Traditionally, the global development community has looked upon corporate social responsibility programs with a certain degree of skepticism. Too many companies, critics argue, have used their corporate donations to atone for — or distract from — harmful and unethical business practices.
Corporate giving has proven an easy way to counter the claims of activist groups and can help rebuild public trust when a company is under fire. Corporate giving can also help avoid costly new regulations by assuaging politicians and their constituencies. Even if a company is on good terms with the public, associating with a good cause is a relatively cheap way to bolster a company’s image or advertise among niche groups.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, CSR Europe — a European business network for corporate social responsibility — is trying to change this perception.
Although he freely admits its faults, it is Executive Director Stefan Crets’ job to promote the practice and he believes that CSR programs can be a win-win for companies and the societies where they work.
Meg Stringer is a freelance reporter based in Brussels, Belgium. As well as reporting on EU development, she works with NGOs, think tanks and other clients on communications and fundraising. Meg's interest in development first began in Accra, Ghana, where she wrote grant applications for a community organization during her study abroad from Hamilton College in her native upstate New York. She owes her first job out of college to her experience at a Devex career fair in Boston. Later she attended Georgetown University for a Master's in Government, giving her a solid foundation in both American and European approaches to development.
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