CSR: How to be taken seriously

From Milton Friedman and his declaration that “the social responsibility of businesses is to increase profits” in the 1970s to the famous “Business with Impacts” today, mentalities have changed. So why does it feel like nothing has actually changed all that much?

Companies are struggling to deploy their CSR policies, finding a lack engagement and acceptance at all organizational levels. The brunt of responsibility for implementing these policies falls on “CSR managers”, who often occupy a low position in the company hierarchy and struggle to be heard. When they do get their message through, it is often met with apathy and skepticism.
Frank de Bakker, researcher at IESEG, and co-author Christopher Wickert sought to understand the reasons for this resistance to
change. They spoke to a dozen officials in German multinationals, who give the impression that they are walking on eggshells. de Bakker and Wickert found that unconsciously, they display signs of frustration with organizational inertia, however careful they are to communicate their position as “patience over the long-term is better than brute force”.
There are several strategies for shedding the status quo and bringing about real change. CSR managers must know how to build alliances; prioritize a multitude of small victories over occasional, large triumphs; and incorporate social proximity into their main theoretical principles (discussing responsibility on a personal level rather than an intellectual one). Finally, they must be willing to adapt their speech, their language and even the way they dress, understanding that they are more likely to be taken seriously if they fit into their environment.

Learn more:How to “sell” CSR in large companies” an article by Business Digest for IESEG.