About Corporate Social Responsibility

Let’s start with considering what an irresponsible (socially) company looks like. Clearly one which destroys the environment, exploits workers and customers and generally behaves in a cavalier and arrogant manner. Sounds like an awfull lot of the large (and not so large) service providers who, despite having spent trillions on CRM (customer relationship) software still treat the customer as an idiot.

My per hate are the mobile telephony operators who use call centers to phone at the most unfortunate moment and try to sell a service which a half way to competent employee would KNOW I do not need. Or gas and electricity suppliers who try to get me to sign a three year contract offering cheaper (supposedly) tariffs for the first year and then maximum rates allowed by the regulator then after.

You can tell these organisations a mile off as they ALL espouse CSR as if spending a fraction of profits on socially desirable projects will make consumers ignore their rapacious desire to extract the last cent from the gullible.

So where does a truly responsible company stand? Well in Poland at least the institutions promoting CSR have a very socialist belief that the company should not derive any benefit from its CSR activity. So whatever you do will be questioned as to motive. Does motive really matter if something is done for the community?

The 19th Century development of CSR actually occured in Britain. Responsible employers learned soon enough that with development of more complex products you actually need an educated and healthy work force. Hence the support by business for municipal schools, hospitals, street lighting, sewerage etc.

And so it is today on a local level. But please don’t question motivation. What is important though is that government recognises, via tax legislation, that CSR is a legimate business expense so long as the benefit to society is higher than the cost in lost tax revenue.