Many people use CSR and Sustainability interchangeably, when there are some clear and definitive differences that show the two terms are not synonymous. Simply put, Corporate Social Responsibility is the task of balancing current stakeholder interests, by implementing initiatives that improve wide reaching and operational impacts on communities. Conversely, Sustainability is a course of action that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – accurately described by the World Commission on Environment & Development’s Our Common Future, published in 1987.
An article in the Canadian Huffington Post Online, discusses this definition debarkle, and explains the relationship between these two terms really well. It’s important to know the difference, and to understand how businesses can have a CSR strategy as well as a separate Sustainability strategy. The article closes by saying you can be responsible or sustainable, but not both. Sustaining People agrees with a lot of what is extolled in this piece, but maybe there is a way to marry the two together; sustainability strategy can be used to inform CSR initiatives about the potential future risks, so that current action doesn’t hamper ongoing sustainability efforts.
If you would like to know more and better inform your own CSR or Sustainability experience, you can read the full article here.