The corporate social responsibility movement has its critics in the business world—where some executives cling to Milton Friedman’s idea that the only responsibility of business is to create wealth for its shareholders—and in the NGO community, which tends to be cynical about the motivation of multinational corporations and the sincerity of their commitment.
But there is strong evidence that trust in large institutions—and corporations in particular—is declining, and at the same time, society is holding companies to ever higher standards of corporate citizenship. As a result, all corporations need to be aware of the need to protect themselves against charges of irresponsibility, and smart corporations are seeking to use increased responsibility to achieve competitive differentiation among consumers and other key stakeholders.
The Holmes Report convened an electronic round table discussion, bringing together experts on corporate social responsibility from around the world, to discuss trends in CSR, and their implications for public relations professionals. Participants included:
· Ed Harnaga, who runs the corporate reputation practice at Ruder Finn, where CSR consulting is a core component of the reputation practice;
· Fraser Hardie, senior partner of Blue Rubicon, a