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Corporate Survival Responsibility, the new CSR.

Updated: Jul 20, 2018

This is nothing new, the ripple effects of human activities on the Planet, ecosystems and wildlife are critical and alarming. Natural resources, climate, quality of life and longevity are seriously threatened. To reverse the trend or slow down the process, taking responsibility and raising consciousness of masses is crucial.

Resulting from a high food and energy demand, the global wildlife populations have declined by 58 % over the last decades (WWF). Consequently, we are currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction of wildlife which threatens global food supplies and populations survival (Biodiversity International).

We’ve come full circle!

How can we keep on considering sustainability policies as “volunteer” and/or “optional” in developed countries?

Here is what has been happening basically:

Growing populations, needs, businesses and fast developments have led to the abuse of the Environment itself and the lack of (sustainable) consideration of resources, leading humans to a big challenge : how to maintain this life standard for next generations?

What we didn’t realize before is that neglecting the Environment means jeopardizing future human conditions. We all make mistakes...

Now we know, humanity and environment evolutions are inter-dependent but still, seems like sustainability is being replaced by survival, isn't it?

Taking responsibility is inevitably becoming a Universal matter of Human survival.

Governments decisions and law enforcements in favor of environmental protection are insufficient. Addressing global changes requires immediate actions from other actors.

Corporations have a big influence in their daily activities: business strategies, management policies, logistics & production processes. But corporations are also made of people. In developed countries, most people are interacting with corporations: for work, product and services consumption, community activities, leisures or entertainment …

We believe that corporations and their stakeholders reunited have a power that have not yet been fully explored and exploited. A corporation-to-people influence that could become corporation/people-to-environment.

What about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

CSR is an organizational policy aligned with a business model, aiming at achieving internal and/or external goals related to economics, ethics and environment. CSR and sustainability are inherently connected and dependent. The Environment is a major part of a CSR policy, but still neglected and under assessed. Though CSR is considered as an option and a volunteer decision, building sustainable business models is becoming crucial to solve problems. Despite existing guideline standards (provided for instance by the UN or ISO - ISO 26000 and ISO 14000) contributing to global sustainable development, a minority of corporations are implementing responsible actions.

Also, doubts are emerging regarding corporation’s purposes and motives in CSR. Greenwashing for instance: reproaching brands to support financial interests through hypocrisy and public distraction with beautiful promises… Taking advantage of somber situations is not new in business, negative outcomes are there to be seen...There is a need from CEOs of any size of businesses to understand the impact of their daily activities on people and resources, and drive trustworthy and effective strategies.

“To survive” means remaining alive after the loss or extinction of someone or something. If we don’t want to be next on the list, let’s do something...

Species extinction and decreasing population is an alarming argument and realistic fact of the planet degradation. The question of sustainability must be raised toward the protection of resources and the Environment since it is necessary to protect our longevity.

Solutions need to be designed to accompany and monitor corporations impact on the Environment and wildlife. Educating and engaging people in a new way of thinking and behave. Those solutions must be clear to understand and accessible to all, at any level of a corporation or a society.

Let’s talk now about Corporate Survival Responsibility.

Tackling current problems that are both environmental & social means targeting the source of the negative effects as discussed previously: the rippled effects of human activities, mostly grown in developed countries and now negatively impacting worldwide.

People awareness about the situation is raising and growing; organizations of any type will need to adapt. If we modify human behaviors in developed countries, there is a possible positive impact on the Environment, that would hopefully result in a positive impact on human longevity too.

This alarming strategy name aims at transforming people’s mindset and daily work decisions, driven by responsible, eco and sustainability-conscious leaders!

Complementary to the historic CSR, the new CSR focuses deeper on environmental and wildlife issues (ocean pollution with plastics, species extinction and abuses, resources degradation and loss such as deforestation, ...). The middle/long-term goal is to protect human existence and generate fruitful interactions and synergies between people and the Environment to preserve LIFE.

Corporate Survival Responsibility long term goals.

7 suggestions on how to start implementing Survival policies:

1. Ideally, a CSR policy should be enforced by Law and Governments, along with a reporting and assessment that would be public and accessible to all.

2. CEOs and leader are main “Leaders of change” and pilots of strategies within their companies. There is a need from decision-makers and influencers to drive their teams toward a more “People Planet Profit” corporate vision (John Elkington, 1994).

Some examples of big companies with successful CSR policies in 2017: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2017/09/13/the-10-companies-with-the-best-csr-reputations-in-2017/#7d19f9a4546b)

3. Bottom-up influence is crucial too. People, consumers and employees are becoming “Ambassadors of change” and their voice must be heard. Remember, people's mindset shape corporations and society, and inspire change.

4. For new businesses and micro-influencers, integrating Corporate Survival Responsibility into their business plan and core activities. Think differently. Millennials seem to be committed to make a change and do valuable things, they are a great source of inspiration.

5. Build trust vs greenwashing. Think Activism and position corporations and their brands in favor of "at least" one cause. Raising voices and capitalize on brand images power to inform, educate and engage people.

6. The emergence of experts and dedicated people to support and help corporations driving and implement their CSR policies.

7. Keeping in mind that sustainability pays off!

Being a sustainable business is not an option anymore. The survival concern is obviously worldwide and remains an unsolved problem to which solutions needs to be created. We need to break new ground, innovate and make the most of each one’s strength!

The good news is that solutions are in our hands and a great dynamic is emerging to face current challenges, it is not too late to switch routine and change!

Léa Candon.