There’s been an interesting debate in the plannersphere about the success or not of the Red initiative. For what it’s worth, I can understand why some think it has stalled in the face of consumer cynicism but it operates off a unique model so perhaps it’s a little early to say for sure. But it’s a good subject and prompts me to post some thoughts courtesy of Noreena Hertz (economist, campaigner, author of I.O.U, who spoke recently at the London Business Forum – there’s a short audio preview here) on just why businesses should take CSR seriously:
1. Of the top 100 economies in the world, 51 are countries and 49 are companies. People expect companies to make the R in CSR meaningful. That’s expect, not want.
2. 1 in 2 people in the UK boycott a product each year on ethical grounds
3. As Warren Buffett has said it takes 10 years to build a brand and 10 seconds to wreck it
4. Sales of ethically based products rose by 53% in 2006. According to nVision’s ‘Changing Lives’, around 70% of UK adults say that they would be prepared to pay more for products and services from a company if they knew it did a lot for the wider society and community.
5. People want to work for good companies. Who you work for says something about what you stand for, so good ones will retain the best staff.
6. Smart companies are now acting to maximise opportunities to prove their credentials. 10 of the biggest companies in the US took out an ad to oppose Bush’s rejection of the environmental bill
7. The top 400 richest Americans earn more than the combined income of 161 million sub-saharan Africans
8. Altruism is mainstream. Big NGO’s wield big influence and command big trust in a trust starved world. 79% of the population trust Amnesty International compared to the 27% who trust political parties
There’s also a useful and succinct definition of the business case for CSR here