Reviews
Stephen Asbury and Richard Ball, Routledge (www.routledge.com), £34.99 paperback

The Practical Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility: Do the Right Thing

In The Practical Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the authors present the DTRT – “do the right thing” – model, which brings together six elements: legal requirements, health and safety, environmental sustainability, ethical trading, workforce rights and community effects. This model acts as a framework for the contents and is applied to the various case studies included in the book.

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The first three chapters provide a historical and theoretical introduction to CSR and readers who are familiar with the key concepts and principles may be tempted to skip through these chapters in search of more practical guidance. This starts to appear from chapter four, beginning with an interesting analysis of stakeholder expectations. As international management systems standards, such as ISO 14001 and the impending ISO 45001, increase their emphasis on the need to understand organisational context and managing the needs and expectations of interested parties, the book’s discussion of stakeholder management provides useful insights for safety and health professionals.

The authors consider how to ensure that CSR is not managed in isolation as a “pet project” and how it can be integrated into corporate strategy. They discuss a range of CSR opportunities using the DTRT model. They also adopt a devil’s advocate position by exploring the case against CSR and suggest ways to challenge sceptics who may not understand the wider business benefits of an effective CSR strategy.

Other key areas they cover include how to comply with reporting requirements, an outline of the opportunities for CSR within the supply chain and personal social responsibility, and the inclusion of practical steps that we can take as individuals to make a difference.

The book concludes by reflecting on the CSR initiatives of the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It explains that CSR and elements of the DTRT model were integral to the strategy and planning for the games, including legacy planning. CSR lessons from other major events are also covered, including safety and health concerns in the build-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

There are handy “test your thinking” exercises to reinforce key messages and 20 case studies. However, at times, it is debateable as to whether they relate closely to the central subject matter discussed in the chapters in which they appear. Overall though, the book provides a broad overview of CSR and the DTRT model helps to emphasise that CSR is far-reaching and touches on many aspects of business activity. Safety and health practitioners will find the material of interest, particularly those who have wider roles that encompass environment and sustainability and business ethics.

 

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Rob Cooling is director of health and safety, WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff in the Middle East and a member of IOSH Council.

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