What is the best term for responsible business practice?

Several weeks back I started a poll on the question what you thought would be the best term for responsible business practice.

In total we had 117 votes with a result which was surprising to see in my opinion. The most popular term with a total of 25 votes was Corporate Responsibility (CR) (21%) followed by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (21 votes, 18%), then Corporate Sustainability (19 votes, 16%), Corporate Citizenship (18 votes, 15%) and Sustainability with 14 votes and 12%.

So what can we take away from this result?

One point is crystal clear in my opinion. Responsible business practice is still being associated with too many different terms.

I think there are two different interpretations of this result:

Good development: This is good as it shows that different people and cultures have different terms to express responsible business practice. And different terms do not mean different things for these people just that companies need to be more responsible.

Confusion: This is not a good development as the usage of so many different terms just confuses everyone. This result is a sign of this. In order to limit this confusion one or at most two terms should be the preferred terms to be associated with responsible business practice.

I personally only use the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability but this seems to vary most individuals and therefore believe that the second interpretation is more fitting.

Maybe this is a good thing as well? I am not so sure. What do you think about these results? How do interpret them?

What is the goal of responsible business practice?

Let’s start today’s post with a quote that has stuck in my head for many years now (yes, I am a big Star Trek fan):
“The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.” (Star Trek: First Contact )

Is this the end goal of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or responsible business practice? Is this what we are aiming for in our campaign to continuously promote a more responsible business practice?

I believe that it is. Here is why:
A society which does not rely on a monetary system has totally different priorities and roles for its citizens and society as a whole. That is also part of the reason why I love the Star Trek series so much. It thrives on aspiration and ethics for humankind. The society of the future has figured out a way to fulfill the needs of each individual while at the same giving its citizens purpose in life and building a prosperous society as a whole.

Yes I know that Start Trek is pure fiction but isn’t it also fiction to think that we can achieve a more responsible business practice in the future? In a way are we all living in a world of hopes and dreams in order to create change within our businesses, when influencing/advising our clients or simply trying to argue with our friends that companies need to do more to fulfill their responsibility in society and that we simply can not go on doing business the way we are at the moment.

What do you think about this? I am I just barking up the wrong tree here or what do you think is the end goal for CSR and responsible business practice?

The CSR Minister post disappears – On the devaluation of the UK leadership in responsible business practice

A CSR minister has been part of the UK government for 10 years now right after Tony Blair’s government created the first minister responsible to promote CSR and responsible business practices in the UK. Since then there have been 7 CSR ministers doing this job.

This was always something very interesting to talk about when you are at events or conferences and it was a clear sign of the willingsness of the UK government to show leadership in this area. It always made me proud to be living in the UK for some reason.

But now the new UK coalition government has so far not appointed a new CSR minister. And I believe they will not do so in the foreseeable future.

Yes, I admit the results/impacts of a CSR minister have been a mix of of successes and failures over the years. But this position nevertheless showed the rest of the world that the UK championed responsible business practice from a governmental level. And this is unfortunately still something which not many other countries are doing.

The big questions for then are: Are they correct in doing so? Do we not need a CSR minister anymore? Here is what I think:

The role of a CSR minister is important but for it to be more relevant then it is at the moment. its responsibilities and governmental influence would also need to change. The role would need to be empowered to be a clear and distinctive voice for a change towards responsible business practice in the UK.

The purpose of the function also needs to evolve in a way to include responsibilities for the range of CSR topics companies need to deal with when they are expressing their willingness to be more responsible corporate citizen.

The person being the CSR minister would ideally be someone that has an equal amount of business and political experience. This would be crucial for this job, to be able to both perspectives, the business and political perspective. This obviously is only wishful thinking from my side and it seems that this post of a CSR Minister will never be reinstated in any case. All current developments are pointing towards this negative development.

As a consequence, is the current UK government (and the previous government has started to do that) reallocating the responsibilities of the CSR minister to a range of other ministries (one step forward three steps back!).

And this is a real shame as this clearly devalues the decisions/work already taken by the previous CSR ministers and the purpose of a person responsible to promote responsible business practice.

I believe that there is a dire need for more responsible business practice leadership in the current UK government. You might argue that this is the role of organizations such as the BITC, but having the BITC is simply not enough (But this is a topic for a complete separate post in my opinion).

The bottom line is that we need someone more senior in the UK government that knows what CSR is, champions responsible business practice and has the links to the businesses. Otherwise will the promotion of responsible business practice not be seen as important enough by the UK business sector.

I wonder what the future of CSR in the UK will bring if we continue to make 1 step forward and 3 steps back for much longer?

Responsible Business Practice Terminology: The Normal Chaos or Total Confusion?

Last week I started a poll on the question what you thought would be the best term for responsible business practice.

In total we had 117 votes with a result which was surprising to see in my opinion.

The most popular term with a total of 25 votes was Corporate Responsibility (CR) (21%) followed by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (21 votes, 18%), then Corporate Sustainability (19 votes, 16%), Corporate Citizenship (18 votes, 15%) and Sustainability with 14 votes and 12%.

Here are the results in a pie chart format:

So what can we take away from this result?

One point is crystal clear in my opinion. Responsible business practice is still being associated with too many different terms.

I think there are two different interpretations of this result:

Good development: This is good as it shows that different people and cultures have different terms to express responsible business practice. And different terms do not mean different things for these people just that companies need to be more responsible.

Confusion: This is not a good development as the usage of so many different terms just confuses everyone. This result is a sign of this.
In order to limit this confusion one or at most two terms should be the preferred terms to be associated with responsible business practice.

I personally only use the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability but this seems to vary most individuals and therefore believe that the second interpretation is more fitting.

Maybe this is a good thing as well? I am not so sure.

What do you think about these results? How do interpret them?