Corporate Watch

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What's Wrong With Corporate Social Responsibility

Claire Fauset
Originally published: 
Corporate Watch, 2006

Can big business be part of a sustainable future? Or is the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a contradiction in terms? Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the hot corporate strategies of our era, but should we trust companies to live up to their newly professed 'values'?

What's Wrong With Corporate Social ResponsibilityThis report aims to critique not only the practice of CSR, but also the concept. Many commentators, despairing at the fact that companies have failed to clean up their act despite so many claims of social responsibility, say that companies need to return to the point of what CSR was supposed to be all about, to remind themselves of the social and environmental objectives that we are all supposed to be working towards. These commentators miss the fact that CSR was, is and always will be about avoiding regulation, covering up the damage corporations cause to society and the environment and maintaining public co-operation with the corporate dominated system.

What's Wrong With Corporate Social Responsibility examines:

  • Why CSR exists.
  • Arguments put forward by business to convince us that they are serious about social responsibility.
  • What it would mean for a corporation to be socially responsible.
  • Why CSR is incompatible with the way the corporation is structured.
  • Why the corporation can never disinterestedly work for the public good.

As a criticism of CSR, this report aims to provide readers with the tools to see through the spin. It also aims to be provocative, to challenge those involved in the CSR industry, as NGO workers, CSR professionals or consumers, to question the underlying assumption that companies as currently constituted can be part of a shift to a more sustainable and socially just society. This report aims to push a more radical edge in the debate around CSR. As such it does not claim to have all the answers and invites open exchange.

To download the report, click on the attachment below.