……..and probably the hardest. How to break cover and explain why I make a claim to public space? The truth is that concepts of sustainability and CSR can masquerade at first glance as fairly simplistic ideas of fresh air and apple pie, who could be against it?In fact, it is an immensely complex set of ideas to try to put into practice. What are the material responsibilites, how do we reconcile them within market constraints, where are the opportunities, who are the legitimate stakeholders? And although I have worked on both sides of the desk on corporate side CSR here and also as CSR campaigning advocate here and here for quite a few years I still find that easy answers are as elusive to me as ever. Some think sustainability has an overly zealous nature. It doesn’t help that it is hard to define the equilibrium point of sustainability much less how to get there. But on the other hand and speaking of zeal, what’s with the invisible hand?
The one thing I have learned from the campaigning side is the need to be pragmatic rather than too ideological. It seems counter intuitive that principled campaigns need to be pragmatic to be successful but it’s true. Perfection can’t be achieved in one campaign. On the other hand I think business leaders counter intuitively maybe more shackled by narrow market idealized view to the cost of really understanding the true impact of broader externalities and material threats to reputation and the associated flip side opportunities. The internet, globalisation, accelerating pace of innovation combined with global problems of climate change, population explosion and abject poverty are raising the stakes for business on all aspects of corporate governance and strategy execution. CSR really never has been more important and is here to stay in one form or another.
Today I work on CSR at SAP and I sense the next few years will be very interesting for the company and the entire industry in this subject area. I suspect our sector will come under more focus as society demands more than just transparency but also innovation to enable a more sustainable global system. I hope through this blog I can distill a few ideas, float a few baloons, strike up a few ardent debates and share a bit of the day job experience and draw on the wisdom of crowds. I’ll try to draw on gallows humour along the way also. Web 2.0 is just made for such dialogue and I’m a little surpised that there seem to be far fewer CSR blogs out there than I expected. Maybe I’m looking in all the wrong places but if there are only a few out there now I am sure there will be many more very soon.