Good business leaders know that a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) requires a strong foundation, one upon which a company can build and expand its commitment to every aspect of the organization.1 Companies that truly intend to incorporate CSR into their long-term strategy start by soliciting input from a large and diverse group of stakeholders, followed by a transparent process of implementation, commitment, and enforcement. Corporate social responsibility is more than just another policy; it’s a philosophy, capturing the essence of nemawashi, or “building strong roots” (Figure 4.1). CSR also demonstrates that a company is willing to commit the financial and human resources necessary to make it a reality, rather than just a talking point.
This chapter looks at sustainability and CSR from the perspective of a diverse constituency, including managers, employees, investors, government regulators, competitors, customers and clients, the community, and the environment. If you were a CEO, would you be willing to commit the time and money to incorporate CSR the right way in your company? Why might some businesses hesitate to use a nemawashi-style approach?