CSR Matters

Who cares about Corporate Social Responsibility when the economy is in a freefall? The answer is simple ... any company with the insight for long-term sustainability in a volatile marketplace. Those that want to emerge on the other side of this recession with a real chance at growth and profits.
AirPlus International and Content Solutions are teaming up to bring you answers to the most pressing questions in the corporate travel world today. We are asking you, our colleagues, to participate in a bi-monthly one-minute survey to gauge the mindset of the industry today. The results will be published monthly in The Wire ... from AirPlus. Stay tuned as I'll also publish the results on my blog here! The first survey will pose questions on two hot topics: The economic climate and its influence on corporate travel now, and the relevancy of CSR.

Smart companies make CSR part of their core business strategy. Why? Because CSR is not a fad, a marketing gimmick, or a window dressing that companies pretend to support to gain customers or answer RFPs. CSR is an attitude and a business culture that makes the growth of business volumes and profits equal to the improvement of the people and communities its business impacts. It's simply more than the minimization of the negative impacts on our planet.

Craig Smith, the professor of ethics and social responsibility at Insead, says in his new book that "The financial crisis and its effects on the global economy make it clear that the stability of our global market system depends on responsible behavior, sustainable business models and proactive management of business impacts on society, as well as regulatory frameworks."

Surveys in the business travel industry seem to say that CSR has taken a back seat due to the economic climate we are now living in. The reality is that there are three types of companies. First are those that fully understand the role that CSR plays in their business and they have continued their efforts. Second are those that fully agree with the importance of CSR and what impact it will have on their business continuity. They are continuing to struggle to make it a priority. And finally, on the other extreme, are those companies that have never understood the importance of CSR, and any "lip service" they paid it was quickly thrown away when the business environment went south. The first two of these three types will thrive when we exit this challenging environment. The last, we’ll see ... the quick reaction might only prolong its suffering due to the inability to understand CSR's real importance.

CSR is not just about being "green" ... a term that's focus is too often distorted. Real CSR incorporates fair treatment of employees, suppliers and customers. It understands the importance of ethics in business and avoids corruption. A true grasp of CSR embraces the importance of charity and support of the communities where we live and work. Conserving energy and recycling are simply smart, but more than that, CSR is a morale booster within a company. Employees who contribute feel a part of something bigger than they could do alone and these attitudes permeate the business culture. Thus, a winning program will fully integrate CSR into the business strategy of a corporation.

While companies deal with the challenges presented by this economic downturn, those that really understand what it means to be a successful business will continue to include CSR in their business plans and strategies. CSR is multifaceted; it's not simply about the warm fuzzies, but about being a profitable and sustainable business.

CSR matters ... not because it is just about being "good" but also because it is good for business.