Surprising or Not Really Surprising Remark

A few weeks ago, I have been asked by Dragos Dehelean to chair one of the sessions of his conference on Corporate Social Responsibility, i.e., European CSR Lessons. Today, I met someone that participated in that event and she was a little confused by my remarks about CSR during a training on Ethics & Compliance. She was confused because she thought I was in favor of Social Responsibility, but now she was faced with a different approach where CSR was an undesirable perspective.

Probably, the examples I have used to illustrate the failure of CSR during my training and my enthusiasm about Elaine Cohen presentation of Comme-il-faut at CSR Lessons were perceived as totally opposed. But in reality, there is no inconsistency in my behavior, in my training, in my public and private discourse. Why?! For the simple fact that I do not believe Elaine Cohen’s presentation illustrates an example of “CSR”, but an example of how to build a creative and ethical business. In fact, on the website of Comme-il-faut, they talk about gender equality, discrimination and ethical business behavior. The confusions that persist in the business and consultancy sector over the relation between ethics in business and social responsibility in business are making us, in most cases, disregard the ethical aspects and focus on public relations and business communication.

So, it is not really surprising I was so open to talk about CSR at CSR Lessons. I think it was a sign of respect not to whistle in dead man’s home, as Professor Dumitru Bortun said about my contribution to a different conference, an academic one where arguments, pro and con, were the main focus. It doesn’t mean I have changed or I will change my mind about CSR. The reality compels us to consider and accept the failure of CSR. But probably we will never manage to get rid of this concept because there are a lot of consultants doing lobby on this particular subject.

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