Friday, October 15, 2010

Key challenges for CSR in Asia

In the last couple of days, I have shared some points on "What is driving CSR in Asia" and "Types of favourite CSR activities in Asia" on this blog. These are the points that I made during my speech including a the panel discussion at the International Singapore Compact CSR Conference 2010 held in Singapore on 6-7 October.

As promised, today I am sharing a few thoughts on the real and potential challenges that face corporate responsibility in Asia. Here they are:

Key challenges

  • Absence of strong and mature stakeholders means companies are under no pressure or scrutiny to do the right thing.
  • In fact, green-washing is going to be one of the biggest problems in the coming months as more and more companies start writing annual sustainability reports to meet government guidelines.
  • In the absence of a robust stakeholder community, green-washers will more likely have a free run.
  • Green-washing is also going to be a big problem for those companies which are genuinely doing good work. Their work will be undermined by the Green-washers.
  • Capability is going to be a major challenge. Companies will need to hire competent sustainability experts if they are to drive a genuine sustainability programme. And such talent is in short supply.

Lack of pressure from activists is actually an opportunity for businesses here. They can formulate a well thought out sustainability plan.
Most western companies did not have the luxury of planning out a well rounded sustainability programme. For most of them, it was a knee jerk reaction. When they were hit by a crisis, they reacted by taking one small step necessary to address the crisis. So every new criticism brought a new action. Only now some of them have started to take a more holistic approach toward sustainability.

Tomorrow, will be writing about the recent developments in Asia that will potentially influence of course of CSR in the region.

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