All for the common good
satis&fy Rep Speaks at the CSR Forum in Ludwigsburg
Common knowledge is born of common interest, so when the meaning behind an obscure abbreviation becomes widely known it’s usually because it concerns all and sundry. CSR matters to most of us. Short for corporate social responsibility, it’s a measure of a company’s willingness to go about its business in sustainable, socially engaged ways. Enterprises answer to stakeholders, but they also have a responsibility to the general public and the environment. This is beginning to dawn on large multinationals, especially, as the attendance roster at the annual CSR Forum attests. Every year some 750 participants gather for two days at the International Forum on Sustainability and Futureability (apparently a portmanteau of future and viability) to discuss sustainability issues. satis&fy was invited to the eleventh installment held this year. We were delighted to visit Ludwigsburg for the congress, although if we had our way we would have changed the question mark in this year’s motto “No Business Success without CSR?” to an exclamation point. We are convinced that the only way for a business to thrive over the long haul is with a more conscientious ethos.
Marcus Stadler, satis&fy’s man on a CSR mission, made a few emphatic points at the CSR Forum that would have also merited an exclamation mark or two, for example, when he extolled the virtues of the common good report. Marcus talked about how we adopted this balance sheet in a panel discussion with Christine Miedl, director of corporate communications at Munich’s Sparda Bank. The common good report originated with the Austrian activist Christian Felber, who went on to spawn an entire movement called the Common Good Economy. This elaborate checklist is not about revenues and profits; it rates sustainability practices according to 17 indicators. Last year satis&fy x-rayed the company’s entire anatomy to probe our practices down to the bone, with Karben being the first site to undergo this rigorous checkup. External auditors then reviewed and rated the results. satis&fy has since been working its way toward milestones near and far. The next common good audit in 2016 will tell us how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go. It’s not easy going, but it’s a lot more rewarding than taking the path of least resistance. Marcus says it’s actually fun because the challenge of achieving a higher score appeals to the workforce’s competitive instincts. Everyone has to pitch in with their unique skills, so it’s also a motivating force that strengthens discipline and team spirit. Perhaps, then, the most important take-away from the Ludwigsburg gathering is this: Getting serious about CSR has nothing to do with earning bragging rights, but embracing it can help build a better, more sustainable business inside and out.