February 4, 2009

News Update - CSR and the Economy

Over the course of the last few days, I've done some thinking and writing about the economy and CSR. Today, I decided to research what other bloggers and reporters are saying about the topic. In general, I continue to be optimistic about the future of this field, as several sources recommended that companies refrain from cutting back on CSR or reported that, empirically, this seems to be the trend. Some interesting articles on this topic are below:

  • Fortune reports, "...A surprising number of companies see corporate responsibility as all the more important given the financial crunch, even as they reduce spending elsewhere in their businesses."
  • On CauseGlobal, Marcia Stepanek writes about a new report by Trendwatching.com; she talks about consumer expectations, formed in part by the recession, that companies should be generous and highlights opportunities this creates for both companies and social entrepreneurs. (I'm interested in the fact that, while some of the examples listed are certainly traditional CSR or corporate philanthropy programs, some involve generosity from the company directly to the consumer. Does this have implications for traditional conceptions of CSR? For instance, does it mean that consumers are less concerned about a company's impact - i.e., social change - and more concerned about its values - which might be displayed by helping the relatively-fortunate consumer just as easily as by helping those with less?)
  • onPhilanthropy's Shikha Dalah considers corporate philanthropy and the pressures it is under in this economy; she comes to a conclusion similar to my position in yesterday's post: "Ultimately, the more integrated philanthropy is into the business, the greater chance it has to be able to achieve maximum impact even in the midst of changing economic circumstances." She also shares takeaways on this topic from a panel of corporate philanthropy executives at a recent Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York event. (I used to write for onPhilanthropy.com, where I also served as Corporate Philanthropy Editor.)
  • At FT.com, Stefan Stern takes a different perspective: "Now the recession's here we can forget all that nonsense about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and get back to trying to make some money."
  • Dinda Elliott, in Condé Nast Traveler's Daily Traveler blog, considers CSR programs among travel-industry companies and wonders whether companies will remain committed to such programs in the face of economic difficulties. While industry executives report that they will indeed maintain their social responsibility initiatives, Elliott is concerned that only programs with a direct link to the bottom line (e.g., energy conservation) will be maintained. (In the context of my post yesterday, might this in fact suggest that threatened programs have not been properly embedded in the business model?)
  • In October, Ethical Corporation took on this issue in a blog post, articulating 10 reasons to continue on with CSR programs during a recession. While the post is a few months old, it does a good job of laying out a number of key points on this side of the debate.


  1. Hi Jessica, you should check out this post by Wayne Visser



  2. good work jessica!