Thursday, December 17, 2009
CSR is not about doing good. It is about survival. This is my first post under the CSR heading as Energy & Emissions writer for Justmeans, and since that is one of my fundamental beliefs about CSR, I wanted to get that opinion out in the open right away.
I am an engineer working on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. I own my own company, Integrated Renewable Energy, here in Seattle, WA, US. After 30 years as a Systems Engineer for NASA, Boeing, and a handful of entrepreneurial space firms, I determined that I needed to do something more relevant to my children's futures and made the transition to energy.
I have definite ideas about the role of corporations in our society, and how they need to change the way they act. In a nutshell, corporations need to reflect the fact that they are made of people, and the human soul must be respected inwardly and outwardly. The days of the "soulless" corporation are over. Soulless corporations are going to die. The only question is will they take the rest of us with them when they do. And the answer to that question lies in how well we do in changing the way they act now. So I think it's time for Extreme CSR. We had better change the direction we're headed or we might end up where we're going.
I have three tenets for this blog. The first I stated above - CSR is not about doing good. It is about survival. It is about how we can evolve corporate culture (individual and collective) to survive in a world where economic and social injustices are more visible and less tolerated, and on a planet where we are reaching real physical limits.
Second, corporations are more responsible than citizens to change the way our economies are structured. Corporations use the vast majority of our energy, water, and other materials. Yet when things go bad, it is not the corporations who put their children to bed hungry. They don't see their land and water blighted. They don't shiver in the dark. But citizens risk these things every day. They are already paying a price. So corporations need to take the lion's share of responsibility for change, either voluntarily or by law.
Finally, the point of using CSR as a marketing tool is not to score points with consumers, but to change the world. Laggard corporations need to see that an ethical, socially responsible path is also a productive and sustainable one, and that conventional management is leading us all to a dark alley, a dead end.
So that's who I am, and that's where I am coming from. I welcome all thoughts and comments along the way. I hope we will have some enlightening discussions. But more than that, I hope we spark some actions.
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Posted by Paul Birkeland at 11:00 PM