Blogs & Comment

Corporate Responsibility: Words and Actions

First, many thanks to readers for all the remarkable feedback to my post about the need to re-think employee engagement. It’s an area that’s so important to corporate responsibility yet clearly isn’t performing well enough. To summarize the comments from readers: A culture that’s conducive + passion among employees + visible and authentic support from executives + operational support including tools and training = more employee engagement. Someone should come up with an employee engagement “quotient”.
This makes me think about how the lexicon of corporate responsibility. When I started Impaktin 2001, the term “community investment” was quite new and not widely used. Corporate Citizenship, Community Relations, Community Affairs were much more common expressions for the non-financial aspects of business. I decided to position and differentiate our company as being “For Better Community Investment” because it implied that all actions in this area should have an impact (or, dare I say, Impakt?), indicated that businesses were invested in/committed to better communities, and also conveyed the need for social outcomes from non-profits. Since then, this term has really taken hold and most large corporations have established community investment as a priority at a management level.
I’m not sure that “Corporate Social Responsibility” or “Corporate Responsibility” are good enough descriptions of what corporations do in this area. They don’t give me strong enough sense of outcomes and imply that initiatives in this area are required or regulated rather than authentic. (As an aside, there is a cultural relativism to”responsibility” – what’s seen as responsible in one context may be very different elsewhere).
How about: corporate social action, corporate social impact (unfortunate CSI acronym!), or corporate social purpose?
Unfortunately, this stuff doesn’t seem to come naturally to most businesses. We need expressions that motivate us to above and beyond compliance and inspire us to go for the stretch goal instead of just the easy win.
Have a great weekend!