Illustration of Greenwashing Activity. Graphic: Keep Gaia Wild

Is the CSR Program Greenwashing?


By: Herry Ginanjar

Jakarta, – If we read John Elkington’s book entitled “Green Swans”, then we are given an understanding of the shift from shareholder value to system value. It said that corporations need to establish a responsible purpose and business model, looking at their impact, governance, and their stranded assets.

They need to move from shareholder to system value – in no way hindering societal quality, and ideally contributing to it. Energy should be renewable and available to all; water responsibly sourced and available to all; natural resources safeguarded; the environment free from waste and pollution; ecosystems protected, and people leading sustainable and fulfilling lives.

Few things to consider:

  1. CSR programs are usually initiated by companies, aiming to increase their brand reputation rather than creating sustainability of the area where the their operation is located. The company marks its CSR program and makes campaign (or socialization) through the appearance of the company logo in various places on banners, books, brochures, publications in the media, in aid objects, clothes, and others.
  2. It is stated that the company intends to increase surrounding community livelihood, and conducts assessment, social mapping, and analysis of program development, but does not involve the surrounding community (or Penta helix stakeholders) in the decision-making process. In other words, the community is only an object of CSR, not a subject or partner.
  3. Companies make CSR programs to comply with regulations (e.g. PT Law) or with the requirements in running their business, which is sometimes prepared to win awards in the achievement of their CSR programs. But the making of this CSR program to build together the surrounding community is not sincere.
  4. Often companies make this CSR program because they want to solve a social and/or environmental issue which if this issue is ignored can hinder the company or even threaten its existence and business continuity in the area.

Understanding the concept of System Value means that the company’s presence in the area is part of the community. They are responsible for the development of the environment towards sustainability. So that the objective to achieve a sustainable village becomes the shared vision for all Penta-helix stakeholders in that area. Each one should contribute and be responsible for the achievement of the sustainable village vision. Call the ideal initiative a multi-stakeholder participatory CSR program.

Returning to the title above is the CSR program greenwashing, if the company stands alone making a program as pointed in the above 4 items, even if they state it as a shared value program, then the CSR program could be greenwashing since it benefits mostly the company. And what makes it sustainable is the making of the CSR program, and the community demands will continue.

#sustainability #csr #pentahelix #systemvalue #stakeholdermanagement

Herry Ginanjar

CEO & Founder etKomunika (PT Dinamika Komunika Berkelanjutan)

Stakeholder Management Expert