On a daily basis I collaborate with companies with focus on the business opportunities of corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR), rather than focusing on risk minimization and crisis management.
The paradox of this is, however, that companies who work proactively with CSR are particularly vulnerable to criticism and media scrutiny.
In fact, a recent survey & dissertation showed that more than one out of four Danish companies have been exposed to a crisis in relations to their work with social responsibility and sustainability (CSR) in the last five years. And on a global level there is a similar trend reputational crises on the rise.
Just think of crisis examples like some of these recent:
- Ethical crises (e.g. Nordea & the Panama papers or the Volkswagen emissions scandal)
- Communications crises (e.g. Danske Bank & the New Normal campaign)
- Supply chain crises (e.g. the critical case of Maersk’s shipbreaking practices or Primark, Walmart & more in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse)
- Partnership crises (e.g. Greenpeace versus Lego and Shell).
Three real-life cases
So how can you overcome dilemmas and conflicts between doing good and doing well? How do you avoid being hit by a CSR crisis? And what do you do when the watchdogs bite?
These were some of the issues that we explored at our recent miniconference in our network forum The Social Business Club, where we had invited three practitioners to share their real-life experience:
1 // One of the biggest Danish pension funds, presenting ethical investment dilemmas between blacklisting unethical companies or engaging them through dialogue and active ownership (Pelle Pedersen, Responsible Investment Analyst, PKA)
2 // The multinational IT company, showcasing how they turned a supply chain-related media crisis into a business opportunity (Louise Koch, EMEA Corporate Sustainability Lead, Dell)
3 // The gaming and gambling company, exploring if corporate responsibility in the gaming and gambling industry is good or unethical business (Stine Hove Marsling, Director for Corporate Communications, Branding & CSR, Danske Spil)
Key insights & advice
So what were the main takeaways of this miniconference? For key points and hands-on advice, watch our miniconference summary video + all the video presentations from the miniconference here (start with the Summary video to get free access to video presentations):
Want more insights & inspiration?
- Read our Danish blog post for CSR.dk “Hvad gør du, hvis CSR-krisen kradser” here
- Become a free Club member to share more insights with our 2,000+ members here
- Sign up to the Club newsletter here and The Social Business Company newsletter here
The Social Business Club is an international network forum for professionals from around the world with an interest in innovative and sustainable business practices that create value for society and the bottom line – from CSR and social entrepreneurship to social innovation and shared value. The network is hosted by Tania Ellis, founder of The Social Business Company. More at www.thesocialbusinessclub.com and www.thesocialbusinesscompany.com