At a Business in the Community seminar this week, Anne-Marie Huby
of Medecins Sans Frontieres took the wind out of the sales of many a
good corporate citizen with her hard-hitting comments on the real
benefits, or otherwise, of corporate social responsibility.
Contrary to the common misconception that all acts of corporate
generosity are a ’good thing’, Huby pointed out that throwing money at a
cause does little bar salve the corporate conscience.
To date, corporate community campaigns have all too often been devised
on a short-term basis. But to be truly effective from both the company’s
and the charity’s point of view, acts of magnanimity must be sustainable
Over one-third of all emergency medical supplies donated to aid workers
in Macedonia and Albania by Western pharmaceutical companies, for
example, have recently had to be jettisoned after they were found to
contain anti-smoking packs and lip salve rather than anticipated
syringes and antibiotics.
Effective corporate social responsibility involves a long-term
commitment in terms of the provision or even development of relevant
products with real benefits. This kind of policy decision has
However, through this commitment, not only will the charities involved
reap benefit, but the company’s investment will stand out from the crowd
of cause-related head-shaving marathons and sponsored walks.