Business Performance & Corporate Social Responsibility

By Stainer, Alan | Management Services, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Business Performance & Corporate Social Responsibility


Stainer, Alan, Management Services


Conference Report

The International Centre for Business Performance and Corporate Responsibility at Middlesex University Business School, has been established by Professors Michael Hopkins and Alan Stainer. One of the major challenges and the raison d'etre of the Centre is to create awareness as well as provide relevant and meaningful measures and paradigms to aid in corporate social responsibility (CSR) decision-making within the workplace. In order to carry this vital issue forward the Business School held a One-Day Conference entitled `Business Performance and Corporate Social Responsibility'. This was held at the historic venue of the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London, on Thursday 4 April 2002.

The rationale for this Conference was to highlight that there exists a definite link between social and financial performance. This is especially true when looking at the relevance of intangible assets, such as reputation and knowledge networks which can turn into a source of market value and a competitive advantage. Moreover, a point of focus was to portray that CSR should not be perceived simply as an add-on or as purely philanthropic but must be formulated as a corporate strategy in the pursuit of business success.

The Conference was attended by about 80 people from various parts of the world and consisted of a blend of practitioners from both the public and private sectors as well as academics. It was opened by the Rt Hon John Redwood MP, former Cabinet Minister. He stressed the paramount importance of customer relations, and hence satisfaction, in the field of competitive advantage. However, he strongly warned CSR leaders not to ignore the core business financial objectives.

The day included two internationally renown keynote speakers: Sandra Waddock from Boston College, USA, and Robert Rubinstein from Brooklyn Bridge-- Connections to the Future, Holland. The former spoke of the performance implications of the new business imperative, that is corporate responsibility, whilst the latter expanded further on the theme and highlighted triple bottom line investing. Their thoughts converged by emphasising that businesses must inevitably concentrate on sustainable development by continually adding environmental and social values to economic value.

There were three lively panel sessions, stimulating much discussion and debate both for and against, under the broad headings of `Business and CSR, `Organisational Performance and CSR' and `The Development Case: CSR and Performance'. The panel members represented organisations such as BT, Good Corporation, mhc international Ltd, Global Risk Management Services, the European Commission and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. In addition to these sessions, thirteen papers were presented on a wide range of topics revealing their inter-relationship with CSR.

These consisted of

* Labour as a Driver of Enterprise and Economic Success

(ILO,Geneva),

* CSR Green Paper on Competitiveness

(European Commission)

* European Sustainable Business

Framework

(Erasmus University, Rotterdam),

* CSR and Organisational Performance: An Empirical Study of Employee Participation in Two UK SME Sectors

(Middlesex University)

* Value Reporting

(PricewaterhouseCoopers)

* Assessing the Effectiveness of Shareholder Engagement on SRI Issues

(Pensions & Investment Research Consultants)

* The Business Case for CSR Where are We?

(mhc international Ltd)

* A Framework for CSR Management

(KPMG)

* Total Productivity -A Stakeholder Perspective

(Middlesex University and the University of Hertfordshire)

* Employee Volunteering - The Great Dumbing Down

(Response Consulting Ltd)

* Ethical Dimensions of Total Quality Management

(Universiti Degli Studi di Brescia, Middlesex University and University of Hertfordshire)

* Profit from Profit Distribution An Approach to Corporate Charitable Giving

(More Good)

* Is a Safer Enterprise a More Profitable Enterprise? …

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