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Friday, February 24, 2012

Strategic CSR - Seven Social Sins

In my readings over the holiday, I came across Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins—seven things that he believed would destroy us as a civilized society:

·         Wealth Without Work
·         Pleasure Without Conscience
·         Knowledge Without Character
·         Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
·         Science Without Humanity
·         Religion Without Sacrifice
·         Politics Without Principle

Some of these strike me as more pertinent today than others, but it is hard not to conclude that we are failing Gandhi’s test on multiple levels.

Many of these sins, of course, are directly relevant to the CSR debate. What I find most striking about the list is Gandhi’s emphasis on process, rather than outcome. Today, in contrast, we worry more about where we are, rather than how we got there. Just thinking through the implications of the first sin (wealth without work), for example, speaks volumes about the extent to which our values have shifted over time.

For additional insight and commentary on each of the social sins, see this extract from Steven Covey’s book ‘Principle Centered Leadership’: