Everything in the CSR / Sustainability world at the moment seems to evolve around BP and its action/inactions to fix the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I am not doing any BP bashing here today. I am only using the current BP oil spill disaster in todays post as an example that CSR needs to evolve beyond its environmental aspects and the attention for detail by its practitioners.
This is my main argument in this post: Best practice such as the latest trend of integrated report, use of social media, etc. are steps in the right direction in my opinion but we need to increase the speed of the adoption of a more responsible business practice across the board within business in your local area and region.
The BP example has shown that big business will not act responsibly if it can get away with it. We therefore need to start at the local level to convince businesses to demand a more responsible business practice from all their businesses they are involved with. Customers and suppliers. Sustainability / CSR starts at the micro level and with clear guidance and support from a governmental level as I argued in my previous post.
This might sound very general and broad but it seems to me that we as Sustainability / CSR professionals are being caught up in the nitty gritty details of working with CSR / Sustainability far to easily and are somehow loosing the view of the big picture and the main purpose of this practice: To champion Sustainability / CSR and to help organizations in the transition to adopt a more responsible business practice.
This is the short video I recently did in partnership with 3blmedia on exactly this topic. Please let me know what you think about my argumentation and whether you agree or disagree.
I am currently reading Chris Brogans and Julien Smiths Trust Agents book. And one of the key themes of the book is the trust agent concept. A quote from the book reads: “Trust agents aren’t necessarily marketers or sales people; they are the digitally savvy people who use the Web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty, and genuine relationships.”
Reading this prompted me to take a critical look at my own industry, the Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industry, and what people we trust in this industry.
I am not so sure. We like them and agree with most of what they do and stand for. But do we trust them? Doesn’t trust really mean a lot more then just agreeing with someones views?
These are big questions and they are tough to answer but I believe there are certain key elements we are looking for when we decide to trust someone or not. Especially in the context of the web and the fact that you can not meet the person face to face right away.
Today I am looking for the elements of an online presence you should look out for when someone claims to be part of the CSR and Sustainability sector.
Elements of Trust for Sustainability and CSR professionals on the Web
Does he/she have a blog or a website where I can take a look at what they do? Company websites are okay but the really interesting content and context is usually on the blogs. We seem to trust blogs more then company websites.
Is this person using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc to reach out to more people? If not then how is he/she communicating their messages online? A Twitter and LinkedIn profile is a must nowadays.
What is the first impression of the content he/she is providing on their website/blog? Is the blog being used for self promotion only or is this real content with a proper message that adds something to the discussion of the particular topic?
How long has he/she been working in the sector? Is he/she just out of university (not bad- but not so much business experience of course) or is he/she a seasoned professional that is now discovering the web and is willing to engage us online now?
What is their general business experience other then in the Sustainability/CSR sector? The Sustainability and CSR business sector is not so vastly different to normal business sectors so general business experience is a very important aspect of trusting someone.
These are just a few, but in my opinion most important points to look for in new people coming into the Sustainability and CSR field.
Have I missed anything? What do you think could be added to this list?