Blogs & Comment

What Constitutes "Responsibility"?

In all the discussions about the many social and environmental factors that corporate responsibility encompasses, sometimes we overlook some of the most fundamental operational details that also convey a great deal about the degree to which a corporation is responsible.

A recent experience with the Canadian arm of one of the worlds largest computer manufacturers is a good illustration. I had scheduled a telephone discussion with their Director of Corporate PR. I called at the appointed time and got his voice mail. I left a message saying that I was calling as wed planned and never heard back from him. Curious to find out what had happened, a week or so later I called again and spoke with him directly. He apologized for having missed the first call and suggested another time the following week. When I called the second time I got his voice mail again, left a message and still havent heard back from him. As mentioned above, this was their Director of Corporate PR! The irony abounds.

This company proclaims a long-term and deep commitment to responsible and sustainable operations. While I have no doubt that many aspects of their business are “responsible”, after my experience I have a hard time taking their CSR program seriously.

As documented extraordinarily well in Jan Carlzons 1987 book Moments of Truth, the small things matter. Companies need to know that responsibility goes far beyond what is documented in an annual CSR report.