10 February 2010

CSR – a little bit of good, a little bit of bad for the society

To CSR or not to, that would be the question for our PR debate. I was always interested in corporate social responsibility because I saw it as a chance to do something good for the community by a company. Perhaps most of us see corporations as evil and up to no good, carrying only about their profits and thinking how to manipulate us to get some of our earnings. But there are good deeds that big companies did and still do.
Avon, for example, which is in partnership with such organisations as National Cancer Institute, has established Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade which helps to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Also Avon Foundation for Women, which is helping to fight domestic violence with Reese Witherspoon as its ambassador is donating big money to tackle the problem. This sounds as very good deeds company is doing.
Another example here is Whirlpool Corporation and its Philippines branch which joined non-profit organization Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) in sponsoring surgeries for Pilipino children with cleft lips and cleft palate. And there is more to the company. Since 1999 Whirlpool partners with Habitat for Humanity by helping fight poverty in USA. Corporation helps build homes for those who are in need of one but can’t afford it (for example single mothers with children). Their message is “Every Home… Everywhere, with Pride, Passion, and Performance”. If you want to read more about Whirlpool CSR have a look at its Sustainability Report.
There are many examples of companies and corporations which do good for local communities or wider society. This not only works well for their reputation but also brings profits to them. Many experts claim that good reputation is very important for the success of a corporation; they consider reputation “a company’s asset” because it is connected to corporate brand equity and it adds to the value of that company (write Schwartz and Gibb in ‘When Good Companied Do Bad Things: Responsibility and Risk in an Age of Globalization’).
There is yet another side to CSR. In my PR class some of my fellow students believe that corporate social responsibility is merely a window dressing for corporations that want to avoid paying tax or just hide their harmful to the environment activities. One of my colleagues brought to our attention example of Shell Corporation. To gain public trust and gain their positive attitude towards the company, Shell made promises to build schools in Africa as a part of its CSR program. But children are still waiting for those. Are they just dressing the window with its CSR plans?
Mallen Baker in his blog wrote: “If the arguments for a socially responsible approach were widely accepted, nobody would be even using the label "CSR" because everyone would be doing it”. And I agree with him. I think many corporations wouldn’t be doing CRS if they behaved ethically and morally in the first place. I don’t believe that Nike, for example, would be trying any of its CSR programs if it didn’t use child labour to make its shoes.
What do you think?


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