Doing Good Well
What does (and does not) make sense in the nonprofit world

Chapter 8: Corporate Social Responsibility

Is the Business of Business just Business?

For many organizations, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a binary question of “to give or not to give.” Supporters often cite it as good business. However, that plays to the argument of critics that the business of business is business. In this context, CSR is, in reality, enlightened self-interest rather than corporate altruism.

The correct argument for CSR really is the responsibility of power. Corporations have to recognize their impact and their role in the communities they operate. Until that happens, legislative controls, which have already taken place in the areas of environmental controls, ethical conduct and governance may be necessary. But it is hard to tame the corporate beast, and the long term answer may lie in changing its constitution.