20 Aug 2006 “Club CSR” – A Corporate ‘Get-Out-of-Jail Free’ Card?
Tom Borelli says participation in “Corporate Social Responsibility” initiatives is often a sign that a company is having difficulty making money or, possibly, meeting its legal responsibilities:
[Corporate Social Responsibility] is an insurance policy for image-sensitive CEOs.By paying an ideological and financial cover charge to social and environmental causes, CEOs gain admittance to Club CSR and enjoy a host of membership privileges. One major club benefit is protection from advocacy actions such as protests and boycotts wielded by anti-business activists.
Membership requires the creation of a public relations campaign or business strategy that serves the CSR agenda. By feeding into politically correct themes, these campaigns frequently distract the media and shareholders from failed business practices and poor stock performance. Being viewed as socially responsible buys great latitude for struggling CEOs. No longer considered selfish capitalists, these CEOs can finally gain access to elite social circles…
…the giant energy company BP has enjoyed a free ride from activist attacks because of the company’s aggressive advertising campaign promoting global warming concerns, carbon footprints and alternative energy.
Meanwhile, BP’s record includes a deadly explosion at one of its refineries and a major oil pipeline leak in Alaska. Because of these incidents, the company is under investigation by an alphabet soup of federal and state agencies – EPA, OSHA, and DOJ – for possible law violations. More recently, the company has been accused of illegally controlling propane prices, which drove up cooking and heating costs for consumers – many of them poor.
Even though the company is responsible for the tragic loss of life, polluting the environment and potentially ripping off poor consumers, there is a deafening silence of criticism from social and environmental activists.
Instead, BP is heralded as an environmental leader…
Another global warming disciple is GE…
…GE is now partnered with …an environmental activist non-profit – in seeking national regulations to address global warming. By joining the global warming cult, GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt is enjoying the benefits of a capitalism convert – favorable media coverge for the company’s green strategy and protection from critical reporting on GE’s profitability.
Media scrunity of GE’s business would expose the fact that its share price has been flatlined ever since Immelt took the helm…
…CSR gives CEOs immunity from criticism, allowing them to enjoy a peaceful and highly prosperous tenure. Until it’s recognized that company support for CSR initiatives is often a sign of a troubled business, CEOs will be eager participants. In the meantime, shareholders and consumers will be left paying the price.
On August 14, the New York Times published an op-ed by John Kenney, a member of the advertising team that created of British Petroleum’s “Beyond Petroleum” advertising campaign (TimesSelect subscribers can read it on the Times website; Truthout has a copy online here). Read it for an insight into how “corporate social responsibility” really works.Addendum: Some thoughtful mail:
You are rubbish and your man Borelli is worse-Move on to Iran -you might fit right in-Jon Barrows