Is Corporate Social Responsibility Dead During This Economic Crisis?

by Dr. David Gruder

I recently responded to a question posed on another site about whether Corporate Social Responsibilty (CSR) is dead during our current economic crisis. Here is the answer I offered…
I would say that the opposite is true. Economic survival requires that the number of companies taking CSR seriously will actually increase during this economic downturn… especially as more companies embrace a more complete view of the inextricable connection between long-term economic sustainability and CSR.

Over a decade ago, John Elkington described how Cash Capital (profits), Natural Capital (planet), and Social Capital (people), form the "Triple Bottom Line" of twenty-first century business. This triple crown of sustainability underlines how CSR is not merely about Natural Capital. It illuminates how Social Capital is not merely a crucial missing piece in CSR; it is an equally crucial ingredient in restoring economic sustainability.

The Gallup Organization estimates that there are 22 million "actively disengaged employees." By itself this group costs the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity, including absence, illness and other problems that result when workers are unhappy at work. Just imagine the added costs and lost profits the average company incurs when the 54% of their employees who are "not engaged" are added to the 17% who are "actively disengaged!"

According to Jan Phillips, author of "The Art of Original Thinking," employees are in "pursuit of purpose-driven lives and principle-driven workplaces." They are "searching for meaningful workplace experiences, looking for organizations whose commitment runs deeper than the traditional bottom line." They "want to align their purpose with businesses that are purpose-driven as well as profit-driven."

Clearly there is a direct and powerful connection among: 1) The relative absence of what Phillips describes; 2) The dramatic under-utilization of Social Capital in most companies; and 3) Today’s society-wide epidemic of lack of integrity.

I believe businesses that seize on the opportunity to do internal corporate Integrity Makeovers for the sake of improving bottom line will not only win increased productivity from their employees, but will win greater customer loyalty as well. When it comes to this dimension, what serves the corporate bottom line is what serves society.

This is precisely the reason I provide my Integritized Systems programs to companies, based on my triple-award-winning book, "The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World."

Companies making the commitment to Integritizing their business as a cornerstone of their sustainability and CSR strategies stand to profit most during this economic downturn through simultaneously enhancing their Social Capital and their Corporate Reputation. Hence my statement that "Integritizing your company maximizes your triple bottom line."

This is simply good business sense in any economic climate, but most definitely during our current crisis.

To learn more about the keynotes, training and media interviews I am offering on this topic, click on

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  • Shaylee
    May 9, 2009

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