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on 22-Apr-10 01:01.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) celebrated the launch of the 'Walking the Talk' book giving an up to date exposition of the business case for corporate social responsibility with a debate - an event bringing together the most eloquent sceptics to face two of the book's authors for a no-holds barred contest.
Phil Watts, chairman of Shell, kicked the session off. He reflected that the Johannesburg summit had seen business to be part of the solution on the agenda of sustainable development, in complete contrast to Rio ten years earlier when it had been seen purely as part of the problem.
Watts said that these issues were difficult to face - they are about how you do business, not about peripheral matters, such as philanthropy. From Shell's point of view, the business case benefits of corporate social responsibility included the attraction and retention of key talent, the cost reductions available through eco-efficiency, risk reduction, the attraction of customers and enhanced reputation.
Business, he said, is not separate from society and cannot stand apart from it.
on 22-Apr-10 00:58.
By Mallen Baker
I am about to be mean to an organisation whose work I generally respect. But Christian Aid's Behind the Mask: The Real Face of CSR- has got my goat.
It attacks the growing corporate responsibility (CR) movement on the basis that it is a front for companies that simply want to avoid regulation. It uses three case study examples to support its claims. And it concludes by calling for legislation identical to the CORE bill, arguing for mandatory reporting and a UK equivalent to the US Alien Torts Claims Act.
on 22-Apr-10 00:56.
It shouldn't be a great surprise that the financial crisis should prompt a bunch of the standard anti-CSR arguments to be rolled out with renewed vigour and determination. We are told that this will be the event that proves that CSR is 'just a fad'. But the arguments are flawed.
The common factor between them all the critics comes down to how you can rewrite the definition of CSR as one that makes it easiest for you to dismiss it. So, for instance, some people argue that an approach to corporate social responsibility that achieves business benefits is nothing of that sort - THAT's just good business. So CSR must be only those things that are of no direct benefit to the business - ie. philanthropy. Cue the arguments about how CEOs should not be giving shareholders money away on their personal causes and projects.
This is just dumb. Nobody says that marketing is not marketing if it benefits the business, or HR is not 'pure' HR if its priorities align with the company's strategic objectives. CSR is about managing changing expectations by society on the business - it is not philanthropy.
on 22-Apr-10 00:53.
CSR Europe has launched its website toolbox on different aspects of corporate social responsibility. It is a huge resource for companies seeking information, standards, policies and practices in a number of key areas of responsible business practice.
The content is the outcome of a series of CSR "laboratories" that were carried out by different working groups of companies and other organisations on a series of different issues. The projects were meant to "explore innovative models of business-stakeholder co-operation and produce practical tools for tackling CSR challenges".
The content of the toolbox is grouped under five themes which cover business models, communication, sustainable practices, skills, and workplace issues.
So, for example, the section focusing on sustainable practices (headed 'Sustainable Production and Consumption - Treading Lightly') includes tools on eco-efficiency, a focus on the financial sector, and sustainable marketing. It gives information on best practices on the environment and mainstreaming CSR, and gives news updates on the same.
on 22-Apr-10 00:52.
2002 was a year that inherited a good many rumbles from the previous year. The full implications of the corporate governance debacles of Enron and Worldcom were still working their way through the system, but awareness was high that all the rules had changed. The only thing people didn't know was just how far, or how quickly, things would go.
Individuals were called to account through the year, and many articles and enquiries opined about the long term implications for business in general, and corporate social responsibility in particular. Easy comments that Enron - which had maintained a profile of socially responsible community involvement - discredited the CSR movement gave way to a better considered understanding of the breadth of the elements that made up a responsible business.
Integrity, ethics and corporate governance had to be the complementary characteristics that supported business programs to improve impact on society. Either without the other gave a false picture. This was a lesson that emerged from the speeches and articles of business leaders and legislators through the year.
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