Nobody said it would be easy…

2013-07-26 12.13.44Thankfully George Kell, Exec Director of the UN Global Compact, recognises that the name is not important:

Regardless of whether you call it CSR, corporate responsibility, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) or sustainability, a common understanding is emerging around the world: a company’s long-term financial success goes hand in hand with its record on social responsibility, environmental stewardship and corporate ethics.

He also goes on to outline the ‘5 trends that show corporate responsibility is here to stay’.   This resonates with an Institute of Directors post last year by Andrea Rannard (Four Trends in CSR) and should fill us with confidence that the global desire for greater responsibility and compassion for others and our environment is reaching a critical mass.

But lest we breathe a sigh of relief, slap the dust from our hands and say ‘our work hear is done’, Chi-Pong Wong, posting on Triple Pundit, demonstrates why we must continue to remain vigilant.  His evidence shows that CSR is not necessarily, at the moment, the difference between success and failure for those corporations that we look to for leadership.

The emergence of CSR, its importance to consumers and, increasingly, to employees (Andrea Rannard, Cone Communications), tells us that these values are here to stay.  We – the people – want to use our privilege to consume in ways that express our growing frustration with the state of our environment and our society.  But of course, it is never going to be smooth or indeed easy and profit will, for now, have primacy on the triple bottom line.

Therefore Education for Social Responsibility or Education for Sustainability – again, call it what you will – has an increasingly significant role to play in our approach to learning and teaching.  There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Teachers will continue to come into the profession with  personal values that are contemporary to issues of social responsibility and the environment
  2. Our pupils live in a world with an ever-sharpening focus placed on people and planet and they must carry with them the knowledge, skills and values to play a part in accelerating the change

If we want to further the trends in CSR that have been identified and appear to be here to stay, then we must, within schools, embrace the changes that are occurring and drive them forward.  Schools have been (or should have been) places that enable and empower people to develop the attributes that make them more effective and positive contributors to the wider world.  We know our responsibility is to the young people in our care, but we must adapt this responsibility to reflect the the changes that they will face and to make sense of the complex world that they inhabit.

Thankfully, the National College have revisited the principles of leading and managing Sustainable Schools and renewed understanding of their benefits.  Through these principles we have the tools to shape the values of future generations to both meet the complex challenges effectively and shape the society of which they will be a part.

No one said it would be easy, but trends, by nature, are dynamic, moving and changing, and Social Responsibility – in education or in the corporate world – is one that will stay.

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