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Concept vs. Impact: Is Corporate Responsibility Truly Dead?

A commitment in which companies become “good” rather than less bad, regenerative rather than sustainable is where the future must lie.

Submitted by: Jeffrey Hollender

Posted: Apr 26, 2013 – 11:21 AM EST

Tags: csr, desso, kingfisher, scott bader, innovation, sustainability, reforestation, biodynamic farming, work culture, hr


By Jeffrey Hollender

I think I first asked this question in 2009.

My answer was – not dead but dying – dying because it no longer represented any clearly defined goals, there was a desperate lack of metrics and if you totaled up all the so-called corporate responsibility impacts, we were still headed for disaster. However, CSR in total may have bought us a few more years to avert a most certain disaster.

So why then is CSR dead?

Because a handful of leading edge, innovative companies have raised the bar on what we should expect and what may be possible from corporate responsibility.

Take Kingfisher PLC, Europe’s largest home improvement retail group and the third largest in the world, with 1,000 stores in eight countries across Europe and Asia, and sales of nearly £11 billion. Their new approach to doing business: Net Positive. To succeed, they say, business must do more than minimize its negative impact – it must be designed to have a positive impact on the world.

Net Positive at Kingfisher

For Kingfisher, Net Positive means, “not just preventing deforestation, but working towards net Kingfisher net Positivereforestation. It means helping create homes that go beyond zero carbon to become generators of their own energy. It means innovating new business models, products and services that are net positive by design. It means working in communities to equip people with the fundamental practical skills of making and mending. In each of these four priority areas, and across the business, we will transform the way we operate to become Net Positive by 2050.”

So not only does Kingfisher have a goal of using 100 percent sustainably harvested timber by 2020, but they are hoping to overhaul their structure of production from the ground up, through community engagement, and equipping laborers with the right skills to do so.

This commitment in, which companies become “good” rather than less bad, regenerative rather than sustainable is where the future must lie.

Who else is on this track?

Biodynamic Farming & Democracy in the Workplace

Although Patagonia and Unilever are the ones that have received the most attention, Desso carpets Dessohas committed that it “will not be less bad, but truly good.” The Dr. Hauschka Skin Care line has been at this since 1967. Their products are made using biodynamic farming, a highly effective method of production that cultivates and restores the earth. The business is also cooperatively owned and operated.

A British manufacturing company called Scott Bader Commonwealth is also on the right track. Ernst Bader, the founder, actually gifted the company to his employees, helping to create a work culture of work entrustment, democratic involvement, inherent dedication and honesty.

Who did I miss – let me know whom you’d like to nominate for the next Net Positive Company by using the comment section below.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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