Corporate social responsibility: oxymoron or necessary for our future?

Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD

Tim Mohin responds to the charge that his book on corporate social responsibility fails to ask whether CSR can ever be enough.

In Adrian Henriques’ critique of my book, Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations, his main complaint is not about the value of my advice but the effectiveness of CSR itself.
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ISO 26000: The best available roadmap for organisations to follow in enhancing their commitment to CSR

Less expensive and easier to get to grips with: “A better initial approach for sustainability professionals would be to buy this guidebook [rather than the standard itself]”

Ira Feldman reviews ISO 26000 by Lars Moratis and Timo Cochius:

I approached this book – the first guide to the ISO 26000 standard to appear after its publication in late 2010 – with great trepidation. Any book seeking to provide a complete and balanced overview of the new standard on social responsibility (“SR”), given its broad scope of seven core topics and its genesis in a fractious multi-stakeholder process, faces a daunting task. And the authors, Moratis and Cochius, while apparently seasoned CSR consultants, were not players in the international-level ISO/SR process. So, as the leader of one of the ISO/SR stakeholder groups (Service, Support, Research & Others or “SSRO”) and as the co-chair of one of the core topic drafting teams (Environment), I must admit that I was a bit sceptical. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded as I have found the Moratis and Cochius book to be remarkably useful both in terms of summarising the key aspects of the standard and in identifying some of the more contentious issues.
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A Corporate Responsibility Mentor in Your Back Pocket

Review by Samantha Johnston

If you’ve ever tried convincing your colleagues to “do the right thing” only to find blank and dubious stares looking back at you, you’ll want to read Changing Business From the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations. Written by Net Impact board member Tim Mohin, the book is an ultra-practical how-to guide for any aspiring corporate responsibility (CR) professional.
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The Third Way

Occupy Wall Street photo

Capitalism in crisis?

2008. The year a large stone finally dropped into the calm waters of the financial markets, changing the face of our world forever. The ripple effect has been felt everywhere, sparking scenes of protest against financial deregulation and heavy-handed government austerity measures. The public mistrust big business more than ever. As well they might, because they must foot the bill for years of wrongdoing and carelessness. Since the global financial crisis began, we have witnessed previously unthinkable scenes around the world. Who would have thought that a few protesters in the financial powerhouse of New York would set off a global Occupy movement? That bankers would boast openly about the money-making opportunities offered by recession? Or that millions would take to the streets, decrying savage cuts to their pensions?
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Business-Civil Society Partnerships Essential for Greater Social Change

Jem Bendell, author

In his excellent and useful guide, Evolving Partnerships: A Guide to Working with Business for Greater Social Change, Jem Bendell says, “The appetite for partnerships appears strong. Over 90% of corporate executives responding to a World Economic Forum survey felt that future ‘partnerships between business, government, and civil society would play either a major role or some role in addressing key development challenges’.”

Highlighting the advantages of cross-sector partnerships, the author has pointed out, “The engagement with professionals working in other sectors enables people to expand their view on a particular challenge, and understand the relationships and interests that shape the situation.”
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Dilemmas in Responsible Investment

Dilemmas in Responsible Investment examines the problems responsible investment (RI) practitioners face daily. It emphasises the importance of asking the right questions as well as getting the right answers; and the importance of process as well as product. The authors pay attention to the diversity of opinion and variety of approaches available. They also raise fundamental questions about the very purpose of investment and the responsibilities of investors, both economic and societal.

Although dilemmas in RI are not always easily resolved, Louche and Lydenberg believe that they are also a source of valuable and necessary debate about the appropriate role of corporations in society and the ability of the financial markets to appropriately serve the societies in which they operate. Such dilemmas provide a valuable framework for public debate and can encourage the emergence of innovative answers and approaches.
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Landmarks for Sustainability: Events and Initiatives That Have Changed Our World

Wayne Visser, author of Landmarks for Sustainability

The world has been working on sustainable development since at least 1987, when the UN World Commission on Environment and Development published its report, Our Common Future. Since then, however, many of the global challenges (climate change, biodiversity, drinking water availability, urbanisation, to list only a few) are getting worse, rather than better. To support educated thinking on sustainable development, knowledge of its history, facts and figures is helpful.

This book supports this kind of understanding. In 20 chapters, it reviews five main areas of sustainable development. It starts with environment, health and safety with data on climate change, the state of the planet and crisis events. Section two is on ‘Society and Economy’ and addresses issues of globalisation, poverty and human rights. Following the challenges are the global responses. Section three is on (international) leadership, business associations and social enterprises. A section follows this on industrial, financial and consumer collaboration. This book is concluded with four chapters on management for sustainable development. They deal with international standards, corporate governance and (industrial) stakeholders.
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Leadership for Sustainability: An Action Research Approach

Leadership for SustainabilityI rarely read a leadership text from cover to cover, but I found this to be a page turner, reading more like a novel, difficult to put down, and I wondered what each of the short stories would reveal as people have been moved to: “take on the challenges of living courageously in extraordinary times” (p.1).

The background story, told by editors Judi Marshall, Gill Coleman and Peter Reason in chapters one to three is of the development and growth of an MSc programme in Responsible Business Practice (RBP), launched in 1997 at Bath University. The programme was co-founded by the editors and inspired by the work of Anita Roddick, to whom this book is dedicated.

Gill Coleman

The MSc alumni maintain the RBP community, people working in situations all over the world, in organizations of varying size, across a number of professional disciplines, governments, corporations and charities.
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Teaching Business Sustainability

Businesses today, as never before, are being challenged by the unrelenting and ever-increasing demands to address the concern of a wide range of critical stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, employees and communities.

While businesses grow and prosper worldwide and though hundreds have been brought out of abject poverty and deprivation, poverty persists in many parts of the world.

Increasingly businesses are realising that the search for sustainability is not only about cutting costs. It is about creating business value and inventing models which deliver societal and market success.

Experts point out that:

In the 21st century, rather than focusing singularly or even primarily on the “financial bottom line” and the financial assets they process, sustainable companies are looking at themselves and their future through the lens of the “five capitals models” of natural, human, social, manufactured and financial capital.

Managers trained to believe that profits are the primary purpose of their business often find it difficult to believe that the financial bottom line can improve through social responsibility and environmental initiatives.
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