Corporate Social Responsibility? now there’s an unattainable dream…

Aug 03, 2008

For about 35 years Corporate Social Responsibility has been a recognised term in business circles. Since the anti-capitalist movement and more especially the anti-sweatshop campaigns which originated in the university campuses around the USA, CSR has become a much used buzzword, a readily recognised acronym. We don’t have any faith in such a concept, so here we introduce a number of links, articles and resources that we think might help you to come to the same conclusion.

Self regulation of corporations for workers rights and welfare, environmental protection, and other ethical considerations is simply not going to work. Why can we be so sure of this damning indicment of the goodness of the soul of a corporation?

Two reasons – firstly a corporation has no soul, it’s a made up entity, it has no sense of right or wrong, no accountability other than the real bottom line, and that leads nicely on to the second reason. Profit. A corporation only exists to create financial benefit for it’s share holders. Especially at times such as we are experiencing now, when the financial situation starts to get a bit tight, the expenses and ‘niceties’ of benevolence towards people or the planet we live on gets relegated down the list of priorities.

Corporate Social Responsibility was supposed to change all that. The new style corporations who cared for the workers producing goods fo them in developing countries were going to have a better deal.

Environmental concerns of even oil companies were promoted through websites, advertising and gimmicks. BP trumpeted their greenness across the billboards and underground advertising hoarding in london in 2005. We have covered elsewhere on this site the crimes of BP – with a focus on their drilling concerns in Siberia through the troubled TNK-BP wing of the corporation.

Each time a corporate made problem comes into the public domain, the corporate world firstly try to brush it under the carpet and hope that not too amy people hear about it. If that fails they declare their horror at their own actions and promises to set things right through self monitoring and self regulation. It works to provide a smokescreen while CSR experts and corporate leaders act to limit the damage to their reputations and profit margins.

As long as the corporate world has control or influence over the governments and policies of this world, this will continue to be the situation. Yes, we need a world which puts people before profit, where corporate interests and behaviour are a weird and confusing chapter in history books. In the meantime though, we need regulation and scrutiny of the corporate world, with meaning and with power. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on it.

So check out the excellent article we publish on this site from Jeff Ballinger. Jeff is a pioneer of the anti-sweatshop movement, a man who has worked diligently for years on the subject and someone who has proved to be beyond the bribes and tricks of the corprate world. Jeff charts the history of the illusion that is CSR, he examines a few examples and proffers his ideas about how you can act to help the workers in the factories supplying Nike and Adidas and the rest.

We also link to other sites that will help you discover the truth behind the lie of the corps: that they care a jot.

LiNKS:

http://www.thecorporation.com/index.cfm
The Corporation movie – a fantastic examination of the Corporation from US film maker Joel Bakan
http://www.corporatewatch.org/
Corporate Watch – check out their brilliant report “What’s wrong with CSR?”
http://www.csrwire.com/
CSR wire – CSR news and stuff from the dark side – where unethical companies pose alongside misled and mistaken NGOs
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