The five stages of CSR

December 21st, 2012 by Dr Wayne Visser

In this interview Dr. Wayne Visser identifies five stages of CSR:

  • Defensive CSR about compliance and risk management
  • Philanthropic or charitable CSR about giving back to the community
  • Promotional CSR about brand and reputation
  • Strategic CSR that aligns the issues with core business by adopting codes or standards
  • Transformative CSR that works to solve the environmental and social problems of the world

Corporate Social Responsibility, which goes back at least to the big philanthropic movement in the USA in the mid 19th Century, needs to move to Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, which Dr. Visser dubs ‘CSR 2.0‘.

Dr. Visser writes “that CSR has failed. The logic is simple and compelling. A doctor judges his/her success by whether the patient is getting better (healthier) or worse (sicker).”

“Similarly, we should judge the success of CSR by whether our communities and ecosystems are getting better or worse. And while at the micro level – in terms of specific CSR projects and practices – we can show many improvements, at the macro level almost every indicator of our social, environmental and ethical health is in decline,” he writes.

Dr Visser is founder and director of CSR International and author or editor of 17 books.

His most recent book is ‘The Quest for Sustainable Business‘.


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