When CSR is in your DNA

Liz Harrison
The Co-operative Group

WHAT IS CSR?

It does not matter what is considered to be Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). What matters is what CSR is not.

The world of business has embraced a whole new language – 'business ethics', 'sustainability', 'socially responsible investment', 'ethical trading', 'stakeholder dialogue'. At first sight this appears so very different from the 70's, 80's and 90's where the prevailing thinking was summed up by Margaret Thatcher's favourite economist, Milton Freidman, in the much-quoted phrase: “The business of business is business”.

There have been some high profile examples of what can happen when this mantra is followed. Think Enron. Few now agree that business should get off so lightly, or should be allowed to maximise profits with no obligation other than to do so within the law.