Monday, December 20, 2010

Video: Jeff Hamaoui on Social Innovation & Cross-Sector Partnerships

Jeff Hamaoui is Founder & President of Cazneau. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, he talks about the need for forging cross-sector partnerships in order to make social innovation possible. The interview took place in San Francisco on 16 September 2010.

CSR in Finland

Guest blog by Arno Kourula

Finland is a highly developed and educated northern European republic and European Union member country with approximately 5.2 million inhabitants. Since the second World War, Finland has transformed from a farm and forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy. In this Nordic welfare state, public institutions have traditionally played a significant role in providing a societal safety net and levelling inequalities.

Since the recession of the early 1990s, the country has increasingly opened its financial markets, the energy and telecommunications sectors have internationalized and been privatized, and a large information and communication technology sector has developed lead by Nokia. According to international rankings, the country is one of the least corrupt and of the most competitive nations in the world.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has traditionally been largely implicit in nature, meaning that the state is assumed to take care of social issues and there has not been as strong a philanthropic tradition as in many countries. Nonetheless, a more explicit form of CSR has emerged, although gradually and unevenly. CSR has expanded from quality and environmental management trends towards a more comprehensive understanding of sustainability. Finnish companies have been relatively progressive in CSR and they perceive it as a potential competitive advantage.

Current priority issues in the area include employment practices, ethical consumption, the environment and climate change, competitiveness and cultural adaptation (i.e. operations of Finnish companies abroad). Compared with other European countries, Finland scores high on CSR aspects, such as sustainability reporting, explicit value statements, codes of conduct, adoption of management standards, membership in CSR organisations and networks, and participation in socially responsible investment. In the 2007 State of Responsible Competitiveness evaluation by AccountAbility, Finland is in 3rd place globally.

A key driver for Finnish CSR is legislation and government representatives tend to hold the view that the primary role of the state is to provide a legal framework within which business operates. The government emphasises the voluntary aspect of CSR in its public policy and has not been very keen on promoting Finland as a CSR frontrunner. Key pieces of legislation related to employment, accounting, social security and environmental protection form the baseline for corporate social responsibility. The Finnish government also promotes key international initiatives such as the OECD guidelines, UN Global Compact, and ILO principles.

Key CSR organizations in Finland include the the Committee on Social and Corporate Responsibility (a multistakeholder roundtable organized by the Ministry for Employment and the Economy), the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Finnish Business and Society (an enterprise network) and the Central Chamber of Commerce (ICC Finland).

While most universities in Finland offer courses related to CSR, institutions with larger programs on CSR both in teaching and research include Aalto University, Hanken School of Economics, Turku School of Economics, University of Jyväskylä, and the University of Tampere. All in all, Finland is an interesting case of relatively high adoption of CSR with best practices of CSR initiatives implemented by companies such as Nokia and Kesko.


Based on extracts from the chapter on Finland by Arno Kourula, Project Manager at Aalto University School of Economics, in The World Guide to CSR (Greenleaf, 2010).

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business

By Wayne Visser

I wanted to share details of a new article of mine, "The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business", just published in the Journal of Business Systems, Governance and Ethics. It distils the essence of my forthcoming book of the same title (out on 18 February 2011) and is downloadable as a Pdf below.


This paper argues that CSR, as a business, governance and ethics system, has failed. This assumes that success or failure is measured in terms of the net impact (positive or negative) of business on society and the environment. The paper contends that a different kind of CSR is needed if we are to reverse the current direction of many of the world’s most pressing social, environmental and ethical trends. The first part of the paper reviews business’s historical progress over the Ages and Stages of CSR: moving through the Ages of Greed, Philanthropy, Marketing and Management, using defensive, charitable, promotional and strategic CSR approaches respectively. The second part of the paper examines the Three Curses of Modern CSR (incremental, peripheral and uneconomic), before exploring what CSR might look like in an emerging Age of Responsibility. This new CSR – called systemic or radical CSR, or CSR 2.0 – is based on five principles (creativity, scalability, responsiveness, glocality and circularity) and forms the basis for a new DNA model ofresponsible business, built around the four elements of value creation, good governance, societal contribution and environmental integrity.


Visser, W. (2010) The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business, Journal of Business Systems, Governance and Ethics 5(3): 7-22. November, Special Issue on Responsibility for Social and Environmental Issues.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CSR in Malaysia

By Roger Haw Boon Hong

CSR is not a freshly minted idea to Malaysians; the term might be new to some, but not the concept. CSR principles epitomise the fundamental religious and social values that have held together the very fabric of Malaysian society for millennia.

There are some priorities issues have been covered in this context such as community and social welfare aspects, education, environment, workplace practices, culture and heritage. For instance, over 1,000 community and social welfare projects were implemented in 2008, compared to 350 projects in 1998. Studies have shown that the number of students who obtained scholarships for pursuing various levels of education has increased by 300% within the ten year period 1995–2005.

Since 2000, almost 55% of companies in Malaysia have prioritised environmental protection plans in their projects, as compared to only 10–15% in 1980. According to ASRIA’s studies carried out in 2008, 47% of companies in Malaysia are practising good workplace ethics to create a vibrant, healthy environment for their employees. In 1980, only 5% of corporations were willing to support cultural and heritage projects or events, compared to 35% today.

The Ansted Social Responsibility International Award (ASRIA) has helped to raise awareness about the need for business to be legitimate in the eyes of the public. It seems that the number of listed companies reporting environmental information has increased from 30 in 1999 to 138 in 2007. Disclosure of social performance has risen similarly, from 28 companies in 2002 to 43 in 2003. CSR is not only a large company phenomenon. In 2008, 58% of small companies contributed to society ‘in a big way’, as compared to 18% in 1998, a 40% increase within a ten-year period.

A series of prestigious awards such as ASRIA, MESRA, the Prime Minister’s CSR Awards and StarBiz-ICR Malaysia Corporate Responsibility Awards have been recognising companies that have made a difference to the communities in which they operate through their CSR programmes. The percentage of media reporting on CSR has increased from 35% to 45% between 1980 and 2003, and from 45% to 87% between 2004 and 2008.

In the 2007 budget, the government announced that all listed companies are required to disclose CSR activities in their annual financial reports, including their employment composition by race and gender, as well as programmes undertaken to develop domestic vendors. Recognising that the private sector has been successful in implementing CSR projects for the benefit of low-income groups, the government has established a CSR fund, with an initial sum of MYR50 million (USD15 million), to jointly finance selected CSR projects.

Businesses in Malaysia do not operate in a vacuum. They work with multiple suppliers and customers, who in turn have their own sets of suppliers and customers. The listed companies also have to answer to investors. These are parties who can persuade a company to buy into the concept of CSR. Nowadays, the majority of companies in Malaysia have started to put CSR into practice, while many NGOs have been supporting those responsible companies.


This blog is based on the Malaysia chapter in The World Guide to CSR (Greenleaf, 2010) by Roger Haw Boon Hong. Roger is Professor in Corporate Social Responsibility at Ansted University and Founder and Chairman of the Ansted Social Responsibility International Award (ASRIA).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Video: Ellen Weinreb on Trends in the Sustainability Jobs Market

Ellen Weinreb is Founder of Sustainability Jobs. In this interview with Dr Wayne Visser, Director of CSR International, she discusses the sustainability jobs market. The interview took place in San Francisco on 16 September 2010.