Ideas for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility

To Adine Mees
Executive Director, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility

I think CSR Canada could be a child of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and later become its parent. I propose that we create a group of thinkers and potential partners with an interest in creating and participating in CSR Canada. We can think about it as an informal board of custodians of the idea and of the interests served by the idea. In this case the “board” is a brain trust, governance of a different kind, a team that figures out how to make it happen so it serves everyone’s interests well.

CSR Canada becomes the child of CBSR and CBSR rears the idea to adulthood. The idea has already been born, complete with its positioning line, in the international press.

My idea for CBSR and CSR, is to allow potential new members to customize their relationship based on their interests and on how they can and would like to contribute to our interests. My suggestion is to think about and make each membership a relationship. Our part of the relationships is to figure out what we can do for them. Their part of the relationship is to figure out what they can do for us and for the interests we serve and are pursuing.

They can determine the contribution they can and would like to make with some assistance from us on what kinds of relationships might work. We then build the relationship so we both benefit equally and fairly as it grows. We keep the barriers to membership low but the quality, potential, and our mutual benefits for the relationship unlimited.

Our job is simply to ensure that everything works in our common interests and in the common interests we serve. I think our interest is to create richer and more rewarding relationships with all of our members and to offer new members the opportunity to make as big a contribution as they can visualize is possible when they join the team. We can articulate the things that could work well for the enterprise and for the interests we serve. They could have better or bigger ideas. For example, I think J.Walter Thompson in the world of communications would be a dynamite member/partner/relationship to have. I think it would be good to focus on the things they could contribute in our discussions with them. They might be inclined to contribute substantially more in their participation as members, in resources, in kind, in support, in leverage.

I define “shareholder” as anyone with an interest in making an enterprise successful. My guess is that most current and prospective new members have bought into the idea of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and want the enterprise to be more successful. Our job is to help them get more engaged in their interests.

I am reminded about why I resigned from CBSR after we got the enterprise started. It was because I couldn’t make the case for not charging membership fees based on the number of employees they have. Number of employees is no reflection of their financial health, or their ability to contribute, or the benefits that might accrue to them through membership. I think the formula for success is to give everyone the opportunity to explore how they can and would like to contribute to making the Centre for Social Responsibility more successful.

Roger Chilton

CSR Canada – Engaging Business in Social Responsibility
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility Concept Paper – PDF