Much has been said about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it is often just greenwashing (depicting of a product or service as green when it actually is not) or even hogwash, but Mark Wade, in an interview with The Straits Times on 6 April, claims that CSR is not just an after-thought but something firms should actively pursue.
According to Wade, management today is learning that it is no longer "customer is king" but "society is king" as greater awareness about the Earth's environmental situation allows appreciation of how precious our Earth is. He also asserts that developing countries, while pre-occupied with basic fundamentals like feeding their populace, need to be able to leapfrog (with help from developed countries in terms of capital and technology) the "mistakes and excesses of developed nations since the Industrial Revolution" to prevent further damage on the Earth's environment. His conviction is that the latest technology tends to be more cost and resource efficient and hence have lower operating costs that would make it cheaper in the long run to operate, though I think there will need to be some basic infrastructure and support in terms of a populace equipped with the appropriate skills to operate these technology. This would probably be where firms come in to do their part for developing countries, whether as part of their operations in these countries or as part of outreach and philantrophy.
However he says that companies have to be convinced about CSR and be committed to it, rather than just pay lip-service, which would then be counter-intuitive as well as breed "cynicism and disillusionment". He believes that there needs to be an explanation and justification for CSR, which seems to contradict with impressions of CSR as altruistic, but I guess the idea is that there needs to be a defined purpose, objective and goal in CSR, rather than just imposing it top-down without justification or support.
A rather interesting interview that management should read to better shape their CSR policies.