The Myth of Corporate Social Responsibility

Yarikadeh presents a translation in Persian of the article “The myth of Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) written in English by Deborah Doane in 2005.

She reviewed the following myths about CSR:

Myth #1: The market can deliver both short-term financial returns and long-term social benefits.
Myth #2: The ethical consumer will drive change.
Myth #3: There will be a competitive “race to the top” over ethics amongst businesses.
Myth #4: In the global economy, countries will compete to have the best ethical practices.

Here is the beginning of the original article in English:

THE CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)MOVEMENT has grown in recent years from a fringe activity by a few earnest companies, like the Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry’s, to a highly visible priority for traditional corporate leaders from Nike to McDonald’s. Reports of good corporate behavior are now commonplace in the media, from GlaxoSmithKline’s donation of antiretroviral medications to Africa, to Hewlett-Packard’s corporate volunteering programs, to Starbucks’ high-volume purchases of Fair Trade coffee. In fact, CSR has gained such prominence that the Economist devoted a special issue to denouncing it earlier this year.

Although some see CSR as simply philanthropy by a different name, it can be defined broadly as the efforts corporations make above and beyond regulation to balance the needs of stakeholders with the need to make a profit. Though traces of modern- day CSR can be found in the social auditing movement of the 1970s, it has only recently acquired enough momentum to merit an Economist riposte. While U.S. and European drivers for CSR have differed slightly, key events, such as the sinking of Shell’s Brent Spar oil rig in the North Sea in 1996, and accusations of Nike and others’ use of “sweatshop labor,” triggered the first major response by big business to the uprisings against the corporate institution.

Naomi Klein’s famous tome, “No Logo,”1 gave voice to a generation that felt that big business had taken over the world, to the detriment of people and the environment, even as that generation was successfully mobilizing attacks on corporate power following the Seattle antiglobalization riots in 1999.

Rather than shrink away from the battle, corporations emerged brandishing CSR as the friendly face of capitalism, helped, in part, by the very movement that highlighted the problem of corporate power in the first place. NGOs, seeing little political will by governments to regulate corporate behavior, as free-market economics has become the dominant political mantra, realized that perhaps more momentum could be achieved by partnering with the enemy. By using market mechanisms via consumer power, they saw an opportunity to bring about more immediate change.

Read more | View the Persian version on Yarikadeh

Photo credit: © Yarikadeh

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