Moving forward towards a sustainable world means a holistic approach in which the private sector gets a commitment that goes beyond CSR.
Is it not a matter of social responsibility but to a full involvement in which each operation is measured at the light of the new challenges and limitations that the planet is threatening. Even if there is a crucial role in relation to environmental issues for the relentless impact of climate change, there is a more important mission rather than being “profitable responsible”. A sustainable system demands responsibility at personal managerial level but 100% institutional commitment with present and future society. Which includes more than just respect to law but resignation to profits if it’s not compatible with a goal on sustainability.
Businesses based on CSR do not need to sacrifice profits if in the short term there is respect to the law national framework. For instance, if a company is legally allowed to cut down trees in the Amazonia in a certain area that does not undermine indigenous habitat or/and supposes a real threat for the wildlife, even if there is an ongoing process of deforestation that badly impact the region in the near future it´ll not be considered “irresponsible” but definitely is an “unsustainable activity”.
We are still moving through CSR rules in which a good green marketing fix all troubles on image, however without addressing real sustainable challenges. Definitely a good way to settle “complains” but not to become an active pillar for a sustainable development. Indeed, the business world has too much power to be just “social responsible” but an active member of a “sustainable community” of institutions towards a common goal.
The center of interest is not the companies anymore but the society in itself, in which institutions and people act together without contradictory interests.
Profits are not at the service of business but of the society as an imperative to become resilient to changes. That is the reason why CSR is an old-fashioned way of doing business that although is resisting to adapt is moving forward to a new international framework.
Panama papers and multiple corruption cases (Lehman Brothers, Spain, etc.) show the need to introduce business ethics as another part of regulation and control. Not just a matter of good intentions recollected in a internal Code of Ethics, but regulation that assures that Ethics are fulfilled, particularly for the global impact that most of the companies currently hold. Globalization continues to be a challenge that has not achieved its more important potential, which is to spread Ethical rules worldwide. Instead, national systems are preventing the world to move forward avoiding the establishment of global ethical rules and a more commitment from the business sector. A no smart way of getting profits without seeing the real perspective that under sustainable standards there are also an opportunity for profitable businesses.
CSR created the idea of the business sector at the center of the stage, not individuals, not public sector, is it so that the swift towards a different center of attention is a must to move forward.
Training and innovation become the real center of action.
CSR is over, even if there are not will for moving forward from some parts of the business world. There is an imperative of being aware of the need to change and fully apply sustainable codes in the framework of SDG´s. Sustainability is a much more complex challenge than being responsible but to be part of a higher system in which globalization is reshaped and adapted accordingly.
In the end, regulation –national and international- is the absolute clue for forcing the business sector beyond profits and going further than just raise awareness of the need of sustainable goals. Is it proven that in the medium term the transformation of this sector according to sustainable goals would lead to profits. In the meantime, information and regulation must play an active role in its development. Unfortunately we are still trapped in CSR rules but not just because of a lack of awareness or information but of lack of will and rules that could impose an effective global model of doing business on a sustainable basis. Even if it is difficult to match profits with a full commitment with a sustainable system is it not impossible, just a matter of innovation and a boost of “ethics euphoria”!
The world is still trapped in a “business axis” without seeing the light that supposes sustainable goals with an unique focus in which companies are just part of a higher project.
*Sculpture. Vera Van Wolferen