It's Not Just What You Do, It's the Way You Do It! Corporate Social Responsibility Is Something Big Businesses like to Boast about in Their Annual Reports. but as Job Losses Multiply and the Purse Strings Tighten, Karen Dent Finds out Whether CR Is about to Be Relegated to the Back Burner

The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 11, 2009 | Go to article overview

It's Not Just What You Do, It's the Way You Do It! Corporate Social Responsibility Is Something Big Businesses like to Boast about in Their Annual Reports. but as Job Losses Multiply and the Purse Strings Tighten, Karen Dent Finds out Whether CR Is about to Be Relegated to the Back Burner


Byline: Karen Dent

TALK about corporate responsibility (CR) and many businesses automatically think money. But it's not just what you do, it's the way that you do it.

The Government defines CR as "how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates - maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides", specifically voluntary actions that address a company's interests and the interests of society.

Business in the Community (BITC) was set up to inspire the corporate sector to improve its impact on society. It now counts some of Britain's biggest businesses as members. And as redundancies mount and mass job losses appear to be announced on a weekly basis, BITC says the way companies handle the issue is going to have major repercussions when the green shoots of recovery finally start to appear.

Karen Wilkinson-Bell, BITC's North East regional director, said: "How a business behaves during the recession will be critical: a good reputation earned with customers, employees, communities and voluntary sector groups when times are good can be lost if a business loses its focus on its values when the going gets tough.

"Despite the pressures, organisations have choices about the way they respond, and businesses who make changes with care and respect for individuals and communities involved are likely to be better placed when economic conditions improve."

BITC awards companies a 'big tick' for excellence for their CR schemes every year and last year, Northumbrian Water took a top award for its performance. It has a platinum-ranking in the Companies that Count Index and took BITC's North East Impact on Society Award for 2008.

It considers CR to be a vital tool in building trust in the business and ensuring it has a strong reputation among the people it supplies, water and sewerage services too. We are passionate about supporting the communities we serve. We provide their clean water and take their dirty water away, so we have to understand those communities we serve," said Louise Hunter, head of CR at Northumbria Water. …

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It's Not Just What You Do, It's the Way You Do It! Corporate Social Responsibility Is Something Big Businesses like to Boast about in Their Annual Reports. but as Job Losses Multiply and the Purse Strings Tighten, Karen Dent Finds out Whether CR Is about to Be Relegated to the Back Burner
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