a space to share thoughts and ideas and to stimulate discussion around the space where business meets society. And to think collectively and creatively about how to create and preserve value at the meeting/collision point where business meets society.
Why hide self-interest? Do you really
think you are fooling anyone?
week I was doing some work on corporate social responsibility and stakeholder
communications. As I reviewed various
communications I was amazed at how often companies either hid, disguised or
ignored their self-interest.
case after case stakeholder and CSR projects were presented as solely in the
interests of the stakeholders and ‘recipients’.
The company’s interest was never mentioned and often the language
suggested that the company’s sole motivation was to make the world a better
me a break! Does anyone believe that?
inside these companies actually thinks that the people who watch their videos
or read their materials are going to really believe that it is all about the
‘recipients’ and the company doesn’t have any self-interest?
case I looked at was a great supply chain development project. It created a lot
of value for local producers in rural Africa and supported rural infrastructure
development. A true winner of a project.
the same time it reduced the companies need for expensive imported raw
materials, reduced their foreign exchange exposure and created a valuable
marketing opportunity for a new product.
the company didn’t overtly position itself as an altruistic angel, not once did
they acknowledge the value the company realized from the project.
self-interest is not only futile, it often negates much of the goodwill that
can be created by the project in the first place.
begin with, not acknowledging self-interest or, worse, hiding behind
‘do-gooderism’ isn’t credible, seems deceptive, and raises questions about what
else the company might be trying to hide.
For any company that values open, honest communications it is a huge
it presents what could well be a strong, mutually beneficial project in a
donor-recipient framework. This not only
creates the perception of inequality, it effectively diminishes both parties.
be honest. There is value in it for the
company or else why would they do it? No
company that I know of, or that plans to exist for long, is in the business of
spending shareholder’s money without an expectation of value coming back to
them. Why would they?
is far better to openly acknowledge self-interest AND the interest of
stakeholders and/or society. Be clear
that the project meets needs of the company AND of stakeholders, that by
collaborating each is getting something they want.
puts partners on a more equal footing, is seen as infinitely more credible by
all concerned and ultimately makes the project more sustainable and the company
most importantly, helps the company build trust and stronger relationships.
any of this apply to your CSR and stakeholder communications? Maybe you want to check and find out? I’ve checked a few.