Industrial societies are in search of a ‘new purpose’ and CSR is part of the emerging new story for business leaders.
Global mega challenges such as environmental sustainability, ageing population, youth unemployment, debt addiction and the increasing marginalisation of people & culture, have caused big-picture thought leaders to question the validity of ‘exponential economic growth’ as either a meaningful purpose or a viable option for a modern society. In recent years we have suffered through several examples of global system failure, including the global economic crisis.
Increasingly suspicious of big business, consumers and legislators alike have repudiated the old idea that the business of business is (only) business. There is increasing recognition that business, now the most powerful force influencing human civilisation, must accept a greater sense of responsibility for the whole. Companies that don’t ‘get-it’ get punished by consumers, the media and by law.
Those that embrace it authentically usually benefit from increased customer loyalty, improved employee engagement, better talent attraction & retention and an improved bottom line.
Consequently, most business leaders today probably do acknowledge (perhaps hesitantly) some sort of responsibility for stewardship of the earth and human society, yet most struggle with how best to act on this in a meaningful way. Beyond the rhetoric, for the sustainability movement to continue, CSR practices have to be made easier for every business to adopt, not just the early adopters and a zealous minority. Any likelihood of long-term viability of the economy, our communities and the environment all hinge on our ability to make sustainable practices mainstream.