CSR Values Must Permeate the Business, Says BT’s Kevin Moss

Companies need to take corporate social responsibility values and apply them to their broader business practices in order to create authenticity and garner trust with the public, says BT Americas CSR head Kevin Moss in his keynote speech at the PR News 2010 CSR Awards luncheon yesterday in Washington, D.C. (click here for a list of the winners).

Moss says that inconsistencies in applying values throughout the organization erode the public’s trust. “Perhaps you know a company that addresses poverty and homelessness through its foundational giving while paying minimum wage,” said Moss. “Or you might come across a bank funding economic responsibility education while delivering high-risk mortgages into the same marketplace.”

Addressing such inconsistencies would demonstrate an authenticity that would raise the trust and reputation meters, said Moss. He went a step further in suggesting that companies look more closely at the CSR values of their vendors, corporate partners and business customers. Values that closely match their own should be considered.

Moss also spoke about the expanding role of social networks in CSR practices, and the future possibilities of its use. Citing a gap that traditional PR sets between individual and corporate life (particularly with CEOs and other top management), Moss said social networks could help bridge that gap by creating authentic two-way communications between all stakeholders.

He cited Bill Marriott, head of the hotel chain, as an example. “Marriott wrote an excellent post on his blog in November 2008 on California’s Proposition 8, articulating his distinction between his beliefs as a member of the Mormon Church and his position as president of Marriott the company,” said Moss. “The post was a brave one to write…but it demonstrated exactly the sort of authenticity and personal accountability that we need.”

Moss’ advice to his CSR colleagues: Get involved across the business functions; be a catalyst for change; and use volunteering and other forms of engagement to heighten awareness of business issues—and challenge those volunteers to take lessons learned and apply them in the business.

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