CSR as a political instrument

I held, and hold, a firm belief that any action taken by a corporation and designated as “responsible” in a social sense should provide value to at least two groups – the corporation and the society on which that corporation has an impact.

For the corporation, this generally means benefit to profit / margin / brand awareness (that leads to benefit to profit / margin) and this is where I was, am, disappointed by the narrow definition given to CSR and the generally accepted view of CSR as philanthropy.

     altruistic (n) : unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others (ant: egoist) … very rarely a term synonymous with business. 

The Indian Government has sought to introduce the idea of corporate responsibility in a more bullish way than most – 2% of profit made by companies of a certain size must be spent on “CSR” with legislation also requiring specific corporate governance structures. (www.dwaynebaraka.com)

If it looks like corporate philanthropy, and walks like corporate philanthropy, and smells like corporate philanthropy … it is not CSR.

But do I want to be involved in this kind of work – does the Government sector interest me? Short answer – no. Public service is one thing that I have been involved in. It is a follower, not a leader; it waits on social norms, it does not create them. Which is possibly how it should be – it is after all a service provided by the public, for the public – but that realisation is dispiriting enough to assure my lack of interest…

Follow-up … no.


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