Prof Geoff Heal suggested that there isn’t a great deal of historical data relating to the impact assessment of a recession on CSR policies and practices. Unsurprisingly, it was presumed that profits will be harder to come by in such times, but where CSR is embedded and contributes toward the bottom line, we can expect such policies to subsist; yet if these practices relate more toward PR or philanthropy, one might predict more reduced roles. Invariably, some firms will fall into each of these categories. It was suggested that Business 2 Consumer CSR (especially if tied to brand value) would be less impacted than Business 2 Business CSR, where some cutbacks might well be anticipated, which is somewhat of a moot point. He did however suggest that there is some evidence to suggest that, in an increasingly competitive environment, CSR policies can actually contribute to greater profits (such as in retail).
The commentary was pretty broad ranging yet there were some interesting points of view from the panel on the financial bailout, as well as various recommendations for the incoming Obama team. Overall, the discussion was worth listening to, if you can find the opportunity.