Last night, I attended the American German Business Club meeting in Munich where Fritz Lietsch, the publisher for Forum-CSR International (http://www.forum-csr.net/), presented on corporate social responsibility. He talked about the growing awareness for corporations of their social responsibility – from environment to fiscal responsibility. There were 2 points that he made that I thought were key. The first was the CSR cannot just be a buzz-word for the marketing and PR department to use, but rather must be based on actions. That actions must come before words – do something and then talk about. Many corporations talk about it but do not do anything. You need to do it because it matters – not because you think it helps your image and bottom line (but ok if it does). The second key point was that this must become part of the corporate culture – embedded in their DNA. He also discussed how Germany lagged behind US in thinking about CSR but that was changing.
For me, the corporate DNA struck home. I spent most of my career at Texas Instruments in Dallas where being a good corporate citizen ranked equally, or close, to making profit. TI always took it seriously and did not do it for marketing purposes.
After the meeting, I talked to many of the attendees – both Americans and Germans. To my surprise, many did not ‘get’ what the presentation was about and how it impacted them. They had no idea what they could or should do. Later, I remembered then that as a college graduate in my first job at NCR Corporation, that I saw all the paper that was thrown out – and personally bought some recycle cans to use and took the paper to the recycling center every Saturday. This was back in the early 70’s before recycling was popular (and before I understood corporate hierarchy). I hope they are still recycling now – and it is part of their DNA.
Corporate culture changes are not just top down. We can all play a role in changing the corporate DNA. I challenge myself and others to look at how our company could be a better corporate citizen and how to make corporate social responsibility part of our company’s DNA. What can you do?
Shari Temple, Managing Director - Aidmatrix Europe