Professor Ian Vandewalle, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Operations) and Head of Liverpool Hope Business School, delivered his Inaugural Professorial Lecture on the Corporate Social Responsibility… for good, or profit?.
He traced the origins of social responsibility and the moral questions it poses for businesses, in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Professor Vandewalle sort to define the difference between CSR and social responsibility, and ask how individual social responsibility translates into the collective business responsibility. He also looked at how we research and measure its impact in the community.
Themes explored under the topic included geography, biology, psychology, sociology, history, business, economics, ethics and values, faith, education and hope.
Professor Vandewalle highlighted several recent company scandals that have jeopardised trust in brands and questioned the sincerity of CSR. He looked at the difference between CSR and socially responsible organisations, to distinguish businesses where CSR is not a profiteering or reputational drive.
He said: “We’ve got to look for where the social good is not linked to the business, where doing good has little impact on the bottom line, but is none the less seen as an absolutely integral part of the business itself.”
Everton in the Community - Everton Football Club’s charity and Liverpool Hope University’s new research partner - was used as an example of an organisation that displays this focus on social responsibility.
Professor Vandewalle said: “Everton in the Community has established itself a number of pillars, which drive forward an ambitious social agenda; it includes, employment, education and training, youth engagement, health and well-being, sport development, community and business development, the Everton Free School and Sixth Form College, and it has a clear concern for the community that surrounds it.
“And although those activities are likely to increase fan loyalty and passion for the club, it is unlikely to actually increase ticket sales on the door. So there is a divorce between making the profit on the business and actually building a business and a charity that is focused on the community.”