four:
Myth #1: The market can deliver both short-term financial returns and long-term social benefits.
Myth #2: The ethical consumer will drive change.
Myth #3: There will be a competitive “race to the top” over ethics amongst businesses.
Myth #4: In the global economy, countries will compete to have the best ethical practices.
Alternatives to CSR
Doane’s CSR alternatives include shifting the corporation’s ‘duty of care’ include all stakeholders, better product labeling and tougher regulations, as regulation “brings with it predictability, and, in many cases, innovation”.