lundi, juillet 07, 2008

Grandeur et misère de la responsabilité sociale de l'entreprise

Très bon article dans le Report on Business Magazine de juillet intitulé The Kindness Corporations. L'article présente les avancées spectaculaires de la responsabilité sociale qui est devenue omniprésente.

Every big company these days professes to have obligations to employees, communities, the environment—and humankind in general—that go well beyond making money. Annual reports, with their yawn-inducing financial statements, have been superceded by earnest CSR and sustainability reports. It's a long way from Milton Friedman, who in 1970 called business supporters of corporate social responsibility "unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society." Would any Top 1000 CEO dare side—in public anyway—with Friedman today? Not likely.

Il questionne toutefois à juste titre dans quel mesure les entreprises ont intégré cette préoccupation à des fins stratégiques, nous encourageant à être vigilant:

We're led to believe that this trend is a good thing, that the evolving role of the corporation puts a more human face on capitalism and renders it more acceptable in parts of the world where it's still suspect. Yet the crux of Friedman's argument—he called CSR "a fundamentally subversive doctrine"—is as salient today as it was four decades ago, if not more so. When corporations take on a social role, often at the urging of elected officials themselves, it relieves governments of their responsibilities to mediate social demands. It removes policy-making from its proper forum. Put plainly, CSR is undemocratic.

It is also naive. Corporations, no matter how virtuous they claim to be, still have a hierarchy of self-interest. Practitioners of CSR may claim to attend to a "triple bottom line"—putting economic, social and environmental objectives on equal footing. But who really believes that profits, short-term ones at that, still do not take precedence in boardroom decisions?

Comme le dit l'adage, nous ne pouvons être contre la vertu. Cependant, il faut s'assurer que la rhétorique vertueuse concorde avec la réalité...

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