The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at david.chandler@ucdenver.edu


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Strategic CSR - Nike

 
This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester.
Have a great holiday break and I will see you in the New Year!
 
 
 
This song was sent to me by a subscriber to the Newsletter. It is a song by the rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis—WINGS:
 
 
Essentially, the song is about our material world and the effects consumerism can have on our values and priorities. In particular, Macklemore focuses on Nike shoes and how wearing them (and collecting them) has elevated them to a symbol – they are no longer just a pair of shoes but something to fight for and, in the worst cases, to die for.
 
Macklemore and Lewis use their art form to tackle some serious social problems. I particularly like their song about marriage equality—SAME LOVE:
 
 
The fact that they feel the need to write these songs, of course, is a reflection of the values embedded in our societies and the economic systems that dominate them.
 
Happy Holidays!
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Strategic CSR - Diageo

The article in the url below follows-up on Diageo's progress towards a series of eight sustainability goals that the firm set itself back in 2008 (see: http://www.diageo.com/en-row/csr/environment/Pages/default.aspx):
 
"To drive improvement, in 2008 we set ourselves a series of challenging targets to achieve by 2015 in the areas of water, carbon emissions, and waste. In 2009, we added commitments covering our packaging."
 
The company's intention was to achieve each of these targets by 2015. However:
 
"The company's latest annual report, published [in August], reveals that it fell short on seven of its eight main environmental goals. It cut waste water pollution by a mere 3.1% (on a 2007 baseline), for example. Its stated goal was 60%. In other areas, it made progress but not enough. So its carbon emissions and waste water levels were down by 33.3% and 45.3%, respectively, rather than the promised 50%."
 
Given this, should Diageo be criticized for failing to meet goals it voluntarily set itself, or should we welcome the firm's honesty in (presumably) accurately measuring these metrics and reporting its shortfall? Unfortunately, The Guardian kind of misses the point and wades in with widespread criticism:
 
"With results such as Diageo's, it's no wonder consumers and the public are mistrustful of corporate commitments. There have been so many false dawns in the sustainability space, says Marilyn Croser, director of the CORE Coalition, a civil society network pushing to improve corporate accountability. 'The pace of change is slow and the problem is very urgent', she adds. Where the drinks multinational is concerned, environmentalists have understandably called foul, with Friends of the Earth Scotland accusing the company of failing 'miserably'."
 
I am inclined to praise Diageo, rather than criticize. We do not need firms generating meaningless metrics and then proudly reporting their achievements. What we need is firms stretching themselves to the point where they essentially have to reinvent their operations to vastly reduce their impact. The fact that Diageo took this task seriously much sooner than most other firms (the targets were set in 2008), accurately measured their progress, and then honestly reported the results indicates to me that they are probably making greater strides than most other companies:
 
"David Croft, global sustainability director at Diageo, insists that the company's targets are science-based and challenging. 'We could all set targets that are readily achieved but what we've tried to do is look at the science and the wider context, such as where climate change is heading,' he says."
 
Yes, we need better performance; and yes, we need it quickly. But we are only going to get where we need to go if we encourage firms when they are honest enough to admit they have fallen short of their own ambitious goals. Since it is almost impossible for most of us to have any idea how hard the company worked towards the targets, or whether it could have done much better, what would the critics have preferred—that the company lied about its progress? Yes, we should be mistrustful of firms when they lie. But, if we are also going to pan them when they tell the truth, we shouldn't be surprised when they are less forthcoming subsequently.
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Sobering results for drinks giant Diageo reveal problems of sustainability targets
By Oliver Balch
September 3, 2015
The Guardian
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Strategic CSR - Shared value

One of the main obstacles to generating change in corporations' understanding of CSR is the media's narrow reporting on the issue. Time and time again, I see plenty of evidence that business reporters in respected media outlets have only a rudimentary understanding of the complexity of a subject like CSR, not to mention some of the more basic tenets of capitalism (such as what profit represents and the legal relationship businesses have with their shareholders). The article in the url below is a good example of the danger of possessing insufficient knowledge:
 
"There is something appealing about the concept of 'shared value.' The strategy, first articulated by Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School and the management consultant Mark R. Kramer, is based on the belief that companies can increase profits and enhance their businesses even as they address pressing social problems."
 
To suggest that Porter and Kramer "first articulated … the belief that companies can increase profits and enhance their businesses even as they address pressing social problems" demonstrates an ignorance of the debate that is astounding. I have detailed my criticism of Porter and Kramer's article elsewhere (see Strategic CSR – Porter & Kramer). Suffice it to say, I am not a fan. While they may have come up with the term "shared value" (primarily to serve their own consulting purposes), there is nothing in the article that is new to anyone who has spent any time thinking about CSR.
 
What I find particularly annoying about the fawning attitude a journalist like Eduardo Porter has towards Michael Porter, however, is that it impedes the prospect of meaningful change. In the case of the article below, the author concludes that companies that "have no time for 'shared value' … [instead are] making an entirely different case: Addressing social problems will have to take a back seat to the bottom line." He makes this assertion as if "addressing social problems" and "the bottom line" are completely unrelated. The result of this flawed logic, which is directly influenced by Porter and Kramer's work, is to suggest that CSR "has its limits" instead of the more important conclusion the author could have arrived at (that CSR is all-encompassing and central to every business) if he had a more sophisticated understanding of the subject about which he was writing.
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: http://www.sagepub.com/chandler3e/
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: http://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/
 
 
Corporate Action on Social Problems Has Its Limits
By Eduardo Porter
September 9, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
B1