The Social Purpose Continuum:
Changing the Lens, the Focus, Everything in Our Approach to CSR

For 25 years, I’ve developed CSR strategies. And now I see that CSR is becoming business as usual.

You’d think I’d be celebrating. But I’m not — because CSR has stalled.

This struck me in 2012 when I developed the Qualities of a Transformational Company for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and started tracking corporate innovation in CSR (see 38 case studies of transformation in action at CBSR’s website). That’s when I saw where we needed to be.

As identified by KPMG, World Economic Forum and others, CSR as practiced over the past decade has not realized the commercial or social benefits necessary to address the global mega-forces that will affect the ability of business and society to thrive in the medium to long term.

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Our pace is too slow. The change we are realizing is incremental when it needs to be transformational.

Leading businesses sense this limitation and are looking for a new type of CSR. They want to go beyond what I call “CSR everydayism,” to set their course on a path to social purpose. They want to go beyond value protection to value creation — to set and pursue corporate goals that resonate with employees, customers and communities, and that realize growth opportunities for their firm.

Social purpose continuumTo aid my clients and others on this journey I have created a Social Purpose Continuum. I am using this tool in education and strategy sessions to help leaders redefine their sense of what is possible.

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Feel free to use it — and provide your feedback. I will update this tool with new insights as I test-drive it with companies that aspire to transformational leadership.

As one of my clients said reviewing the tool, “This changes the lens. This changes the focus. This changes everything.”

Let’s keep pushing for the change we need.

This post first appeared on Coro Strandberg’s blog on February 6, 2015.

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