Can Social Responsibility Sustain a Global Business?

March 3, 2013

The big idea: Although the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has existed for some time, its meaning and practice varies by country. CSR has served as a common concept for companies accountable for activities beyond making money and complying with regulations.

In 2001, France adopted laws that required all public firms traded on its stock markets to report its CSR activities. Several business leaders supported the role of an independent European agency to rate and evaluate companies on CSR efforts.

The scenario: One of the first rating agencies in France was Arèse, whose activities were soon taken over by a new firm called Vigeo. Its leader: Nicole Notat, a respected figure in France who had credibility with employers, investors and unions.

Vigeo provided evidence that socially responsible investment no longer meant giving up a return. Whether driven by regulation, pressures or social considerations, doing the responsible thing seemed to be catching on.

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