Beyond traditional CSR: connecting is key

Without doubt: Many enterprises, academic institutions, politicians, foundations and other institutions have social responsibility activities ongoing. Some of them on a local level, others on a global level. Some of them are active to solve water problems, others are active in technical based challenges and others again build infrastructures for transportation… In many different countries, regions and local places. Some of them have set up entire teams and functions which are responsible to track and push social responsibility for their companies. CSR as a topic to be considered has arrived also at a high political level. There is a common understanding within corporations that taking care of environmental issues, health, education and other social needs have a decisive impact, probably the most important one on our future. The number of awards is growing, the number of related articles and studies, as well. Academics do what is possible within their “walls”, the same applies to many companies.
So far, so good.

The antisocializing business thinking
The problem? We mostly apply the same old business rules to CSR and social activities. We act as if CSR is similar to the development of a product – it seems to be a business secret before launch and a patent and licensed product afterwards.
Why do we not go across ” traditional functional or company borders” to make social responsible activities happen at a large scale and benefit from the knowledge and infrastructures of the single partners? Why do we not collaborate on a larger level and try to do it inside our walls? Why do most of CSR players try to change the world for better, but want to do it alone? We all know that in an isolated way companies can just achieve a small amount of change in certain areas.

The solution
The sistematic approach of change needs to be a top driven activity of diverse stakeholders of companies, of the private and public sector and politics together. Very transparent, open and actively looking to connect and collaborate “across the structural and organizational borders”. It has to become attractive to look for partnering opportunities wherever possible.

From the past decade we have learned that things can happen and change in the world if we offer the possibility to connect. Just think what has happened in the digital area and the impact it has on our societies, Facebook, Twitter….

It is the type of open connectivity that allows global change and making an impact. There is no single company or single entity that can create a mass movement. Social thinking has not been arrived yet in the CSR world.

As long as we apply traditional business rules to social activities I assume we will create limited impact only. Real change needs diversity, an open and inviting culture and the idea that traditional business rules are not the main driver.
What do you think?

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