I recently had the chance to look at the corporate responsibility / poverty alleviation project of a major multinational corporation, and it looked very familiar. As far as I could tell, they took a set of things they already did, named it, studied it, collected a few metrics on it, and claimed thousands of jobs created, millions into the local economy, etc.
These days, it seems that every company has to do something “nice” for the world. The problem is that, in most companies, a small group with not a lot of power, budget or influence is in charge of the “nice” projects. Hence the result: going from doing nothing to doing a little bit “more than nothing.” This might be good enough when your stakeholders aren’t going to dig any deeper – when all you really want is a theme for a section of your annual report, to write a press release, to get a few photo ops, etc.
I guess “more than nothing” is, well, better than nothing. But it’s also pretty disappointing, and we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back yet if this is the best we can do.
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