Is CSR Dead? How To Embed Social Value Through ESG

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Is CSR dead?

Over the last 20 years we have heard endless terms used to describe businesses that pursue profit responsibly: CSR; CR; CR and Sustainability; Ethical Business; Responsible Business; ESG; Social Impact; Purpose.

But are all these the same thing, just rebranded?

Less than 50 years ago business leaders were encouraged to think that greed was good: they should put profit first and the state would provide for those less fortunate. (Look up Milton Freedman if you don’t believe me!)

But long gone are the days of money-making being a business’s sole purpose. Arguably, thanks to modern working practices and legal frameworks (let alone consumer pressure and the media) no business would dare operate purely to make profits.

So, if businesses can now only make profit if they are seen to do it with ‘purpose’, have we in fact come full circle? All businesses understand the need to do more than simply generate cash for their shareholders. So why do we still need to have a CSR industry to make this stuff happen if purpose is now so finely weaved into the fabric of a business' DNA?

We will be discussing all of this along with a stellar line-up of experts including Nadia Al Yafai (Head of Mutuality & Impact, Royal London) and Emma Cooke (Head of Citizenship, Herbert Smith Freehills).


Nadia Al Yafai is Head of Mutuality & Impact at Royal London Group, the largest mutual life insurance, pensions, and investment company in the UK. She leads on the Mutuality strategy, social impact and community agenda across the UK with a focus on driving social innovation and financial resilience. Nadia also works alongside the Strategy division to develop and drive the wider purpose agenda. She is on the Board of Directors of the CR&S professional body, ICRS (Institute of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability) and believes now is the time for CR&S professions to move beyond a ‘seat at the table’ to ‘owning the table’.

Emma Cooke is the Head of Responsible Business at Herbert Smith Freehills, leading across a range of responsible business aspects globally. She has led the firm’s citizenship strategy since 2013, and drives its current priorities: climate change, human rights, and community investment. She is passionate about the role businesses can play in driving change that creates an impact, making a real difference to people and places. She is a trained coach and has recently completed her MBA with Cranfield Business School. Emma holds various external positions including Chair of a homeless charity, Julian House.

Join us to consider whether the CSR department is dead, has been reborn, or is simply now part of corporate culture.
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