- Increasing inconsistencies between corporate actions and stated CSR commitments; companies will become astute at shielding their actual performance.
- CSR will be a technical fix.
- Real substantive issues won’t be addressed by CSR.
Most businesses will hold back waiting for the business case to develop – however, they may never be satisfied by the evidence of business case and may use this as an excuse for inaction.
- The business case will not be clear enough for companies to take up en masse,unless it is legislated or there are other incentives.
- CSR will not be on the public’s radar screen and there won’t be any clarity about what CSR is and why it is important.
- CSR will become too prescriptive and get labeled as needless red tape increasing the cost of business.
- Companies that once embraced CSR will lose interest and pursue other objectives.
- Those engaged in CSR shift to minimal CSR activities, never moving beyond baseline CSR.
- Pressures on business to cater to shareholders at the expense of all other stakeholders will continue if not increase; the imbalance of power will not change unless the membership on company boards changes to include stakeholder interests or until government legislation is brought to bear.
CSR optimists believe that the pessimists are only looking at the gap of where we are and where we need to be, without acknowledging that mindset change takes time and recognizing that the slow incorporation of these ideas is underway in business. They believe that the disillusionment is a function of the hope for too much too quickly.
CSR optimists believe that:
- In the future a significant number of companies will be convinced it’s in their strategic interest to incorporate CSR substantively into their operations.
- There is a crisis in industrial capitalism, which lacks in trust and social responsibility. Therefore, a rethinking should be done to decide the role of companies in society.
- CSR is at crossroads, in a time of real discontinuity, enormously in flux.
- The crisis in global markets is broadening the discussion of accountability and transparency – in this climate there is more openness to CSR ideas. CSR will be seen as good corporate governance.
- There will be pressure through competition for better CSR performance – this will impact on suppliers, etc.
- A small group of companies will be moving ahead quickly.
- There will be differentiation between different models and levels of CSR as a result of continuous improvement and quality assurance.
- CSR will advance, but it will advance inconsistently across sectors, depending on a company’s economic performance, economic downturns, competitiveness of the market, etc.
- Underlying structural drivers will impact large scale companies, such as the value of knowledge workers and other intangible assets, driving companies to take different issues into account.
- We see only a few companies committed to CSR because we are at the beginning of a long path on this journey; the shift toward sustainable capitalism is a long term trend and in 5 – 10 years only a few companies will be moving in this direction.
- Increasingly businesses will see CSR as resulting in increased competitiveness and profitability.
- CSR is part of a search for a new social contract between business and society. This new social contract will not necessarily be through the creation of a set of rules, but about a new set of norms arrived at through experimentation.
In spite of the difference in views of social impact and degree of corporate commitment, the majority of the optimists and the pessimists agree that 5 – 10 years from now CSR will nonetheless become increasingly mainstream within business, even if not within the public consciousness. CSR tools, resources, language – all will become more aligned with business norms and systems. CSR standards – to greater or lesser effect – will be part of business basics and not an add-on.