Thirty years ago, environmentalists were called “tree huggers” in mainstream circles. Today, most people recycle and intentionally make lifestyle choices that are fundamentally environmentally-friendly. Thirty years ago, there was a clear distinction between capitalism and socialism. Either you were pro-business or anti-business and that was that. The new mantra: it pays to be socially responsible. Today, multinational corporations -- while still in business for profit -- are adopting new corporate social responsibility [CSR] initiatives that are changing the way organizations of all size do business. CSR is not a widely-used term yet. Give it time.
The premise of CSR is that when an organization makes money in a community, they reinvest a portion of profits in that community and/or other global regions in need. That investment can come as a combination of money, employee volunteer time or products, such a pharmaceutical giant Merck which donates a drug to cure river-blindness, a dreadful disease which affects tens of millions of the world's poorest people.
Many Fortune 500 companies have climbed on board, in many cases employing entire departments dedicated to setting and implementing their CSR strategy. It’s a job industry that will grow tremendously in the next decade as Internet retail gives all consumers worldwide a greater choice of where to buy the products they need and want.
London-based Acre is a staffing organization dedicated exclusively to CSR/SRI [social responsibility investment] positions. At http://www.ethicalperformance.com/ visitors can search global listings of CSR and SRI professional services organizations, as well as learn more about events and training associated with this emerging trend.
Just because the media isn’t talking about this every day doesn’t mean it’s not already on the minds of world business leaders. A handful of public companies already entrenched in CSR/SRI initiatives include: Wal-Mart, Target, Levi Strauss, Gap, Timberland, General Electric, Whole Foods, Manpower, Inc., Dupont, Alcoa, IBM, and Hewlett Packard. Few CEOs are as globally generous as Microsoft founder, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda or his good friend Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett. Ted Turner and New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, also make that list. Generosity is “in” and the biggest names in the world -- to varying degrees -- are stepping up to make a difference and in many cases, to let their customers know about the difference they're making through corresponding media campaigns.
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