Philanthropy and CSR are quite different things

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Sir, I choked on my breakfast muesli at some of the comments under the headline “Is it ever too early to do good?” (Millennial v Boomer, Executive Appointments, June 18).

Brynne Herbert recommends the Founders Forum for Good benchmark of donating 2 per cent of the proceeds of the sale of a business to charity as “an easy way to embed corporate social responsibility (CSR) into . . . building a company”, while Mrs Moneypenny notes that the Founders pledge and “CSR was the last thing on my mind” when starting her company.

Philanthropy by founders and others who have made money is highly commendable, but it is a mistake to conflate it with corporate responsibility, social or otherwise.

The Quaker chocolate manufacturers of a couple of hundred years ago and Henry Ford both knew that decent working conditions and wages were not only responsible but good for business. Embedding principles such as those of the UN Global Compact on human rights, working conditions the environment and anti-corruption is very different from philanthropy. Both have their place. There may be discussion as to when the best time might be for entrepreneurial owners to think about giving away some of any gains, but it is absolutely never too early to build a consideration of the impact and utility of your product or service on society and the environment into the fabric of your enterprise and to consider whether the human and physical aspects of the production process are indeed responsible.

Considering the benefits or otherwise of your product and processes on society and the environment is not philanthropy, it is the foundation of a good business.

Mark Moody-Stuart

London E1, UK

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