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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

Practical surveys and research have indicated that in many small and medium enterprises within the Caribbean, CSR is confused with PR and also strictly with corporate philanthropy.

What are your thoughts? Does CSR and public relations overlap, are they mutually exclusive?

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Hi Astrid

I went through the myriad answers you got to your question and I thought I would add my bit. To me CSR and PR are two different practices yet they meet to serve the same purpose.... that of building the brand equity/loyality of a brand or company.
When an organization practices CSR, it should do so with the following thought in mind.... WHAT CAN I DO TO GIVE BACK TO SOCIETY? WHAT EVENT/DONATION/SUPPORT CAN I PROVIDE TO IMPROVE A SPECIFIC SERVICE OR THE LIKES USED BY SOCIETY OR THE NEEDY IN SOCIETY. It can be anywhere from subsiding an Old People's home, to sponsoring a social event, to donating towards the kitty used to building a recreational center in a needy neighborhood or simply hosting a chair in any university for a needy student. The list is endless and the efforts do not go unnoticed especially when the press hears of them and heralds the efforts of that particular company/organization. Here is where CSR and PR meet.
This support given by this organization to society is announced and goes towards the boosting of the image of that company and its management.
PR on the other hand is the use of the different types of Media to get the company message through and hence work towards the boosting of the image of the company and the building of the brand equity/loyalty. I am not too sure if this is a Utopian view to some but this is the way I see it. Hope I've been of help to you. Cheers
Thank you Maha for your response and yes, after all the information we can see that CSR and PR overlap. I see CSR more in terms of corporate governance rather than corporate philanthropy, where if a business has sound practices/operations/procedures, that is the foundation for CSR, with the external philanthropy coming after. I especially think so after observing so many companies using "greenwashing" via philanthropy and PR to hide a non-functional business operation!

Astrid F.
Most if not all CSR is PR - some of PR is CSR. When a company brings all of its PR work under a CSR umbrella or is seen through that lens the company (CEO) will understand the value of CSR better. CSR ought not be a cost center - it ought to formulate or express a code of behavior for a company. And CSR ought to represent the DNA of a company.

The ISO 26000 Standard when it comes out will become the bench mark to which all other CSR is compared to. Even the IMF refers to it in its New Rules on Governance - if only by way of footnote - it is symbolic. IMHO
Thank you for your response Mitch. I agree with many of your statements especially that where CSR should be the the company's center.

I don't agree that all CSR is PR - I can see having 100% internal control/sound corp. governance be totally showcased via PR, but for me, especially after this discussion, CSR = PR may encourage greenwashing or other "spins" that hide weak internal controls.

Thanks again,

Astrid F.
Astrid - My perception that All CSR is PR is a preferred world view - certainly not a reality - yet. and the notion that you say CSR = PR being used as a "greenwashing process is really the problem of all Corporate reporting - that is why I believe the ISO 26000 Standard is important - and having a verification (not audit) process.- that should prevent that use.- or at least give challenge to corporate behaviors
Understood. Thank you Mitch.
Hi I have read the ISO 26000 standards and I think that they are excellent for organizations that want to commit to their CSR strategy as an integrated business approach. I have read some information recently suggesting that the standards will not work for small and medium enterprises. I am curious as to your perspectives on the fit and uptake of the standards by organizations. What will be the main driver for organizaions to chose to adopt the standards especially as they are voluntary?
Hi Penny: sorry for the late response.
IMHO the main driver will be Purchase Ordering Policy that is developed by corporations following the policy - and it should be noted that the criteria for abiding by the standards as guidelines are fairly academic relying on "intention". This small distinction is not small. It speaks to the transformation of the Corporation from a "sick" puppy as defined in the film The Corporation - to one that intends to be part of the CSR movement.
Public Relations is an 'umbrella' term. CSR falls under the umbrella, therefore they do overlap. Whatever strategy, policy, and focus a company's PR plan utilizes should be mirrored in its CSR plan.
Though it's equally true to say "CSR is an 'umbrella' term. PR falls under the umbrella, therefore they do overlap. Whatever strategy, policy, and focus a company's CSR plan utilizes should be mirrored in its PR plan."
my words - not exactly!

the ISO 26000 Standard ought to be considered by all - as the Umbrella Standard - if you need to have an umbrella metaphor.

Even the GRI has involved itsaelf with the ISO 26000 Standard. The difficulty will be to get Human Resource People to address the social change that such a standard will call for.



P.S those in HR Development ought to look at this as an opportunity not a task.
great discussion! Lots of good ideas here.


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