BusinessWeek magazine’s January 29, 2006 cover story is entitled “Imagine a world” and addresses the recent trend in businesses focusing on the “triple bottom line” by integrating social responsibility into their strategy and plans. BusinessWeek also produces a podcast each week that focuses on the current cover article. (Quicktime7 or iTunes required.)
The December 2006 edition of the Harvard Business Review, the HBR Spotlight was entitled “Making a Real Difference” and it also focused on corporate social responsibility. HBS Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, managing director of FSG Social Impact Advisers, wrote a very interesting article entitled “Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.”
Additional interesting reading in this HBR issue includes From the Editor, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Getting the Logic Right,” the HBR Spotlight Introduction “Making a Real Difference” and “Disruptive Innovation for Social Change” by Clayton M. Christensen, Heiner Baumann, Ruddy Ruggles and Thomas M. Sadler rounds out this great HBR issue focusing on social changes. Finally, a free HBR Ideacast podcast with an interview with the authors can be also be downloaded.
It’s great to see that three major business magazines have devoted so much attention to corporate social responsibility over the past several months. Doing good is no longer just an option. Forward thinking corporations recognize the need and value to integrating socially responsible policies and activities into their overall business strategy. However, not every company is walking the walk yet. BusinessWeek writes:
The corporate responsibility field is littered with lofty intentions that don’t pay off. As a result, many CEO’s are unsure what to do exactly. In a recent McKinsey & Co. study of 1,144 top global executives, 79% predicted at least some responsibility for dealing with future social and political issues would fall on corporations. Three of four said such issues should be addressed by the CEO. But only 3% said they do a good job dealing with social pressures. “This is uncomfortable territory because most CEO’s have not been trained to sense or react to the broader landscape,” says McKinsey’s Mendonca. “For the first time, they are expected to be statesmen as much as they are functional business leaders.” Adding to the complexity, says Harvard’s Porter, each company must custom-design initiatives that fit its own objectives.
In the BusinessWeek podcast, author Pete Engardio notes that young CEO’s and potentials that participate in HBS and McKinsey training programs are particularly concerned about environmental sustainability and focused on CSR which would indicate a generational shift in the way corporate leaders envision their organization’s future.
While there is a lot of opportunity and potential ahead, the good news is that all of this media attention on CSR will ultimately prove that it is a trend with real legs and not simply the latest corporate fad.