The question was asked a few days ago on a number of internet forums and on Twitter. Intel made mention of it on their blog as did a number of fellow tweeters (@FabianGPastor, @FRSIberoamerica). The DJSI does include US companies, although none of these leads any of the so-called “supersectors”. In the table attached, you can see the companies that headed these supersectors in 2010, in other words, sectors which cover two or three categories, can be seen. (For example, in the telecom supersector, fixed telephony and mobile telephony are cited as landline and mobile leaders)
Why has this happened? Without wishing to overstate the case, in my opinion there are a number of reasons which might explain how this situation has arisen.
- In the USA, CSR programmes are very closely related to the work of Charities. In fact, the first philanthropic movements started thus. To some extent this is normal, as the State covers very few social services, resulting in the need for private initiatives (such as, for example, the Salvation Army) have been very active in filling this gap.
- In the USA, unlike in continental Europe, ethical codes are overseen by the judiciary, not from CSR departments, which are generally part of larger Marketing, Human Resources, Communications or Quality Control departments. This has meant that the aspects related to integrated and ethical management are covered by Corporate Governance / Compliance Officer and not a CSR Manager, whose remit is more focused on defending the perception of a company by its stakeholders.
- This means that the English-speaking world tends to reject the expression “Responsibility” because it is associated with “Legal Responsibility”. We all know what impact appealing to law has in English-speaking countries in matters of insurance, claims, compliance etc.
- When one studies the DJSI, it is important to see what weight the three areas under examination (economic, social and environmental) have and understanding what lies behind them. In this Index, philanthropy and social action account for 3%, a tiny percentage of the total. Within the Telecommunications sector, which I know best, the distribution of this “weighting” is as follows:
- The economic dimension: 44%. Reference is made here to “how to be admitted”, limits and red lines. Aspects such as Corporate Governance (5%), risk and crisis management (6%), codes of conduct (6%), customer relations (10%), brand management (7%), privacy standards (5%) and innovation management (5%).
- The social dimension: 40%. Reference is made here to “relation systems” with non-customer stakeholders and the impact of the core business on society. This includes areas such as: working practices (5%), the development of human capital (5%), attracting and retaining talent (5%), suppliers (4%), stakeholder management (4%), philanthropic initiatives (3%), social balance (3%), digital inclusion (4%), the impact of telecom services on society (4%) and health and safety at work (3%).
- The environmental dimension: 16%. Reference is made here to environmental management systems and policies to combat climate change and energy efficiency. The following information is included: environmental policy (4%), eco-efficiency (5%), presentation of environmental reports (3%) and climate change strategy (4%).
In conclusion: I am of the opinion that American companies are not leading the DJSI because there are a basic rejection of CSR and a commitment from the outset to philanthropy, thus allowing European companies a certain initial advantage. I feel that as a result there is now a proliferation of other forms of CSR expression: sustainability and ESG are well situated to replace CSR as they eliminate the idea of “Responsibility”, a serious obstacle for those with an English-speaking mentality.
I will have to leave that, however, for another post.