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My Themes for 2010

Originally posted at CSR Perspective


Below are some themes that appeal to me and that I plan to explore further during the coming year. Hopefully you can see a link between these and some of the items on my wish list for the coming decade in my previous post.

Regaining trust – A major discussion within the business world. Businesses are at the bottom of the barrel on public trust, equal only with politicians. Will increased corporate citizenship be enough to change this or do we need to do something more fundamental?

Stakeholder engagement – I spent a lot of time on employee engagement in the last month or two of 2009. I am interested in other stakeholder groups too and in particular the contrasting expectations individuals have of a company depending on which stakeholder hat they are wearing.

Terminology - CR, sustainability, philanthropy... we sprinkle these and many other terms into our discussions. While I am aware of the differences in their meanings I have had difficulty envisaging a framework that accommodates them all. I have recently started to see how they could fit together and I hope to collect my thoughts enough to write a short paper on this, or failing that, at least a chart!

The role of the CR practitioner – What are the components of a profession as opposed to a job? Certification, ethics codes, job descriptions, specialist recruiters, insurance indemnity. As a governing board member of the Corporate Responsibility Officers (CRO) Association and chair of the professional development committee of the association I am passionate about creating a foundation for the CR practitioner that puts it on a par with other professions. I hope to work on making some of these a reality in 2010.

Public versus private companies – I am interested in the change in value judgments in privately owned companies compared with public companies. Whether the paternalistic approach of small family owned business, the reasons for the feeling of betrayal when companies like Ben and Jerry’s and Stoneyfield’s Yogurt are acquired, the strong ethics values felt by employees of Mars (a family owned business) compared with the superior transparency of publicly owned companies.

Measurement –I want to make CR more accountable through increased quantification of CR initiatives. At the same time I want business to be less beholden to narrow objectives and quantification of results and instead be able to take a more holistic view of success. Are these two objectives complementary or irreconcilable?

I’d also be interested in hearing your thoughts on what CR themes and issues are going to impact 2010. Have I left something out?