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The two most important things in any company do not appear in its balance sheet: its reputation and its people.Henry Ford

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Corporate social responsibility: decipher expectations

Corporate social responsibility: decipher expectations

Corporate social and environmental responsibility has become a real challenge. Yet, to guide efforts in this domain, it is essential to understand what expectations it is raising.

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Everyone is talking about corporate social responsibility. So, is this just another passing fad or a game-changing transformation? Most leaders today say their economic model and operating practices are under very real pressure with regard to CSR.

However, few understand what CSR entails precisely. Expectations are vague, and even contradictory at times, making it difficult for companies to know where to begin. Organizations that rush to communicate on the issue may easily be accused of “greenwashing,” that is, exploiting social responsibility for their own selfish ends. On the other hand, businesses that make significant efforts in a given domain may be admonished for failing to carry out other duties – of which they may not even be aware! – considered to be incumbent upon the responsible corporate citizen. Corporate leaders thus have the unpleasant feeling that they are mere pawns in a game whose rules they do not fully understand.

Clarifying the new expectations is consequently the first step to coming to grips with this game. There appear to be four main imperatives:

–Assume broader responsibilities: companies are expected to care about the operation of their entire economic ecosystem.

– Pay attention to the long-term social and environmental impact of the business.

– Communicate transparently on company practices by engaging in discussions with the various stakeholders.

– Demonstrate the sincerity of the company’s commitment with consistent statements and projects.

Synopsis n.165a


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