In March, the lovely city of Dublin played host to the British Academy of Management (BAM) to run a workshop discussing future developments in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The workshop was jointly organised by the BAM Sustainable and Responsible Business Management Special Interest Group (SIG) and Technological University Dublin, Tallaght Campus.
The Technological University (TU) Dublin, which is driven by innovation, was the ideal setting to bring together both academics and practitioners to deliberate all issues related to CSR. The workshop was well-attended; which made for lively debate, and featured engaging presentations from the field of academia as well as industry experts.
Dr. Konstantina Skritsovali from Manchester Metropolitan University (Joint Chair of the BAM Sustainable and Responsible Business SIG) illustrated the evolution of CSR over time. Her research found that it is important for companies to foster collaborative cross-sector networks: these relationships align different stakeholder interests and consider the most environmental, sustainable solutions as the best outcome.
Dr. Lorraine Sweeney from TU Dublin also presented her work on the importance of engaging with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Lorraine’s research highlighted that SMEs may not even realise that they are participating in CSR activities and are usually also reluctant to use the term ‘CSR’ for their community-enhancing initiatives.
Deborah Dignam, from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), spoke of the CSR Check, a progress report showcasing Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020. This Plan has been inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She explained how the DBEI pushed for change on four CSR strategic dimensions: marketplace, workplace, environment and community and provided case study examples of Irish companies successfully pursuing these four strategies.
Attendees also heard about the work of industry representatives: Neil Menzies, who is the CSR Manager at transport operator, Transdev, and James McManus, who is CEO of the adventure company, Earth’s Edge. Neil described his work at Luas, Dublin’s tram network, and the CSR initiatives in place to reduce its energy consumption and to promote the sustainable development of the network. James proudly spoke about his start-up with regards to responsible tourism and called for the need of SMEs to communicate their CSR efforts, as this educates customers and drives competitors to follow suit.
The SIG event closed with a round-table discussion, allowing all attendees to further develop the key points from the presentations and deliberate several core issues in the development of CSR. A central topic to emerge from the workshop was the differing language and terms used when communicating CSR. This appeared to fluctuate depending upon the size of the firm, as well as across industries. In keeping with the Centre’s terminology and mission, it appears that the term ‘responsible business’ may be more appropriate in this regard.
As well as a renewed appreciation for the Emerald Isle, attendees left with a renewed appreciation for the complexity of translating CSR from theory to impactful, sustainable practice. Many thanks go to the host, Dr. Blath McGeough from TU Dublin, who expertly put the event together.