One million reasons to be cheerful (even if there’s no “market” in CSR).

Dear friends, here’s a quick update on progress at my startup.

I spent the entire week researching CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) using only Twitter. Hypothesis: SocialMedia+OpenData=CSR. I researched online while my daughters were at school each day, and each evening after they were in bed. I started dreaming of hashtags, solar planes, climate doom and excel spreadsheets of triple bottom lines.

And what did I find? Hundreds upon hundreds of bright, committed, enthusiastic folk all across the world, promoting their CSR credentials as consultants, bloggers, advisers … in short, an army of genuine but underemployed professionals.

Things were not going well.

“Where’s the business model? Where’s the demand? Who’s the customer and what pain will they pay for us to take away?” … the words of all those startup advisers rang in my ears. I was feeling drained, like I’d reached the end of the road. No market here. Plenty of supply, but little demand. Plenty of PR greenwash (from inauthentic corporations and cynical marketeers, not from the good-hearted CSR folk) but little true commitment.

And yet … those hundreds of tweeps promoting their CSR wares. They matter. Their commitment matters. Who cares if they are all as broke as I am? They care, and they see with the same eyes. Counting up their followers (and allowing for substantial overlap) there are – literally – MILLIONS of people who are actively, vocally engaged on the issues I care deeply about. The issues that define us as humans in a connected, compassionate global society. The issues that define the futures of all our children. Access to resources, justice, freedom from slavery, advocacy. Beauty. Joy. Innovation. Progress. Ethics. Self-belief.

Confidence in our common humanity, and in our ability to imagine and create our common future.

So although it’s cold and dreary weather here in London, let’s not be cynical! Even if there’s not an obvious “market” in CSR, and it seems that supply far outstrips demand at present, the fact remains that there are MILLIONS of people who care deeply about solving these issues.

And that is a damn good reason to be cheerful, and to keep this startup going forward.

Good night x

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2 Responses to One million reasons to be cheerful (even if there’s no “market” in CSR).

  1. Dear Pascale,

    it’s not quite as dreary šŸ™‚ May be a bit risky to only look up/follow the CSR ‘wannabes’ on Twitter – and yes, there are loads of them. There are tons of people working very effectively in CSR – the committed big companies literally have hundreds of people in their sustainability departments, but the Mike Barry-s of Marks & Spencer and the Hannah Jones-es of Nike are, I would assume, simply too busy to tweet much (in turn: under-employed CSR wannabes have a lot more time on their hands in any given day to be extensively present on Twitter … no offense). You may want to consider following also people like Henk Campher (@AngryAfrican) of Edelman or @DaveStangis of Campbell Soup or @JamesFarrar of SAP or @CWoodcraft formerly of Shell, now CEO of the Emirates Foundation – real sustainability people doing real committed and successful work that actually makes an impactful change in the so-called ‘CSR’ arena (that has long been called ‘CSR’ only by the uninitiated – the people who *really* work in the field have been calling it ‘sustainability’ for a few years now).

  2. Maya Eilam says:

    I think it’s easy to see oppressive institutions as impossible to dismantle. But it’s important to see that an individual’s passion for positive social change is unstoppable in its own way. And you’re right, there are so many who care. So, cheerful it is!

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