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Global Alliance sulla comunicazione della responsabilità sociale

04/08/2004

Come aveva fatto con il protocollo etico mondiale, la Global Alliance ha predisposto un primo position paper sulle relazioni pubbliche e la responsabilità sociale ed ora apre la discussione con i suoi associati e con i membri dei suoi associati per arrivare presto ad una approvazione formale. Ecco il documento e un primo commento di Toni Muzi Falconi

Tutti i visitatori sono invitati a contribuire ad un documento che sicuramente avrà ripercussioni sul futuro delle relazioni pubbliche nel mondo.(scrivere a tonimuzi@tin.it) In fondo, il commento di Toni Muzi Falconi:Global Alliance For Public Relations And Communication Management Position Statement on Corporate Social Responsibility "Corporate Social Responsibility" is one of several global subjects generating great interest and impact for Global Alliance societies and their members. As a service to GA societies, a team of GA CSR experts has developed the following "GA CSR Positioning Statement". We invite comments from all interested parties by 1 August and will post such comments in a permanent appendix to the statement. Thereafter, GA will report CSR developments via website/newsletter and provide additional related services as warranted. Prologue The term "corporate social responsibility" (also described as Business Ethics, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Sustainable Development, Triple-Bottom-Line Management, etc.) – indeed, like "public relations" – means different things to different people in various parts of the world. But one thing seems certain to public relations professionals wherever they practice: The universals at the core of the corporate social responsibility concept have great potential significance for our profession.Here at the outset of the discussion of corporate social responsibility it is important to note that all institutions in society, non-profit as well as "for-profit", have responsibilities to society. Many corporate responsibilities, specifically those inherent in "stakeholder relations", also apply to educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, government agencies, "civil society" groups and other non-profit entities. In short, we all have responsibilities to society. [Too, the corporation, as an institution in society, has always had social responsibilities. Traditionally, these responsibilities to society centered on producing needed or wanted products and services, providing employment, paying taxes and generating returns on investment. In recent decades, however, many new public/stakeholder expectations and demands have been added to the traditional responsibilities.] In this summary examination, The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management offers a brief overview of the CSR aspects that relate to the practice of public relations. Our objective is to assist GA partners as they serve their individual members in understanding, applying, and benefiting from this global trend. In order to facilitate ongoing, two-way communication on CSR, this initial GA effort will be supplemented by related services including a continuously updated page on the GA website. CSR: Definitions and Descriptions In its most expansive interpretation, CSR relates to business in 21st century society – how private enterprise affects, and is affected by, social, economic and environmental issues in many parts of the world. [We acknowledge that there are more limiting, or even disparaging, interpretations of CSR and public relations - i.e. "greenwash", "spin" etc. – but these arguments are not within the scope of this GA position statement.] Obviously, the world's many cultures and social, political, and economic systems have resulted in a great variety of business-in-society interfaces. But whether at the global, regional, national or local levels, the impact of business on society is now undeniably both substantial and growing. What, then, is the corporation's responsibility to the many different groups of people affected by its plans and actions? Addressing this seminal question, many have attempted to articulate the 21st century CSR business model. To illustrate the GA position, we present these recent descriptions:"With the fast-spreading commitment to C[S]R, a case can be made that a fundamental new business model – one that respects stakeholder  and shareholder values simultaneously – is evolving." United Nations Global Compact "CSR is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis." European Union "CSR [is] achieving commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment."Business for Social Responsibility "CSR is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large."World Business Council for Sustainable Development Most informed observers include the following as potential elements of contemporary CSR:

Business' role in conflict zones
Community relations
Consumer protection
Corporate governance
Diversity
Economic development
Environmental sustainability
Ethical business practices
Health and Safety
Human rights
Labor rights
Lobbying/political influence
Strategic philanthropy
Supply chain standards
Working conditions
One of the most important challenges for CSR advocates is to convince skeptics both in and out of business that the CSR rationale is consistent with "traditional" business values. This often equates to demonstrating that the interests of shareholders need not be in conflict with the interests of other stakeholders. Charles Elson, Director of the Corporate Governance Center at the University of Delaware, U.S.A., has addressed this challenge directly:"I believe in shareholder primacy. On the other hand, I firmly believe that unless you are honest and take care of the other stakeholders in the business – your employees, your customers, your suppliers, your community – you will never create the profitability for your shareholders that you are required to under the law of fiduciary responsibility." We also need to determine what CSR is not. It is not "corporate charity" or "philanthropy at other people's expense". However, one element of contemporary CSR, "strategic philanthropy", seeks to merge corporate strategic interests with corporate social investment, or donations, recognising the importance of various communities affected by a corporation. This is a far cry from earlier practices of supporting the chairman's favorite charity. In short, CSR now represents the potential for a new dimension in rating the quality of business management in a fast-changing society -- a society in which public expectations and demands must be anticipated, considered and addressed. Success here is not only a matter of vitally-important risk management, i.e. reducing the likelihood of financial and reputational injury, but also one of capitalizing on emerging opportunities. The CSR/Public Relations Interface Serious cautions should be given due weight in projecting a CSR/PR interface:

Don't over-promise
Be aware that CSR is evolving and it has its skeptics and its advocates
Acknowledge that a successful CSR/PR model requires integration of public relations with many other professional disciplines
Recognize the different perspectives of the world's many traditions and cultures
But even with such cautions, the case is strong for public relations to be at, or near, the center of CSR management. The essence of professional public relations practice is to apply communications to help an organization, in this context a corporation, develop and maintain reciprocal relationships with the publics (or stakeholders) that can influence its future. The U.N. Global Compact has supplied the CSR/PR link: "Effective two-way communications is essential to CSR success." The applicable professional public relations portfolio of capabilities may include, but is by no means limited to, the following:

Cause-related marketing
Community relations
CSR reporting
Interactive media
Investor relations
Internal communications
Issues, crisis and risk management
In summary, public relations, properly placed and administered in the CSR business model, functions as the interface between a corporation and its publics, a critical zone for CSR success. Global Application In the 21st-century economically interconnected world, CSR will gain global acceptance as it helps solve, or at least ameliorate, some of the world's large-scale problems. Set out in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, this means significant, measurable progress in reducing poverty, improving health, increasing education and sharing vital natural resources, especially in less developed countries. Here, the interaction, or partnering, with stakeholders or involved organizations with "standing", which is often at the core of CSR practice, is a promising approach. U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan has suggested this course of action: "Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations." Such partnering can take various forms: coordination within an industry; linkage of a company with a government or multinational governmental institution; triangular cooperation among industry, government and non-governmental organizations; or variants of any of these models. The seeds of such CSR progress have been sown in a wide variety of programs. They range from the payments to adolescent students in Central America to forego menial employment and pursue education, to the vast network of successful "micro loans" in less developed countries; from corporate supplies of drugs to employees and their families to combat HIV in Africa, to corporate adult basic education and training for employees and communities - including the supply of information technology, software, hardware and training in LDCs. In Summary… The Global Alliance's overriding CSR mission is to help its members understand and - to the degree that they can, and wish to, - participate in the further development of this model of business-in-society. Supporting projects are well underway at several GA member associations. These include the Corporate Social Responsibility Network of the Institute of Public Relations (U.K.); a model for measuring the efficiency of social responsibility communications tools developed for Federazione Relazoni Pubbliche Italiane by the Bocconi University of Milan; and the Strategic Social Responsibility section of the Public Relations Society of America. There is, of course, a vast amount of work still to be done by business in two fundamental CSR arenas. One is applying CSR "at  home", i.e., with all of a corporation's stakeholders – the groups of  people with whom it interacts directly. The other is determining an appropriate role, if any, in the achievement of "responsible globalization" – the activist position relating to many world issues. Public relations professionals the world over can contribute significantly to such progress. The Global Alliance, by sharing the CSR experiences and resources of its partners, will help advance the evolution of CSR even as it serves the interest of its member associations and, in turn, the associations' individual members.




to: john paluszek prsa from: toni muzi falconi I enjoyed reading the final draft of the csr document on our web site after the two or three times it has circulated amongst the working group of which I was part...but I am still not happy with the outcome. There are a couple of points, if I may, that I would ask to reviewbefore a final version is put for approval to the global alliance board:

the suggested 'comandments' on page 5 are out of context and certainly at best incomplete. I would much prefer to elaborate in more details the paragraph which follows, indicating that advanced and generally accepted (at least in lip service style) public relations theory and practice (i.e. two way simmetric relationship-oriented communication) is essential to the very concept of social responsability, instead of suggesting that one should not overpromise (in what sense other than just communicating behaviour rather than intentions!?) or tokenlishly remember that there are cultural differences.....(so what else is new? it is certainly not csr which has made us aware of these...). As to the issue of differences, a specific point somewhere in the document should also warn against tokenist, cultural relativist as well as etnocentricist worldviews...which appear to be driving most csr communication today.
It appears from the text that the GA is in all-out support for the Global Compact and Kofi Annan: which it is. However, as you know there are many reservations about this initiative and not only in the no-global or the neo-cons arenas. Many companies who signed the document have ominously failed to pursue their committment and still participate... No qualms about this, but one thing is to support and the other is to patronize.
Also, as you somewhere in the document say yourself, csr begins at home and an overproportionate part of the document is related to the issues of large american headquartered multinational companies as if they had invented the csr theme...which as you well know is everything but true. In my view the document should be more catered to organizations in general (and not only private businesses) who are more concerned about csr with their employees, local communities, suppliers, regulators...
You seem to foster an overlapping of globalization with csr: in my view these are two quite distinct dimensions which sometime have something in common.
Finally, I wonder if this document gives a convincing answer to the original question which, if I remember correctly was: in line and coherently with the ethics protocol, can the ga produce an elaborated statement on the csr phase that our profession is living in many countries, in a way which gives our members an opportunity to thematize to their members how and to what extent they can and should capitalize on it? Maybe we should  put more 'pep' in the paper in order to be more critically rather than ideologically  aware on the 'whatever is good for pr is good for the world...' line of thought on an issue like csr which I believe is really a mixed blessing for our profession and full of risks which our document should at least indicate.
Thank you for your patience toni muzi falconi

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