CSR, CSV…..shared value and shared confusion

These acronyms are not the only ones that cause confusion in this space. There is ‘corporate philanthropy’ and corporate responsibility’ that add to the confusion. How can words such as philanthropy and responsibility be interchangeable? They have different meanings and different linguistic functions and must therefore refer to different types of action. In common parlance philanthropy is understood to be closer to charity than responsibility. And of course the traditional meaning of social responsibility was to be charitable. Give without receiving that is. The new gurus however are saying that unless you receive there is no point in giving! Basically companies must not enter this area at all unless they can see a clear commercial advantage.  There is no giving away of corporate funds for social development out of the goodness of some CEO’s heart. In this context, the newly minted concept of Corporate Shared Value is a nice spin. Thank you Mr Porter and Mr Kramer (see Mint interview Friday November 4, 2011). Here CSR and sustainability sit under CSV! Example: polluting industries must see this misdemeanor not just as harmful to the environment and socially bad for human beings, but as a waste of money that actually belongs to the profit line. Great as incentives go, will resonate well with finance heads and other money minded leaders. But the ‘visionaries’ may have a problem with it since it tends to take away from the ‘feel good’ factor that very often motivates such corporate action, the ‘leave my mark’ push that corporate CEOs believe sets them apart from predecessors.


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