There has been some discussion in CSR circles for a while now advocating for the removal of the "S" from CSR. Yes, the "S"! Just last week the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs in Australia, for its own purposes, decided this to be so, arguing that Corporate Responsibility already includes all that is social.
I am always suspicious when something familiar disappears, but I will save that for another post. It will have something to do with child labour and its perceived disappearance when product labelling was introduced.
Let me also acknowledge the equally large camp of proponents advocating to drop the "C" from CSR. The "C", after all, represents the word 'corporate' and implies that CSR is something only corporations do/can do. For this reason, the "C" can act as a barrier to formal participation of small and medium sized businesses in subscribing to the tenets of social responsibility. In other words, it can sometimes be used as an excuse to do nothing.
The "C" can also be a psychological barrier for consumers and their engagement because of the perception that corporations are overly complex and inaccessible. For the socially responsible organization, the opportunity cost of this perception means a loss in meaningful consumer engagement. Conversely, it can also discount the consumer's expectation of socially responsible behaviour from small and medium sized businesses.
Do I believe that we would be better off if CSR became BSR? Yes! BSR grabs my attention! It expands the scope of participation by being inclusive of businesses of all sizes, and psychologically, it implies greater opportunity for engagement. Additionally, it affects my perception of access and satisfies my curiosity to explore more deeply an organization's values and the social consequences of its decisions and its practices. These are the products of value to the growing population of socially responsible citizen consumers, the conscious consumers.
Transparency will fuel trust.
Is the field of opinion evenly divided? Let me know your thoughts.
Photo credit: Cassidy Curtis, Other Things, July 2006 via Flickr