There is almost zero awareness of what CSR really means among Czech businesses. Local PR agencies and associations are not helping much, actually quite the contrary. They support the notion that social responsibility is a one-off charity event, ideally when a company does something wrong and needs to turn attention away from it.
We fight this reality daily. No, CSR is not philanthropy, and no, CSR is not greenwashing or an empty promise. CSR delivers a complex management strategy that shows not only how to become more profitable, but also how to take into account the internal and external business environment. Furthermore, it is relevant for a company of any size and field and a lot of them are already fulfilling it in some way without even noticing.
We are business people and know it is essential that businesses be profitable, with that profitability being their first responsibility. But profits should not override all other considerations. Next to looking at “what” services, products and profits a company makes, it should also look at “how” these services, products and profits are done.
In summary: Firstly, CSR is not just about philanthropy or charity. Such activities help to establish good relationships with the community, but they are only superficial manifestations of CSR and can have a negative impact. Secondly, CSR is not an empty promise or an effective ‘greenwashing’ tool (making misleading or false claims about business practices and policies in order to appear eco-friendly). Sadly, there are quite a few companies and agencies using CSR in this way.
Other vague concepts among Czech businesses are sustainable development, sustainability, and responsible business. It certainly isn’t about a boss being a hippie and making all employees flush the toilet maximum once. These terms are, in fact, connected to CSR, but they express the long-term business focus. Sustainability signifies overall business responsibility for impacts of its activities on society and its focus on the triple bottom line: apart from the economic performance, social and environmental factors are also taken into account.
There are countless studies, for example the latest by Goldman Sachs, that demonstrate sustainable businesses show better financial results, much higher business growth rates, employee growth rates, better reputation and greater success on world markets.
Do not be confused by local CSR experts, who advise you to solve your CSR with one employee volunteering day or a charity concert. Look at the international trends, the importance of sustainability for the future and its business advantages for a company and let us finally follow this direction!