Why CSR is an impediment to good sustainability practice

Steven Johnson, in his article Business as usual: you’re fired! suggests that the biggest barrier to progress on sustainability is one of the very things we consider as part of good sustainability practice: CSR. He discusses 10 reasons the current situation is different, and the same 10 reasons business must change in an unprecedented way.

One of Johnson's claims is that market forces will favour brands that demonstrate restraint, take action on income equality and innovate products and services that make an economic hardship easier to bear. The recent reminders of the impacts cheap, throw-away clothing have on the lives of mostly women in sweatshops in Bangladesh and other countries (not to mention resource use) may be a test for his argument. How will the Australian companies identified in this week’s 4 Corners, and perhaps other companies that were not identified but buy cheap clothing from the same sweatshops, respond? Will they undertake a serious review of their purchasing – and sales – behaviour or will it just be a damage control response. We must bear in mind of course that there are two sides to every story….may the other side be told soon.