When CSR Should Be Risky Business - By Paul Klein

Paul also writes a blog about Corporate Responsibility for Canadian Business online, sits on the Advisory Board for the Centre for CSR at the Queen's School for Business, and has written extensively for publications in Canada and the United States.
Apr 7, 2011 10:54 AM ET
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When CSR Should Be Risky Business

Aligning business purpose and social purpose is a cornerstone for better CSR. Examples of this include pharmaceutical companies investing in health care organizations that align with their therapeutic products, financial institutions supporting financial literacy, and electrical utilities providing free electricity to low income people.

This isn’t rocket science – it just makes good business sense and feels like the right thing to do. Aligned programs that are integrated at an operational level and well communicated internally and externally are usually very effective. (In the work we do at Impakt, this is almost always the starting point for designing and improving social purpose programs.)

CSR, however, is starting to feel ubiquitous. Even thoughtfully planned and well executed programs aren’t always delivering adequate business and social returns. In this context, sometimes it’s worth considering what it would take for your company to make a profound difference to a social issue that really matters – regardless of its alignment with who your company is and what it does. Is this the right approach for you? Here are five questions that will help assess your risk-tolerance to non-aligned CSR. 

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