Updated Again for Christie’s 2015 CSR Report (scroll to the end)
If you don’t have exquisite tastes, you may not be familiar with Christie’s. It’s probably the world’s largest fine art auction house. Christie’s CSR publications provide a perfect example of Corporate Social Responsibility. In other words, it’s superficial and poorly done. This is odd. Fancy artistic companies that cater to well-off folks usually have flashy high quality CSR.
Additionally, the company still has a CSR program. Many other firms have moved past the CSR Fad.
Christie’s CSR: Above & Beyond?
All companies are supposed to follow the laws and regulations where they operate. However, some corporations enjoy boasting of their Corporate Social Responsibility. This means they go above and beyond their legal obligations. They help the community, save the whales, etc.
Rarely would a firm boast in their CSR material that they obey the law, a basic obligation. Christie’s is such a firm. Their CSR material is full of brave claims to be basically legal.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that illegal ivory cannot be sold at Christie’s.”
“Christie’s adheres to any and all local and international laws related to cultural property and patrimony.”
Christie’s CSR: Strong Words
Their claims on ivory products are typical of CSR. Manipulating words to sound lofty, with many contrary caveats.
“Christie’s unequivocally condemns the slaughter of elephants for illegal elephant ivory. Christie’s will not sell modern ivory, or unworked tusks of any age.”
“We sell historic objects of cultural and artistic importance, some of which contain ivory or are made wholly of ivory”
“In selling historic cultural objects which incorporate ivory, we are careful to abide by all global and local laws designed to protect elephants.”
The firm uses strong language such as ‘unequivocally condemns the slaughter of elephants’. Then adds ‘for illegal elephant ivory’ and more caveats. Of course they still sell ivory, just the legal and historic variety. They follow up by again claiming to abide by global and local laws that protect elephants. Obeying the law must really be a great accomplishment.
Christie’s CSR: Big Numbers
Another typical CSR tactic is using big numbers that don’t really reflect reality. Its 2014 CSR Progress Report using extra large font, states “$58,000,000 total raised by Christie’s charity auctioneers for more than 300 charitable organizations globally.” The $261,500,000 total raised is similarly large and misleading.
This tactic is used repeatedly. The firm is reporting in their philanthropy section the value of art someone else donated, and they auctioned. Christie’s was the middle man facilitating the deal, yet is seemingly reporting the total value donated. A more accurate number would be the value of the auctioneering service provided. Obviously if they reported the value of their facilitating, it would not be $261,500,000. But $261,500,000 looks better, the whole point of CSR.
Christie’s CSR: Not Even Trying
Christie’s CSR is surprisingly bad and old fashioned. The wording is contradictory and the numbers are inflated. More revealing is the general tone of their CSR reporting. This is one of the smallest reports, with bad grammar. Sloppy grammar and reporting is symbolic of firms that place a low priority on supposedly important CSR.
As usual this firm’s CSR is a box checking exercise. No one bothered to tick the boxes “grammar check” and CSR Evolution.
Christie’s CSR: UPDATED!
Christie’s recently remade their 2014 CSR Progress Report. See below for link to their website, also updated. Their report is now better looking, almost befitting an artistic firm. The sentence shown above had its grammar corrected:
Now the firm just needs to spell ‘Stewardship’ correctly:
The new and improved report still isn’t clear on the ‘$261,500,000’ raised for nonprofits. This bazillion dollars is included in the ‘Philanthropy’ section. Was this part of regular business? Were fees charged on these sales? Institutions and foundations are a regular part of the expensive art crowd. Does servicing these clients count as philanthropy?
Christie’s finally spell checked its most recent iteration of the 2014 CSR Progress Report. 5th time’s a charm.
Christie’s 2015 Progress Report Update!
Christie’s released their 2015 CSR Progress Report. Probably soon to be re-named with something more catchy.
The 2015 report does the usual big numbers without any explanation or meaning. $189,438,436! It also adds one more element of bourgeois culture, Carbon Offsets. Except something doesn’t add up. Christie’s includes the air miles flown in its big numbers section. Maybe they don’t understand you’re not supposed to show off how many miles you flew around the world emitting carbon dioxide.
The main issue is the offset. The company claims 2,380 metric tons of carbon monoxide was offset. Carbon Monoxide? Who offsets carbon monoxide? Not a direct greenhouse gas. Practically all offset schemes concern Carbon Dioxide. Christie’s is either playing games to save money, doesn’t know the difference, or doesn’t care what gets put in the CSR Report. Most likely the latter judging by their 2014 report. CSR is usually a low priority, done to appease the easily appeased. Monoxide, Dioxide, no one reads this anyways.
Even if it’s assumed to be 2,380 tons of carbon dioxide. According to some calculators, that doesn’t offset 9.4 million miles of business air travel.
From Christies CSR website: