Judith Tavanyar looks at the reasons why organisations embark upon CSR programmes and at how they can make them meaningful.

Leading an in-house management training programme recently, I overheard a brief conversation between two participants about the state of their organisation’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. “They’ve given it such high profile, but no one except the Board really knows why they’re doing it,” said one. “Yes — and talk about a token gesture,” said the other. “If only they practised those values in the actual organisation, we’d all be benefitting.” Dry laughter followed.

Comments like these, although dispiriting, may not be uncommon — even at a time of global economic upheaval, when more and more organisations feel the need, often for highly laudable reasons, to think about corporate responsibility objectives.

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