Fixing the world – or fixing ourselves?

In the broadest terms, the CSR community seems to polarise into two camps: those who see it as a means to combat abuse o...

June 28, 2003

In the broadest terms, the CSR community seems to polarise into two camps: those who see it as a means to combat abuse of power (anti-immorality); and those who see it as a means to inject a higher purpose into corporate life (anti-amorality). Much confusion arises from unconscious schizophrenics who combine elements of both camps in their reasoning (which is very desirable), but don’t always recognise the distinction.

1. Anti-Immorality CSR: Encouraging a co-ordinated response in order to enforce a more or less collective perception of what constitutes good corporate conduct – which is legal, decent, honest and truthful.

2. Anti-Ammorality CSR: Proactively defining and shaping a shared ethical aspiration, perhaps by establishing and maintaining a corporate meaning which will secure future participation in the business environment.

The contrast is clear:

Anti-Immorality vs Anti-Amorality

Systems enforcers vs Systems changers

Focus on conduct vs Focus on motivation

Focus on process vs Focus on competency

Focus on duty vs Focus on responsibility

Focus on present vs Focus on future

Focus on outcome vs Focus on intention

Focus on penalties vs Focus on incentives

It seems pretty desirable (to me at least), that CSR should be a fusion of both perspectives. In fact, maybe CSR’s role in business is to evolve the closest possible match between the purpose and process of an enterprise and the needs and aspirations of its stakeholders (past, present and future!) . Simple as that.

Maybe this fusion of anti immorality and anti amorality will secure real sustainability. Who knows?

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