It’s pretty toxic to think of your clients as Muppets. Reports of the death of Corporate Social Responsibility may be exaggerated in the light of the Goldman Sachs letter that appeared last week, but was this just a rogue trader or the conscience of the firm speaking its wrath? Which ever, the unwelcome spotlight shining on a supposedly top-ranking firm will have sent shivers down corporate spines.
And Goldman is not alone. Consider the following quotes:
“Banks must accept responsibility for past mistakes and show how they can contribute to society and economic growth”, Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays Bank, Nov. 2011.
“We need to be seen to be giving something more broadly to society”, Philip Clark, CEO of Tesco in the Financial Times.
“We are very conscious of our social responsibility”, Phil Bentley, MD of British Gas in Nov. 2011, 6 weeks before fuel poverty activists occupied British Gas offices.
Poor CSR policies are no better than sticking plasters – potentially dangerous ones if they lull management into a false sense of security. Without a sense of values, truly reflected through the company, there is an ever present danger of disillusion and rebellion – flooring the management, the share price and the bottom line!