A Creative Metaphor for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

A Creative Metaphor for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is gaining an ever-increasing attention by businesses. A great reference on CSR and its role on impacting businesses is thoroughly covered by IBM e-book on subject matter.

The great challenge is to turn the attitude to CSR as being a cost into a stream of revenues. This shall require positive and creative thinking to achieve. However; it pays dividends to do so.

One way to arrive at creative solutions is re-consider the PEST diagram (Political, Economic, Social, Technological) interactions.

1d29f438.png

The great challenge is to turn the attitude to CSR as being a cost into a stream of revenues. This shall require positive and creative thinking to achieve. However; it pays dividends to do so.

One way to arrive at creative solutions is re-consider the PEST diagram (Political, Economic, Social, Technological) interactions.

22da1a19.png

We tend to study these four blocs in isolation; in reality they feedback to each other. For example, the advancement of telecom technologies has affected the widespread of mobile phones. This in turn has allowed individuals to connect and raise their voices on a political issue causing politicians to yield to social pressure. If not, social disruption occurs and the Arab Spring is a recent case to explain this trend.

The question now pertains to how to use overlapping of the four PEST blocs to serve CSR strategies. How can an organization benefit from such interactions to gain the satisfaction of its customers, the approval of authorities and social pressure groups such as environmentalists with the simultaneity of generating constant streams of revenues? At first sight this task seems a false promise; in reality it could turn into a huge lasting asset for a business.

I find the metaphor of seeds growing in arid lands quite useful. The seeds of few plants have adapted to germinating in desert areas. These seeds are the seeds that we are looking for the seeds of ideas that we wish them to germinate in the arid lands of CSR. As plants have developed different strategies to cope with the severe requirements of arid zones, so are ideas. The seeds of ideas that grow in difficult soils. This is a great way of differentiation and the paradox is it is in these difficult conditions that we may find the pearly ideas. Best explanation is offered by life examples.

One example that struck me is how the seeds of a rare plant growing in South Africa could be the future shrub for the wide deserts in Australia. An Australian researcher, John Howieson, of Murdoch University pioneered the idea of scouting for a plant that grows anywhere in the world that could germinate in the deserts of Australia. If successful, the grass would become the pastor for sheep and the sheep in turn would be a viable source for wool. The researcher identified the seeds of a plant in South Africa known as Lebeckia (background image). He did research to improve the germination of these seeds in the Australian desert. The development has taken years of trials to ensure the plant is suited to Australia, will not spread like a weed, is palatable and not toxic to sheep and not vulnerable to existing local pests or diseases. Now, there is agreement that farmers shall be rewarded financially for the seeds grown in Australia by ensuring royalties from the sale of domesticated lebeckia seeds partly flow back to South Africa.


The seeds of idea have germinated after few years of trial. CSR ideas might require time to germinate, but once they do the rewards can be fantastic. Foreign-aid-funded Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research funded this research. Imagine if it were a commercial bank that did. Its reputation capital would have exploded globally. The project is scalable, the beneficiary are many (Farmers in South Africa and Australia), the wool industry, the land arid land in Australia by being a source of seeds for the grass, the environment and all parties involved.

It is the connection of ideas that has become possible that allowed for germinating seeds of ideas into political, economic, social and more technological advancements. CSR could be a great way to differentiate socially-responsible corporations and making them stand out in the crowd.


I dedicate this buzz for both Louise Smith and Gert Scholtz. If you read the buzz then you shall find why I dedicate this buzz to both of you

thumb_up Relevant message Comment
Comments
Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#31
Your comment deserves wide attention Joanne Gardocki. It is sad only accidentally that I found your comment here. Would you consider writing a buzz on your thoughts here. I strongly believe it shall be very useful.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#30
And your observation and awareness are what we need to see the four circles as one dear Savvy Raj. I am sorry for the late response because only now I noticed accidentally your comment.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#29
Only now and accidentally I noticed your comment dear Isabella M H Wesoly and the subsequent comments. I have just checked your link and I plan to spend more time this evening. Meanwhile, please do share your videos here.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#27
CSR should address these needs dear Tausif Mundrawala. You remind me that it is better to teach a poor man how to fish rather give him a fish. This will be a win-win situation. For example, if a bank teaches the unskilled worker how to understand dip irrigation and even after then donate money for them the income of these people shall improve. They shall use the generous bank services out of gratitude and paying them back.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#25
Thank you dear Tausif Mundrawala and I agree mostly with your great comment. The example of the dates is a great one. As for your explanation that needs vary among people mover few kilometers is a valid one. However; people share their basic needs as per Maslow's Pyramid. Food is a basic need. Grass to feed the sheep is another one. CSR will do best if their responsibilities deal with human basic needs such as improving the quality of drinking water. On this I agree completely.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#23
I concur fully. Transformational reeders are like rare metals and what we need is handful of leaders to follow them. Great leaders become greater when they have true followers. I don't question your comment and as it defines who is a great leader. Our expectations to have many of them shall be soon dimmed. My hope by publishing this buzz is that not all less than ideal leaders would follow steps. Bill King wrote recently a great buzz on great leaders have great followers. I watched the 7- minutes video and it is great. How many people watched it since it was uploaded on December 10, 2014? Sadly, the video has less than 4,000 views. It is a great coincidence for me that it was launched on the day of my birthday. Thank you for this recurring gift every year dear friend CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

3 years ago #19

#22
The important thing to recognize about CSR is that it is there in organizations because it is a sidebar to their values and not about living their values. A company that lived those values is Patagonia founded by Yvon Chouinard. Another founder Douglas Tompkins who founded North Face actually moved to Chile's Patagonia region where he brought a huge area of land for purposes of conservation. Sadly Tompkins died in a kayak accident. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQvMt0SPTaE CSR is not often directed by the CEO of corporations, but delegated to a mid-level manager - so there is nothing such as geniune CSR, because that would require a CEO like Chouinard and Tompkins at the helm. Those CEO's that see the big picture you paint are few and far between - and there is advantages when that level of thinking informs an organization, but that is not what gets churned out of Business Schools - what gets churned out is this idea that CSR is something that an organization needs but not as lived values, only as an expectation, which is why CSR devolves into a PR exercise or at least one that is not central to the involvement of the most senior leader. For sure we need more Yvon Chouinards and Doug Tompkins - watch the video to see what makes these kind of leaders who they are, but the expectation that leaders in thousands of corporate cultures even have this level of thinking as a leadership competency is wafer thin but it is interesting to see how this tranforms as a 21st Century leadership expectation. What you say is a capability only the most brightest of leaders have and that does not come via the factory system that are business schools. it comes from a transformation of how leadership capability manifests itself and to date that is a poor picture.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#21
Organizations with ethics and awareness of their responsibility of their social and environmental responsibilities will look for grand goals. For example, if a company switches from copper wires to fiber optics because part of its drive is to reduce environmental pollution while striving for better servicing its customers with more efficient and almost maintenance-free technology is bound to make profits. It is not making profit or solely improving the environment; it is both. A business without ethics might sell inferior, or harmful products knowingly just for the sake of making profits. A company that sells a product at very high price because it is the sole producer is a company without ethics. We aren't looking for cosmetic P; more for a company that serves genuinely the lives of its customers and preserve the environment together. I believe the core root cause is the values and ethics that dictate if CSR is merely a PR or it is a genuine CSR.

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

3 years ago #17

About eight years ago in this article in Green Biz, Thomas Lyon argues for the kind of "Corporate Social Responsibility" which is worthy CSR. This addresses corporate responsibility as actual "citizens". First we must cover the right Corporations acquired to be considered as persons here : https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/03/corporations-people-adam-winkler/554852/ Then we can see what Thomas Lyon said and why his definition of "corporate responsibility" leads to the creation of a "responsible organization". Lyon took this form CSR to be directed at fixing what most people find most objectionable about modern corporate power. That CSR fixes loopholes related to special interest power and political responsibility. Why CSR is Essential in the Real World of Business https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/09/20/why-csr-essential-real-world-business Turning CSR into a stream of revenue is no different to the existing practice of turning special interest into a stream of revenue. When CSR is a euphemism for PR, let us call it PR. Unless corporations act responsibly themselves, CSR is just another manipulative PR game that hardly holds them as an example of modern "citizens", now that they can claim the rights accorded as being seen by the law as a "person".

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#17
You are more welcome Gert Scholtz. I am happy the buzz added some value to you.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#16
Deborah Levine- Believe me that those companies that do so end up making huge profits. One example is Tetra Pack which opened up the Nigerian market with huge sales of packing material while helping to feed the school children with vitamin-enriched drinks.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#14
Thank you my poet friend Debasish Majumder

Gert Scholtz

Gert Scholtz

3 years ago #13

Ali \ud83d\udc1d Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee A very interesting post Ali - I learned something I did not know about my home "ground". CSR is important and your post expands on the topic in a very creative way. Thank you for tagging me and for the dedication - I appreciate it.

Gert Scholtz

Gert Scholtz

3 years ago #12

Ali \ud83d\udc1d Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee A very interesting post Ali - I learned something I did not know about my home "ground". CSR is a big theme in SA and your post expands on the topic in a very creative way. Thank you for tagging me and for the dedication - I appreciate it.

Debasish Majumder

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #11

nice buzz Ali \ud83d\udc1d Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#11
Yes, this is a form of "cosmetic strategy"- beautifying the surface, while the underneath is the same. I tried @Jerry Fletcher to give a real example of what genuine CSR can do. I hope this would encourage revisiting cosmetic strategies to beautify them from the inside as well.

Jerry Fletcher

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #9

Ali, Corporations, like any other entity are, at the core, all about survival. If CSR can help them do that, it will be employed. If it is too costly in time or money, it will not. In most cases it is, as Pascal points out, used for tactical PR purposes rather than as a strategic consideration. There are great expectations from outside corporations but inside there is little or no interest or inclination.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #8

#8
What you are describing Bill is Social Enterprising where companies are getting set up to fix issues or promote a strong social agenda. On the latter for example the promotion of state Tenders including a ratio of 3 to %% of suppliers fulfilling a Social book of works ( rehab , reinsertion etc...) is paramount to systemically promote B Corp status is also an another avenue which is far more tangible and productive than CSR which ultimately is a communication exercise in my view.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#8
That is the metaphor I wanted to convey in my buzz dear Bill King. I really like the way you expressed it. More, I enjoyed your elaboration that the cell phones the shrub preparing the soil for other economic plants to grow. This is a great perspective. Now, having read your excellent comment I wonder which land is more arid- the social land, the political land, or the technological land? I doubt if the technological land is arid as it does plays the role of the cell phone as the shrub allowing other societal and economic plants to grow. Great as I love comments that make me think such as yours.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#6
If we research for genuine examples there are few brilliant ones. Yes, we still have a long way to go because handful of examples aren't enough.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #5

#5
That's the ideal scenario but frankly I am extremely sceptical that full engagement is actually happening at scale.....

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#4
CSR has different levels on the ladder of responsibility. The ladder starts from pseudo engagement to full engagement. The latter means engagements of all the organizations and surely including employees to achieve a corporations's goal of serving the society. When this happens seeds shall germinate and flower. Superficial engagement is like scattering sand in front of eyes.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #3

CSR is a curious beast some corporations only use it to maximize their score in terms of employee engagement or ranking in best to work for type of competition, from what I have witnessed it is borderline on the emotional manipulation side of things, sometimes its not genuine and there seem to be at best ulterior motives at worst it is only a PR exercise :-(

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Louise Smith- this buzz is dedicated to both for you for a reason.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#1
Exactly your comment what I wanted to communicate in this buzz. The Australian example is a result of searching for growing ideas in arid minds. yes, unless we achieve this actions shall be focused on short time spans.. You expressed your view so well for expressing your point of view clearly and firmly.

More articles from Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

View blog