Monday, October 31, 2005

Jobs for the boys

I'm not a big tabloid fan. When they try to play with real news I believe their self-serving agenda does way more harm than good to society.

If they just stuck to celebrity issues it would be fine. A blond soap star 'forgets' her knickers as she exits a car bum first and gets 'outraged' by the consequences being splashed across the front page (well, suitably bepixelled... fiull story inside). A whole industry has in short order been created to serve the careers of talentless singers, actors and... er... people (silicon balloon transporters, etc), and the broadcast and print media who get paid to exist in their expensive worlds and 'report' upon them. And they all work together to keep themselves in business. No harm done, apart from the odd  bit of fodder that falls off the rails and finds this is one industry whose health plan only kicks in if they get the exclusive on the Priory stay.

Which leads me to CSR, about which I was reading just now. It was a an opinion piece in the Telegraph Online by the/a Director of Policy Studies. So it was I suppose not too surprising that she was less than positive on the burden a bunch of of moral duties were being dumped on businesses by a range of folks, from the press through interest groups right on (up?) to Government.

And her main point was a good one. In many cases, why on earth should they? More precisely, why should their shareholders be obliged to pay for all this?

My views on the motivations and hence effectiveness of most not-for-profit and in many cases charities are already outlined in my blogs, so I have a certain sympathy for anyone who is striving to make a profit.  And to quote part of her conclusion: 'business's most socially responsible act is to continue making [this contribution - goods & services, jobs, taxes, etc] by being profitable and successful. The irony of much of the corporate responsibility agenda is that it can undermine business's vital contribution to society by imposing costs and burdens for frequently ill-defined social and moral objectives.'

With which it is hard not agree, though in some cases what goods are being made is one that I may wish to keep an eye on. I'll also plug here by saying we have a pretty neat model that enables one to do good AND turn an extra profit if done in the right way.

But you know what really stuck me? It was in the Google Adwords column on the left of this piece. 

All manner of folks advertising CSR consultancies, conferences or jobs in CSR.  I just have to wonder how many of these guys will ever actually do anything to make a real difference. We've approached more than a few to pitch our tale, and never been given the time of day so far. Probably because they are at a CSR conference in Bali, meeting with the very folks from the media, interest groups and government who have managed to create an industry to keep them all in the business of... what? I which way they exit taxis?