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Report places CSR as the key to future growth

Accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) have published a document, 'Corporate Responsibility: Strategy, Management and Value,' which places corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the centre of its vision for business in the coming ten years. The report ties in with the rec...

Accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) have published a document, 'Corporate Responsibility: Strategy, Management and Value,' which places corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the centre of its vision for business in the coming ten years. The report ties in with the recent 'European Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility', backed by the EU Commission and published in March, which aims to boost CSR in European businesses. The PWC report looks ahead to the next ten years, concluding that: 'Twenty years ago, environmentalists and social issues were for activists. Ten years from now, they are likely to be amongst the most critical factors shaping government policy and corporate strategy [...] Twenty years ago, our rate of growth seemed infinite. Ten years from now, it will be influenced by environmental factors beyond our control.' The report examines the combined influence of diminishing resources, rising populations, especially in developing countries, widening gaps between rich and poor, the devastating impact of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and the growing impact on the environment as problems increase significantly over the coming years. Essentially, the report acknowledges that these issues will become ever more visible, and that companies that take no action to mitigate these factors cannot survive. The report outlines six global trends that will effectively force businesses to behave with a social conscience: - Market forces will influence government policy. As resources shrink, and prices increase, governments will react; - Current financial models will become obsolete, as new risks and non-financial issues are factored in; - Innovation will increase exponentially in every sector of modern life, influencing how people live day-to-day; - Globalisation will diminish the role of the state; - Sustainable development will become an increasingly important target, although moves towards it will be in small steps rather than large leaps; - Global media will accelerate the reaction times of both governments and businesses to specific issues. The report also points out that these changes will not happen in isolation but are connected, and that good CSR will enable businesses to operate comfortably. The report acknowledges that the EU plays a key role in shaping the future of the European economy, and that it is a driver of specific developments in areas such as environmental impact. However, PWC sees that in the future, organisations within the EU will have to adapt working arrangements to cover a wider spectrum of risk, deliver cost-effective compliance to changes, anticipate regulatory changes and drive innovation to address environmental and societal changes. The launch of the European Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility in March pushed CSR and sustainable development up the European agenda. The scheme aims to increase the uptake of CSR within EU-based enterprises. This will be done by making those enterprises the primary actors in CSR, and ensuring that non-business stakeholders are involved. Ways in which CSR can be put into action, and assessing the impact thereof are active areas for research under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The RESPONSE project is examining what companies believe constitutes CSR, and how expectations of companies differ from societal needs. CSR PLATFORM allows European CSR-related research to be aligned, integrated and widely disseminated, by setting down a framework for coherent research topics in CSR, involving non-business groups in the opening up of communication channels and developing a set of tools for disseminating the latest in CSR research. The RARE project examines how CSR can be boosted and how it can contribute to sustainable development. It will also make recommendations as to in which areas CSR will be effective.