Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Where does your business or profession stand in terms of ethics and corporate social responsibility? I teach a business course where we explore the imperative of ethical and socially responsible behavior for businesses and business professionals. Earlier this week I watched a very provocative movie, The Corporation (, which explores these topics in a very candid, upfront manner.

Social responsibility is often seen as the integration of economic, social and environmental initiatives into a businesses operation and culture. Strategis Canada has established a website dedicated to the exploration of this critical topic for business today. As they state, "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) resembles the business pursuit of sustainable development and the triple bottom line". Historically business' bottom line has equaled profit, with no or little regard to the business impact on communities, small scale economies, or the environment.

A couple of years ago I was privledged to hear Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias speak on this topic to the 2002 ASTD International Conference in New Orleans. As someone who dedicated the early part of my career to sustainable development initiatives around the world, and a Masters in Environmental Studies, I was very intrigued by what he had to say. Sadly, more than one-third of attendees left before the end of his keynote in which he challenged American business to play a leadership role in the world on corporate social responsibility. Interestingly enough this was before the ImClone and Enron scandals hit the radar screen.

What is your role in supporting corporate social responsibility? What is your stance on ethics - do you have an ethical code in place?

For more information on corporate social responsibility you may want to check out the Government of Canada's Strategis website dedicated to this topic - it includes discussion on the definition of CSR, best practices, as well as tools which can be used by business and other organizations to review and enhance their performance with respect to CSR.

If you haven't seen the movie, The Corporation, check it out. It will certainly generate some interesting dialogue.

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, CHRP, CPCC
Potentials Realized

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