The CSR Fad: Fashion & Futility

csr fad

Huawei (China)

This page continues to describe CSR Evolution, with more examples of the CSR Fad & Fashion Show.  Defenders of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are quick to point out that CSR isn’t a fad. But the accusation is never put to rest. Corporations that participate in the CSR fad always have to say that they really mean it. That it’s not just nice words and pretty pictures. Journalists and others also join the kumbaya chorus, explaining that CSR could really do some good in the world.

Leaving the CSR Fad

However as the pictures show, corporations are leaving the CSR Fad. This is happening for a number of reasons.

Firstly, whenever a fashion becomes too common, the cool kids will leave it behind. CSR is now so common that every business from the villages of India and Africa now has a Corporate Social Responsibility. With a blue and green annual CSR Report and everything. Avant-garde firms need something much more current.

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Croda explains it’s shift from CSR to Sustainability

Secondly, as CSR began to evolve into something meaningful and comprehensive, companies ran away from it. They prefer newer and vague acronyms, without clear definitions.

CSR Fad changing to Sustainability

These pictures are just a few examples of corporate CSR reports that have changed their names with the fashion. Usually from Corporate Social Responsibility to Corporate Responsibility to Sustainability. Businesses and leaders that formerly invoked CSR at every turn now rarely mention it. The reports formerly known as ‘CSR Reports’ now try to avoid the label. The newer ersatz terms allow them to claim the same righteousness without the baggage and expectations of CSR.

Sustainability is now especially fashionable for corporations. It’s environmental focus is relatively singular and easy to pay lip-service to. Sustainability is now going through the same fashion cycle. CSR is now effete, sustainability will soon be. After it’s worn out, society will move on. Try to guess what the new cliché word of the future will be.

CSR Fad Examples:

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WPP (UK) is a communications firm, so they kept up to date

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John Lewis Partnership (UK)


Northrop (US)



Bosch (Germany)

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ASICS athletics







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Delhaize Group (Belgium)

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Delhaize explains its fashion change





It is tempting to celebrate the fading of the CSR Fad. However the superficial mentality that gave rise to CSR lives on. The appeasement of anti-business and anti-capitalism is simply being reborn.

nestle csv csr fad

Nestle is one of the few companies to leave CSR for the CSV Fad.

An example of the attempted rebirth of CSR is Professor Porter’s creation of ‘CSV‘ as a replacement for CSR. But CSV proved an even shorter lived fad.

Get with the fashion. Click here to make your own Sustainability Report.
Click here to see the Cartoon Fad in CSR.

csr sustainability

from ‘CSR Report’ to ‘Sustainability Report’

csr tesco

Tesco changed their CSR name twice.

sinsbury csr

Sainsbury: CSR (2004) to CR (2010) to CR&S (2014)