Moving from CSR to CCSR Strategy
We have some remarkable people here in Ottawa—and I have had the good fortune to have gotten to know one of them. Mr. Eli Fathi has been instrumental in developing one of the premier conferences worldwide dedicated to learning and sharing information around the concept of Corporate Social Responsiblity (CSR).
Mr. Fathi has been a very successful entrepreneur here in Ottawa for many years. He was a co-founder of one of the 'Silicon Valley North' success stories at Newbridge Networks, and today he is co-founder and co-CEO at chide.it, producers of the outstanding FluidSurveys web application.
And in between his many commercial endeavors, Eli has been very involved in giving back to the community, sitting on a variety of Boards of Directors and using a good deal of his free time to help make our city a better place in which to live and do business.
Eli was one of the first around to grasp the importance of CSR and the payback it can provide to businesses that engage effectively in acknowledging the Triple Bottom Line. To help share his knowledge with others, Eli developed the CCSR conference that is heading into its fourth edition, and last year saw more than one thousand attendees.
We have invited Eli to share his thoughts on the subject here in the Delta blog.
I hope that you enjoy his approach as much as I do!
In today’s environment, businesses must not only act in a sustainable fashion when addressing social and environmental issues, but also must be perceived to act in an acceptable fashion. The way in which the business is perceived by the local community is paramount to the overall longevity and success of the business, and is a function of its ability to add value to the socio-economic fabric of the community it operates within. A business must continue to evolve and identify innovative ways to transform itself and deliver on its commitment to meet the needs of its internal stakeholders as well its external stakeholders—which includes the community.
It is all about empowering a way of life for its stakeholders to carry out their daily activities at work and in the community in a sustainable fashion. The question is whether there is an optimal way to create a behavioral change within organizations and people to achieve the desired results?
We are all familiar with the carrot approach (generate solar energy and receive a higher price for it) and stick approach (financial penalties for exceeding specific emission limits). The carrot method stimulates changes but its impact diminishes as the incentive is removed whereas the stick method promotes a minimalist approach to changes. Thus both methods are constraints in their ability to create a long term behavioural change.
Education on the other hand, can truly influence behavioural changes. One of the key goals of the Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conferences (CCSR) www.ccsrconference.com which has been held annually at Algonquin College since 2008 is to celebrate & showcase excellence in the area of Social, Economic & Environmental sustainability by increasing the awareness to the key issues related to the successful implementations of CCSR within various organizations.
Best practices from around the world are highlighted and their applicability to the Canadian way of life are examined. The goal is to develop “a made in Canada solution” derived based on input from a Canadian perspective inspired by findings of a series of national studies conducted by Abacus Data in conjunction with the CCSR conference.
So what have we learned over the past 3 years? The majority of the findings are inline with other data points from around the world. However there are a couple of interesting facts worth noting:
Ethics matters: There is significant market for ethical investments in Canada as a large portion of Canadians say they pay attention to the ethical nature of their portfolios.
Local trumps national or international: Canadians are more concerned with the social and environmental impact of issues in their own backyard over national or even international concerns.
Environmental sustainability is now a given: It appears that all the media coverage over the past decade has made corporations and individual Canadians more cognisant of the environment, and one can almost say that it is embedded in their DNA to act in a sustainable fashion.
Social now outranks environmental in terms of CSR focus: Canadians appear to have changed their top priority of concern from the environment to social issues.
As a matter of fact, when polled Canadians have ranked social causes ahead of environmental issues including, in an order of priority: affordable housing; education and skills development; and hunger reduction. Furthermore, there is hardly any differentiation in rankings across all demographic groups across Canada on these issues.
How should corporations and organizations seeking to develop CSR strategies respond to these findings? Focus a major portion of the CSR programs to impact on local communities, and complement environmental issues with social issues to create CCSR strategy.
If you would like to learn more about this topic or keep up with the status of the CCSR Conference 2012, we encourage you to join the LinkedIn Group, Community & Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR) Forum.
This post originally appeared on Eli Fathi's blog and appears here with his permission.