Clean and False Notes of CSR

Clean and False Notes of CSR

Even social entrepreneurs who sincerely work for the future of humanity by solving its current acute issues are not hummingbirds and do not eat nectar.

A business secret

Humanity has been playing various games throughout its history. One of the favourite pastimes is business – the game of making money. Material culture arose as a result of economic activity, with the exception of a certain part of sacred buildings and artifacts created in the format of selfless service and worship. And so, no matter what euphemisms management theorists use to veil the true purpose of entrepreneurship, i.e. maximizing the value of capital and market share, etc. in the end, it is about achieving the personal goals of the beneficiaries and strengthening their well-being. That is, completely selfish motives.

In different cultures, people have different attitudes toward the desire of entrepreneurs to live well and realize their personal potential. The protestant ethic actually equates individual business success to serving God; the communist ethic, with its class hatred, equates to crime. The first line encourages businessmen to share their wealth with joy and voluntarily, and the second to hide as far as possible or run away.


Pragmatic foundation of CSR

Somewhere between these two extremes lies what we call corporate social responsibility. In its most primitive form, it is a certain payment of the company (its owners) to society for the right to earn money. As a rule, this happens in the case of indifference to the business of one or another culture or in a situation where the same business makes money with not-too-clean methods. Essentially, by spending money on public needs, entrepreneurs pay for a “trading place” or neutralize their reputational risks or provide themselves with a safer/more comfortable living environment. (It is in such cases that pseudo-CSRs such as “buy 2 computers and pay the price of 10 to tell about it”, “let’s gather people to drink and eat for 100,000 so that they donate 50,000, and we will donate these 50,000 to the poor on our behalf.)

In its most exalted manifestation, CSR is a real worldview position of the beneficiaries, which is implemented with the help of social projects that are indeed useful to the population of the respective territory. However, the nature of business does not change here either. Even social entrepreneurs who sincerely work for the future of humanity by solving its current acute issues are not hummingbirds and do not eat nectar. Financial indicators remain among the performance criteria of such companies.


Culture of service

Likewise, the content of real, not fake, social responsibility does not change. It is difficult to call a company socially responsible if, for example, it builds children’s playgrounds throughout the country but sells food products that threaten people’s health. Or, for example, a mobile operator that spends huge money on high-profile art projects and at the same time neglects the needs of its subscribers. Or a business structure that abuses tax optimization. Or a sweaty exploitation system applied to personnel. Because being a decent corporate citizen for a business structure, first of all, means conducting its main economic activity in a high-quality, conscientious, and responsible manner, i.e. taking into account the interests of society when choosing investment directions and formats, preventing the predatory squandering of natural resources and the humiliation of human dignity. And only in addition to this, implementing social projects, the benefits of which are visible to the general public. But washing the neck up to the neckline and arranging a feast during the plague is not about social responsibility but business populism in a cynical form.

So far, this is not the most popular CSR logic, as the socio-economic situation in the country does not motivate its observance. However, it is still starting to spread. And the more CSR will have clean notes instead of false ones, the more companies will sincerely serve society instead of hypocritically imitating service, and the closer we will be to a good world. No matter how idealistic it sounds.

Focus 2018