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Corporate Social Responsibility-Beyond Going Green

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Last week I attended a very interesting workshop. Called the CSR Practitioner Workshop, hosted by leading European think tank Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE). Surrounded by individuals from across industries, some experienced in the many aspects of CSR and others looking for a foundation, most represented the top echelon of executives at their respective employers. There was a Director of Sustainability, a Director of Sales, a Senior Consultant, another Director of Business Development, a VP of HR and a Director of Community Relations.

These were individuals who had realized they needed to jump in this race for sustainability quick. In the late 1990s, the same was happening with “diversity.” Human Resources directors and marketing executives were attending workshops and seminars on how to initiate diversity training programs, how to mentor their staff and how to spread awareness of different cultures and ethnicities.

Even then, some executives pooh-poohed the concept.

Diversity?

There weren’t enough budget dollars, not enough bandwidth, and for others not enough interest. Eventually though, we became a flatter world, business went global, talent immigrated across countries and everyone adopted some level of diversity policies and hired diversity experts/personnel to continue doing business while being “corporately and socially correct.”

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Now, the same conundrum is threatening to start hitting boardrooms and CEO suites across the country.

With Europe having taken the lead and made it mandatory for companies to report on their CSR quotients, etc., the US for once, has to play catch up.

To make matters difficult, for those of you who are reading this and thinking this is just about climate change and saving some trees, think again.

Corporate social responsibility envelopes many more concepts that just how green you are; it spreads its reach to promoting diversity, giving back to the community, taking care of your human capital, and pro bono. Recession or not, corporate and social responsibility is going to knock at your door, if it hasn’t already, and if you don’t respond proactively, you will be forced to follow, whether it is by legislation or market regulations.

As CSR starts moving away from being just about a company image to a mandatory regulation, are you as an executive at your company—regardless of how big or small you might be with your product line and number of employees—ready to take on this huge gamut of responsibilities and make sure you don’t get left behind? Have you kept up with the pace of change in the CSR field? And when that PR staffer asks you if the company has a CSR policy, or a prospective candidate asks you if you allocate a share of the company’s revenue to being corporately responsible, will you have an answer?

To see more coverage of the workshop and read about the ROI on your company’s CSR, visit Vault’s CSR blog: In Good Company.

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Aman Singh is an Editor with Vault and works with Fortune 500 companies on reporting their diversity recruitment strategies and initiatives.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com