CSR and the City
Hello, my dear blog reader! Probably you are reading this from a city. A city where you work, live and create new ideas. You interact with hundreds of people every day, and you know that life in the city can only be possible if us citizens understand each other and share responsible solutions for our problems and challenges. You are a citizen, like me.
When great part of the world population lives in urban areas, and most of our companies and businesses are established in cities, it’s very important to know if there is a connection between cities and corporations. We need to know if cities can play a central role in the model swift that we need. I believe that the new model will base mainly on a swift of business paradigm, a new way of leading companies in a more responsible way. Now, what do cities have to do with that?
Cities are the closest administration
Of all the different administrations, local authorities are the ones closer to citizens and small and medium entreprises (SME’s). Due to this proximity, cities have the bigger capacity to influence their citizens’ behavior. It’s logical to think that the closest administration is the one that should be able to understand SME’s better and solve their problems faster. Cities should become the place where companies can turn to if they need information or guidance. Many small businesses that want to act socially responsible are very often lost dealing with reporting standards, guidelines etc. The city can act as a meeting point where citizens and companies meet and talk about their worries and needs. It’s the place where they can work out solutions to their challenges and find new ways to create value for everyone.
An important reason to dialogue with our stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, authorities, community) is to understand them. We need to know what they expect from us so that we can act proactively. None of this can happen if we don’t build a certain amount of “stakeholder intimacy”. Small and medium enterprises (SME’s) are often lost when they have to deal with authorities and fulfill all the legal requirements. The City is the environment where all this stakeholder intimacy can originate in a natural way.
CSR not only for corporations
Very often people think that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is just a “corporate thing” intended for big multinationals. However it ‘s clear that also SME’s can profit from CSR activities. Cities should help their citizens (including small companies) to understand and apply the language of CSR. Cities spend a lot of money in all kind of campaigns to promote a clean city, to protect public equipments, etc. Why not spend part of this money in promoting a more responsible behavior among citizens and businesses? Cities can translate corporate language into more simple terms that everybody can understand.
(Think Globally) Act Locally
We all know the slogan. However, there are already many institutions and organizations creating standards and global frameworks, maybe far too many. Now the secret is in acting locally: It’s time that all this is applied at a local level, where people and companies actually interact and work: the City. If I was a small company and would like to make my contribution to social responsibility, I would be happy to know that there is somebody close to me that can help me, someone who is aware of my problems and my concerns.
A city more socially responsible
Cities have to act as a role model for people and companies and act as a beacon. Local authorities should always integrate a socially responsible way of acting. This is the only way that citizens and businesses can turn to the City as someone they can learn from. In CSR we need role models that can irradiate their experience to everybody. We cannot rely only on NGO’s, big corporations or agreements between governments. The proximity and way of acting of local authorities makes them more suitable to play a great deal of influence.
Having said all that, a new problem arises: where to get the funds? Where can cities get the resources to promote CSR activities among citizens and SME’s? Would not be the resources be more efficiently spent if they are spent at a “lower level”, where the needs and special requirements of neighbors and businesses are better understood? Very often cities will need to work with local consultancies and establish with them a cooperation framework.