Why has CSR shifted towards sustainability? 为什么企业社会责任转向可持续发展？
We’ve seen the words “CSR” and “sustainability” thrown around a lot lately. Companies emphasize them on their passionate social media posts. Journalists sprinkle them in their business reports, a cherry on the top for wrapping up the headlines about social and environmental issues.
最近，我们经常看到“ CSR”和“可持续性”这两个词。 一些公司热情洋溢地在社交媒体帖子上反复强调这两个关键词。 记者们也用此撒满商业报告，就如在有关社会和环境问题的头条新闻的大蛋糕上点缀樱桃。
But what exactly are these two things?
And are they actually related to each other?
As the concepts become more frequently used, the actual meanings of the words may have become diluted. Today, we’ll quickly reintroduce to you what CSR and sustainability mean for us, how these terms will continue to evolve in the future, and where India comes into play.
Corporate + Social + Responsibility = ?
CSR, in some form or another, has been around for quite a while but has only recently emerged in the forefront of popular business practices. CSR in general refers to a company’s commitment to being a good steward to stakeholders that are involved in its business practices, socially and environmentally. Because CSR is a more of an umbrella term, each company interprets CSR differently, depending on its industry, size, and legal obligations. Some firms are reluctant to engage in CSR because they feel that CSR practices deviate from their legal requirements as for-profit companies. Others have chosen to incorporate various aspects of social and environmental commitments into their business goals.
CSR（企业社会责任）以某种形式存在了一段时间，但直到最近才出现在流行的商业实践的前沿。 CSR通常是指公司致力于成为社会和环境业务实践的参与者。因为CSR只是一个笼统的术语，所以每个公司根据行业、规模和法律义务对CSR的解释都不同。一些公司不愿参与企业社会责任，因为他们认为企业社会责任实践偏离了其作为营利性公司的法律要求。 其他人则选择将社会和环境承诺的各个方面纳入业务目标。
Unilever has been revamping its plastic packaging, aiming to halve its environmental impact by 2030. Coca-Cola has announced this year its commitment to the “Every Bottle Back” initiative, teaming up with the American Beverage Association to manage plastic production and collection. Companies can build a more positive reputation when consumers see that they contribute to the community or ensure their supply chains are transparent. Environmentally-sensitive businesses use CSR strategies to give back to natural areas where they obtain their raw materials used in production. Or some companies just feel morally obligated and want to be better stewards of their communities. Whatever the firm’s reasons are, CSR is becoming increasingly important due to demands from consumers and interest groups for better business practices.
So where does sustainability come in?
CSR + Sustainability = ?
While CSR is connected to a corporate’s actions, sustainability is a term used more to address the process of ensuring systems are maintained over time. The systems here fall under the categories of environmental, social and economic. On the business level, sustainability can be taken as the responsibility of impact the organization has on its surroundings, listing lower costs, managed risks and better external relations as positive byproducts. It’s also being aware of the realities that the business is positioned in, including environmental threats e.g. depleting fish affect seafood offerings in Walmart’s stores, and labor shortages due to limited education opportunities in the local community. Maintaining relations among various stakeholders is also key as companies that can build strong networks possess a competitive edge over others. Basically, sustainability looks towards long term, and how the company can develop itself to stay relevant and thrive in the future.
虽然CSR与公司的行动息息相关，但是可持续性是一个术语，更多地用于解决确保公司系统随着时间的推移而得以维护的过程。这里的系统属于环境、社会和经济类别。 在业务层面，可持续性可以被视为组织对其周围环境产生影响的责任，将较低的成本，可管理的风险和更好的外部关系列为积极的副产品。它还包括企业所处的挑战以及对环境的威胁，例如鱼的枯竭影响了沃尔玛商店中的海鲜产品，并且由于当地社区受教育的机会有限而导致劳动力短缺。 保持各种利益相关者之间的关系也是关键的，因为可以建立强大网络的公司具有与他人相比的竞争优势。总之，可持续性着眼于长期发展，以及公司如何发展自身以保持相关性并在未来蓬勃发展。
A point that has been made is, do CSR and sustainability even go together? Should they be considered as separate terms, or does one fall under the other’s category? But no matter which direction the debate shifts to, the underlying assumptions are what is most important. Companies and individuals alike should consider how they can become more responsible for the sustainability of our society and environment, safeguarding for future generations.
CSR tends to be associated with big companies like huge global brands. But what about sustainability? India’s new regulation may be a new way of connecting CSR to sustainability.
CSR往往与大型公司（例如全球知名品牌）相关。 但是可持续性呢？ 印度的新法规可能是将企业社会责任与可持续发展联系起来的新方法。
Clean energy, alternative meat, and eco-friendly architecture have been some of the recent ideas of sustainability-related startups. Entrepreneurs are marrying innovative technology with a purpose to produce better and more effective solutions for social or environmental challenges. And such startups seem to be benefiting from big companies’ CSR goals. In 2013, India passed the Companies Act, which required certain companies, depending on size, to spend 2% of their net average profits towards CSR activities. Combating various diseases and promotion of education have been top causes that the CSR spending has gone to.
In 2014, a small guideline was clarified, technology incubators are also eligible to receive CSR funds. In India, technology incubators are a subset of startup incubators, usually attached to an academic institution or business school. These incubators are designed to capitalize on the knowledge and industry insights the academic institutions possess and help the startups in the incubator reach their full potential in developing into working enterprises. Several foreign companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Pfizer have then all engaged in giving funds to related incubators and accelerators in India like “empoWer”, a tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs. As technology incubators, many of the startups are focused on promoting sustainable development goals through science, engineering and medicine. As more CSR funds can be directed into these types of incubators, more impact-driven startups may have an opportunity to grow and succeed.
Although there is controversy behind the incentives for including CSR into regulations, CSR expenditure in India has undoubtedly increased, even if some companies have shirked on the requirement. Whether it can be directed into the most effective programs and causes for India, that will be up to combined public and private efforts. In India’s case, CSR has become intertwined with sustainability, with CSR actions propelling the efforts in achieving sustainability and can give forth to more CSR engagement, if these startups also initiate their own CSR strategies. While we see big companies launching their own incubators or investment strategies in startups, we don’t usually view those actions as CSR. It will be interesting to see if CSR can become the driver of a new generation of startups, not just in India but also globally.
尽管将企业社会责任纳入法规的动机背后存在争议，还有些公司不愿接纳这一要求，但印度的企业社会责任支出无疑增加了。 是否可以将其引导到印度最有效的计划和事业中，这将取决于公共和私人的共同努力。 以印度为例，企业社会责任已经与可持续发展息息相关，企业社会责任行动推动了实现可持续发展的努力，并且如果这些初创企业也启动了自己的企业社会责任战略，那么企业社会责任也可以参与其中。 虽然我们看到大公司在初创企业中启动了自己的孵化器或投资策略，但我们通常并不将这些行为视为企业社会责任。 CSR是否可以成为新一代创业公司的推动力，不仅在印度，而且在全球。而这一点很有意思。
For China, CSR remains a vague, new concept, driven by the government and foreign pressures. As Chinese companies look to enter into more international markets, they are faced with expectations from their international peers of achieving an acceptable level of CSR engagement. In 2006, Chinese corporate law was revised to include the concept of CSR. Various state-owned enterprises and companies are now expected to submit CSR reports, demonstrating their CSR efforts and corporate transparency. Although this formally recognizes the term CSR in China, the definition and practices themselves are heavily influenced by the government. Some companies looking to begin engaging in philanthropy or partnerships with charities tend to gravitate towards only the ones that are state-approved. On the other hand, there are still certain Chinese companies that retain the viewpoint of giving funding as equivalent to investing. Moving forward, the development of regulatory environment, consumer awareness and expertise will become key factors that will determine the understanding of the CSR concept in China.
= Zer’0 Waste?
At Zer’0 Waste Shanghai, we want to help promote a more sustainable lifestyle for individuals and companies in the community. We see this example in India of CSR funding in sustainability-related matters as a positive movement of companies becoming more aware of their responsibilities and attempting to channel their support in more impactful ways. As we work to reach a goal of zero waste, we hope to partner with more CSR efforts and view this as a step towards ensuring sustainability of the community and the planet.
在Zer’0 Waste Shanghai，我们希望为社区中的个人和公司提供更可持续的生活方式。 我们将印度在可持续发展相关问题上的企业社会责任资金作为一个例子，让公司积极地意识到自己的责任，并试图以更具影响力的方式提供支持。 当我们努力实现零浪费的目标时，我们希望与更多的企业社会责任合作，并将其视为确保社区和地球可持续发展的一步。
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