IBM, one of our corporate partners, is featured in a businessweek.com article that spotlights corporate social responsibility. George Pohle, IBM’s vice president and global leader for business strategy consulting, talks about a recent IBM study that “shows a hefty percentage of top officers don’t quite connect with customer concerns.”

The article, in a question-and-answer format by William J. Holstein, opens with the following:

Top managements of companies around the world are confronting a growing chorus of demands to articulate their corporate social responsibility strategies, yet 76 % of top executives polled by IBM acknowledge they don’t truly understand their customers’ concerns.

Pohle provides interesting insights about corporate social responsibility issues — and links CSR clearly with corporate business strategies. Here’s a sample:

Q: For years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was an add-on to businesses and was basically a kind of marketing. But now it seems customers want companies to embed social responsibility into their strategies, right?

A: That’s right. In the past, when many of us were going to business school, the focus was on shareholder value. Now with the influence¬† these other stakeholders have, it is really about a broader definition of “who are the folks you’re trying to please while running your business?” It’s about shareholders and other stakeholders, as opposed to focusing only on shareholder value.

Important issue. Interesting perspective.

by Rob Jewell