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Why Corporate Social Responsibility is Good for Business – And How to Distinguish Between True and False CSR

Submitted by: Christine Arena

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Jan 03, 2007 – 06:00 AM EST


THE HIGH-PURPOSE COMPANY: The Truly Responsible (and Highly Profitable) Firms That Are Changing Business Now, by Christine Arena, Award-Winning Author of Cause for Success

"The well-presented evidence buttresses a forceful argument that companies that care about more than making money can still succeed."
Publishers Weekly

In an age where companies such as Enron and Tyco have created a disillusioned public, the concept of corporate responsibility may seem to be an anomaly. In THE HIGH-PURPOSE COMPANY: The Truly Responsible (and Highly Profitable) Firms That Are Changing Business Now (Collins/January 1, 2007/$24.95, hardcover), corporate strategist and researcher Christine Arena shows readers why corporate responsibility is necessary for success in today's business world, and tells how to distinguish between the extraordinary companies driven by purposeful ideals and those companies that merely pretend to be responsible.

Arena defines high purpose as the sum of a company’s values and its daily practices. A high-purpose company does not spend millions telling the public about their values without putting them into action.

To determine what companies are actually practicing corporate responsibility, Arena assembled a team of 10 MBA students from McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management to analyze 75 well-known corporations from major industries that actively promote their commitment to society and the environment. The companies ranged from JetBlue Airways to Wal-Mart to Patagonia.

Arena’s team dug deep. They studied public records, news articles and company-issued reports. They interviewed stakeholders that included not just employees, executives and shareholders but, also, consumers, watchdog groups and industry experts. The results were surprising. They revealed that contributing to the greater good is more than just a marketing tool - it is a market opportunity.

From Tyco’s apology for wrongdoing to the success of IKEA due to the ideals of its founder, Arena takes her readers through the five steps of evolution into a high-purpose company:

  • See the Bigger Picture: A sustainable society and environment are necessary for the success of a company. Plowing through natural resources or not supporting the local community hurts a company’s long-term viability.

  • Face the Truth: Admitting mistakes, rather than lying to the public, builds trust. Research shows that stakeholders are more forgiving to companies that apologize for their actions. It also allows companies to assess what improvements need to be made.

  • Set Intent . . . Then Purpose: Companies must ask themselves what their ideal results are and what strengths they have (and don’t have) that will allow them to achieve their goals.

  • Transcend and Include: When a company reaches this stage it becomes a high-purpose company by having engineered technologies and solutions that meet societal needs.

  • Anchor: At this stage a company’s identity and its higher purpose have become indistinguishable. Without the higher purpose the company would be weakened and may even fall apart.

    THE HIGH-PURPOSE COMPANY illustrates to readers that a corporation does not have to choose between being socially responsible and making a profit. Rather, being a high-purpose company leads to success. “Companies that offer people something that’s vital and substantive are more inclined to prevail,” says Arena. “In this way, corporate responsibility pays.”

    Additional Reviews:

    “Kudos to Christine Arena for daring to challenge sound-bite thinking! She asks important questions and requires the reader to take a fresh look at what it means for companies to be responsible.”
    Sue Mecklenburg, vice president sustainable procurement practices, Starbucks Coffee Company

    “Arena cuts through the hype and de-mystifies what can seem like a very complex field. This book is a must read for CEO’s and future leaders of firms of all sizes.”
    - Linda Dunkel, President & CEO, Interaction Associates

    “Arena strikes a healthy balance by looking at what’s right and wrong with the CSR movement. She manages to inspire without ignoring the challenges ahead.”
    Mats Lederhausen, managing director, McDonald’s Ventures

    “A well-written and engaging book that offers a new perspective on corporate social responsibility. Arena clearly presents her points and methodology, alternating between compelling case studies and tightly defined frameworks.”
    - Liz Maw, Executive Director, Net Impact

    “An important and much-needed book. Arena unlocks the secret at the heart of business, that companies that say “it’s only business” may be abandoning the maximized profit they so monomaniacally seek.”
    Gil Friend, CEO, Natural Logic

    About the Author:

    Christine Arena is a corporate strategist, researcher and the award-winning author of Cause for Success. In the process of studying the corporate responsibility movement, Christine has interviewed hundreds of executives and change-makers in the field. Her books enable readers to easily distinguish between true and false corporate social responsibility (CSR), or winning and losing strategic approaches. Christine is a frequent speaker on the subject of CSR effectiveness to corporate and academic audiences worldwide, serves as a strategic partner to change management consulting firm Interaction Associates, and sits on the advisory panels of green business ventures IdealBite.com and Urban Re:Vision. A masters graduate of New York University, she lives in San Francisco with her husband.

    About the Book:

    Title: THE HIGH-PURPOSE COMPANY: The Truly Responsible (and Highly
    Profitable) Firms That are Changing Business Now

    Author: Christine Arena
    Publication Date: January 1, 2007
    Price: $24.95, hardcover
    Pages: 304
    Indexed ISBN: 0-06-085207-0

    For more information, visit www.high-purpose.com

  • For more information, please contact:

    Laurence Hughes Harper Collins
    Phone: (212) 207-7110


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