Corporate Social Responsibility: How to Integrate and Communicate a Change Management Strategy in Your Organization Towards Sustainability

Conclusions of the V Regional European Association of
Communication Directors
(EACD) Lisbon Debate 2010

By Rui Martins

Today the debate around Corporate Social Responsibility focuses on
reflections concerning the ends that should orient the exercise of business
activity, and thus it’s based on the belief that organizations and society are
interconnected and inter-dependent bodies, that must bear in mind legitimate
expectations of society towards how business acts and the results it
achieves.

Rui MartinsRui Martins, Corporate Communications and Public
Affairs Director, Associação Dianova Portugal and Regional Coordinator for
Portugal, European Association of Communication Directors

By adopting business policies and practices fitting to the goals and values
of society, in search for social benefits that goes beyond economic ones, this
volunteer management model implies a business philosophy that is not (or must no
longer be) self-centred but incorporates in its planning social and
environmental concerns. How can this be achieved? By not only contributing to
social development  through the profit generated, but also by minimizing any
harmful effects over the well-being of communities and society.

Either motivated by a social conscience (ethical motivation), the need of
integration (promotion of acceptance) or legitimacy (that legitimizes the
capital system) or market pressure (strategic motivation), Corporate Social
Responsibility comprises social obligations as the result of the economic, legal
and ethical commitments towards society, comprehending, as referred by Carrol
(1979, 1999), economic responsibilities (generate wealth and growth), legal
responsibilities (binding to legal obligations and norms), ethical
responsibilities (synchronized conduct with moral codes and social values) and
philanthropic responsibilities (contributing on an active and volunteer basis to
the resolution of social problems and improvement of quality of life).

It seems clear that the adoption of more rigorous control mechanisms with
regard to the social, environmental and ethical impact of business
activity—including management decisions that affect health, security and
well-being of consumers, employees and communities (to mention just a few
stakeholders)—and an investment in a more transparent relationship and
engagement with society, is in order.

There is likewise a need for a revaluation of business  as moral, questioning
the traditional, egocentric view of business that unnecessarily divides
individual well-being from collective well-being—a view that in turn threatens
both the system and business sustainability.

The recent financial and economic crisis hopefully has taught us a critical
lesson: it is time, as Filipe Almeida has said,  for “a more socially
responsible business management that provides an adequate answer to the
economic, legal and ethical commitments that bind businesses to society.”  The
adoption of this type of management model will generate competitive advantages,
such as corporate reputation.

Corporate reputation’s mission is to create value  for stakeholders—clients,
boards of directors, employees and the broader society—by building a trustworthy
and inspiring brand that guarantees organizational sustainability. The roadmap
to achieving a sustainable brand  is determined by how leadership responds to
the three basic questions:

  • What procedures and capabilities do we require?
  • What do we need to change?
  • How can we best manage change in harmony with our core values?

By linking business strategy with communications in the first place, we can
recreate and lead an organization’s future—starting with the alignment of
people, leadership and organisational culture—through a change management
process that comprehends four levels of communication. These four levels of
communication—awareness, understanding, commitment and change—are best
engaged by using a proactive and positive flow of information, dialog,
involvement and recognition with the most suitable offline and online tools.

This was the main focus of the V Regional EACD Lisbon Debate held on May 10,
2010 in Lisbon, Portugal. The session, “Corporate Social Responsibility: a
multistakeholders’ approach to Sustainability in times of turmoil,” sponsored by
CTT  made an important contribution to the present dialog on this topic which is
of critical importance to both business and society.

Luís Paulo, Sustainability Director of CTT, delivering a presentation on “The
Limits of Sustainability” in which he raised the question of whether corporate
sustainability will save the planet or is it just another fad? Or is it even
worse, a smoke­screen for BwU – Business worse than Usual? Mr. Paulo outlined
CTT’s commitment to sustaina­bility, which he argued not only benefits society
but provides CTT with a competitive edge.

+ Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/Dianova/luis-paulo-os-limites-da-sustentabilidade-eacd-lisboa-2010

Lara Campos Tropa, Workforce & Field Enablement in Marketing,
Communications and Citizenship Responsibility at IBM Portugal, demonstrated how
IBM is measuring and evaluating CSR. Based on IBM’s corporate citizenship
programme, Lara Campos Tropa focused on the way a small part of a global company
can manage, measure and evaluate its locally developed CSR programmes such as
the World Community Grid, KidSmart, TryScience or the Corporate Service
Corps.

Yannis Freris, Head of Corporate Communication & Sustainable Development
at Gefyra, and Head of CSR Working Group at European Association of
Communication Directors, delivered a presentation titled “Make Acts not Words”
which focused on the era of the “eco2soc crises” (economic and ecological
crises, with their social outcomes). The crisis, he said, is one more reason for
corporate communications to show its “eco2soc consciousness” to the community.
Yannis explained how an organisation can position itself as a real citizen
through its actions.

+ Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/Dianova/yannis-freris-v-regional-eacd-lisbon-debate-2010

You can also see the evaluation presentation through the
link: http://www.slideshare.net/Dianova/eacd-v-regional-lisbon-debate-may-evaluation-2010

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About Rui Martins

Rui Martins is Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director for Associação Dianova Portugal and Regional Coordinator for
Portugal for the European Association of
Communication Directors
.