Tuesday, 30 March 2010

CSR regulation vs. CSR definition

Nowadays there is a controversial debate on whether to regulate or not the activity of CSR.

The definition of CSR given by the European Commission mentions that CSR is 'A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.'

The key word in this definition is 'voluntary'. Therefore, companies are not obliged to conduct CSR activities, but they still do it. The reason for why they are investing in such activity, though, is another discussion. Some may say that companies use CSR just to for their own reputation. It is true, but today CSR has developed in such way that it is a matter of competitiveness. Therefore, it has become more than an option, but rather a necessity. Still, not compulsory. And after all, it is a win-win situation. Companies win good reputation, and society is doing better.

But I believe it makes no sense to regulate this activity. Isn't that enough that the evil masterminds of capitalism are paying taxes to the government? And maybe they're not that evil since they voluntarily invest in society's well-being. I don't argue that they are the guardian angels, but rather pragmatic.

I think the core of this controversial discussion is to maintain the boundary between CSR and law abiding activity, which is very blurry nowadays. For example, there are laws that limit carbon dioxide emissions, but still companies describe their attempt to reduce their emissions as CSR activity. Maybe this matter should be looked at from a macro-economic perspective. History has demonstrated that after a period of highly deregulated systems which approached perfect capitalism, crises appeared which were followed by the keynesian concept of welfare state. Therefore, CSR was easier to detect in a highly deregulated environment, but today, in the context of globalization and, recently, economic crisis, laws came out that overlap the activity of CSR.

In this case, should the definition be changed?

Urban readings – a needed Romanian campaign

Before coming to the small town of Stirling, I spent all my life in Bucharest, a big, crowded, noisy city. And travelling with the public transport to the place of interest was a real exercise of patience, as I used to lose two hours a day for this 'productive' activity. And because it was no use in 'admiring' the grey walls which I already knew, I used to listen to my music and stare into vacancy or read a book.

Which is why I really appreciated the campaign Urban Lectures developed in Bucharest by a romanian association involved in social projects, Civika.ro. The idea of the campaign is to encourage people to read while commuting, by choosing a day in each month, in which volunteers would read in the subway and offer free books to the travelers.

But this campaign is more than just a nice, original idea. It is actually well-grounded in the romanian context. A recent survey developed by GfK Romania, which revealed the reading habits of romanians, shows some alarming results. Romanians read only three times a month, and a third from the respondents never read. Also, only one from three persons bought books in 2009.

This is why I think this campaign is a good idea, because it managed to communicate that we actually have free time to read, the free time that everyone is complaining about.

Other campaigns on the same theme were Adevarul Library or Library for all, developed by two of the major newspapers in Romania, which sell once a week a book together with the newspaper.


To all the readers:

On this blog you will find posts containing subjects related to Public Relations theory and practice. Hopefully, it will be of some interest to you. Keep in mind, though, that this blog contains PERSONAL OPINIONS.

Comments related to the posts are very welcome, as I believe critique is constructive.