Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Summary: session 4 - Consumer Rights and Corporate Responsibility




Robert Michel provides his observations:
This proved to be a fascinating session. While the first speaker, Diana Tsui talked about the drastic fall in the trust in business and thus the resulting growing interest by consumers in companies’ CSR, the next speaker, Jonathon Hanks, an academic from South Africa, questioned the CSR commitment by big companies.

Hanks doubted that consumers still had any trust in business and thus said that consumers are not sufficiently interested in CSR. As CSR is not at the core of a business, CSR cannot sufficiently deliver sustainable development. What was needed he said as a new concept of shared values and despite the mistrust in big companies, they were in fact able to solve problems as long as they understood that their own, long-term values were at risk. The way forward for COs really was not to support green consumerism as it had failed but rather less consumption.

The third speaker, Guido Adriaenssens talked about research projects into companies’ CSR and mentioned that three types of companies can usually be found: the no responders (about 10%), the so-called collaborators, who often have good sounding policies on paper but very little on the ground to show for and the third group, the so-called positive group of companies that engages with the researchers, allows plant visits and even acts on certain research recommendations.

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