Editor's Blog

I hate to say, 'I told you so, but..'

It seems the wormery owners have turned. By that I mean the corporate world's brief flirtation with a social conscience has already begun to founder on the altar of fiscal expediency.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and green issues came almost bottom of the priority list in a poll conducted at industry exhibition EIBTM in Barcelona in December. The survey involved 174 industry professionals – 42 per cent agency, 35 per cent suppliers and 23 per cent corporate and confirmed what was (to a curmudgeon like me, anyway) always obvious: shareholder interests and philanthropy are uneasy bedfellows when the going gets tough.

Top rated priority was ROI while CSR/green issues came 8th out of nine in the rankings. So what happened to all that fuzzy, warm feeling and fascination with CSR? I was criticised at a recent Scottish Business Tourism Conference for using that phrase to describe the CSR agenda but I regret to say the figures do not lie: business leaders cannot afford to spend money on CSR projects while they are making losses. The reason is simple: shareholders are greedy - that's why they buy shares. If they were philanthropists they would give their money to charity, not invest it in the stock exchange!

In the past years of boom, boom, boom, it was all very well to be seen to be a caring, sharing company and lots of business jumped on the bandwagon - but now the wheels have come off. Now we are entering a year of bust in the events industry, CSR is the first victim - it was always going to be. How sad but predictable. The road to the labour exchange will be littered with the bodies of former CSR professionals.

But I do have a positive tailpiece for you: M&IT's charity on-line auction in aid of Save The Children goes live on January 26 at www.meetpieauction.com. Your bid will be greatly appreciated!

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