CSR Advice for Students

I was recently interviewed for a student-oriented CSR project called “Citizen Act.”

Here’s the (public) Facebook page featuring the interview: Interview of Chris MacDonald, a Business Ethics Specialist

(Citizen Act is a “training game which trains students in the responsible banking practices of tomorrow.” It’s sponsored by Société Générale, a European financial services company.)

The interview is partly about my own career path, but also touches on my critique of CSR, as well as some stuff about the key obstacles for ethics/CSR, and my advice to students interested in this area. Here’s a snippet:

According to you, what are the main obstacles in the development of Business Ethics? Are there any cultural limitations? Any lack of resources or will?
I think the main obstacle is the complexity of organizations. Large, complex organizations exist for good reasons: they have the potential to be enormously productive and highly efficient. But they pose a challenge, both for internal control (by managers trying to implement a code of ethics, for example) and for external control (by regulators and ‘civil society.’)

The final bit is about my advice for students:

Would you have a message to deliver to students who are taking part in CITIZEN ACT?
My message would be to stay passionate, but to remember that being passionate about a topic like this is only the beginning. You need above all to use your brain, because our passions may run in different directions. Beyond that, avoid being either gullible or cynical about business. The world of commerce is enormously important for human well-being. Markets and the businesses that populate them do an enormous amount of good — our challenge is to figure out the best ways to conduct business so that it can stay competitive with the fewest possible negative side-effects.

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