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

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Strategic CSR - Stakeholders

This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester.
Happy Holidays and I will see you in the New Year!
The article in the url below presents a startling statistic:
"Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report."
The advantage of the report is that, rather than calculate emissions at a national level, it traces emissions to individual firms, with a focus (perhaps unsurprisingly) on fossil-fuel producers:
"The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report."
Although this makes for a dramatic headline, it is important to remember that blame is shared between those of us who consume fossil fuel (and, therefore, actually generate emissions) as well as with those firms that sell the fuel to us. A significant problem with much of the CSR debate, in my opinion, is that it seeks to frame companies as the 'bad guys.' While being inaccurate from a practical perspective (firms do not act; it is their stakeholders, principally executives and employees, who act), it also shifts the blame away from actors who can potentially solve the problem (i.e., all of us, collectively) to an amorphous actor that is easy to demonize (i.e., large corporations). Of course, one consequence of this is it helps us feel better about ourselves. In reality, however, blaming companies does not move us any closer to solving the problem. It is only when we accept that it is the firm's stakeholders who are to blame (whether internal or external) that there is a chance of meaningful change. Companies are a social construction that we have created to help us solve resource allocation problems. As such, they will deliver what the collective set of stakeholders ask/want them to deliver. By blaming companies rather than stakeholders, therefore, we are easing our consciences, but making a solution more difficult to identify and achieve.
Take care
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Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says
By Tess Riley
July 10, 2017
The Guardian