“Corporate Social Responsibility”

Corporate Social Responsibility is a “corporate-aware” consciousness that is meant to keep a company in check with the environment, economy, and society. Examples of CSR are improving labor policies, reducing carbon footprints, incorporating environmentally beneficial practices, and volunteering in the community. Some of the largest corporations in the world have made incredible accomplishments in CSR. Johnson and Johnson hopes to produce 35% of its energy needs with renewable sources. Netflix and Spotify offer 52 weeks of paid parental time to their employees. Wells Fargo donates 1.5% of its annual revenue towards charity each year. The list goes on and on. These large corporations strive daily to make the lives of their employees and fellow human better. 

Or don’t they? 

Behind the humanitarian facade lies a dark reality. These corporate giants destroy thousands of lives before they save one. Their marketing strategy is to convince the modern consumer that doing business with them will result in a better world. One where the corporation is able to donate it’s wealth and resources toward the general population rather than it’s bottom line. 

Nestle and Verizon

Nestle is the largest beverage and food producer in the world. They own 2,000 companies in over 150 countries. 

Their website shows a great example of what CSR is. Several quotes from employees, consumers, and farmers can be found littered throughout their “Our Impact” tab. All praising Nestle and what is has done around the globe. 

One in particular is a quote by Patricia Siwajek (registered dietician and senior nutritionist, health & wellness expert, Nestle research). She says “We develop our products based on the latest research and technology to ensure that good nutrition is as good as it tastes. We do this by striking the right balance of making a product taste good and ensuring it has the optimal amounts of micronutrients. Because if children won’t eat our products, this is a missed opportunity to positively impact their lives through good nutrition”. This sticks out in particular because of the transgressions against children committed by Nestle. 

In 2018 the Changing Markets Foundation discovered that Nestle had been advertising their baby milk formula as “inspired by” or “closest to” actual breast milk. Breast milk can not be recreated in a lab and for this reason the World Health Organization prohibits advertising such as this for breast milk substitutes. 

CMF conducted a study that encompassed 70 baby formula products within the scope of 40 countries. It was found that Nestle often made contradictions in their nutritional advice. In South Africa Nestle had listed sucrose as an ingredient in the formula. Although the formula produced in Hong Kong and Brazil is free of sucrose. Nestle claims that a sucrose free formula is better for a baby’s health. Why, at the same time, would they sell formula with damaging ingredients in one country and not the other?

Additionally, the formula being sold in Hong Kong is being marketed as vanilla flavoring free because it again is better for the health of a child. Yet in the same area the formula is being sold with vanilla flavoring. Nestle totes their perfect image of CSR while disregarding the wellbeing of its customers

This is worrisome because Nestle claims its 2030 goal is to help 50 million children lead healthier lives. How can a company be trusted with the health of current and future children when in the past they have shown disregard for their health overall. It can be easily argued that the most important time in a child’s life is during the early developmental stage. 

Another excellent example of CSR breach is Verizon, one of the largest telecommunication network corporations in America. A quick look into their 2018 CSR report will lead you to a page that details their work in disaster relief. They brag about the millions of dollars that were donated to hurricane, earthquake, and wildfire victims over the past year. One quote even reads “Our credo tells us to run to a crisis, not away”.They continue on to say that they created and launched an Emergency Resource Center Hub. Which is meant to help first responders deal with critical situations quickly and more efficiently. But, during the Santa Clara wildfires quite the opposite was perpetuated by Verizon. 

While firefighters were mobilizing to fight the record breaking blaze, their internet speeds began to drop significantly. Several emails were sent directly to Verizon pleading them to stop throttling the network so firefighters could communicate quicker. After hours of waiting Verizon responded with a suggestion that they upgrade their current plan to a more expensive one. 

The Santa Clara Fire Department caved and paid the price so they could combat the seemingly endless fires. Verizon prioritized monetary gains over helping stop California’s largest fire in state history. Around 460,000 acres of land were ravaged by the inferno. 

A Verizon representative claimed “we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations…In this situation we should have lifted the speed restrictions when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer service mistake”. It is important to note that it took several emails to reach Verizon over the course of a few hours. Their “Emergency Resource Center Hub” proved to be worthless. First responders will all agree that minutes can make a difference in the outcome of an emergency. Who can say what firefighters could have done if they had been allowed to communicate easier during those critical moments.

 Verizon even dedicates an entire website to it’s disaster response efforts. It can not go without saying that there is credible proof they have done good without the need for economic gain. But the incident at hand should wake up consumers to the notion that the corporation does not have their best interests at heart. 

A corporation has the sole purpose of creating profit for the shareholders. It is a mission that is strongly enforced and it’s lust for money knows no bounds. They threaten the wellbeing of children with no remorse. A fire destroys thousands of lives and they shake down emergency workers in exchange for higher data speed. The largest corporations take much more than they give, like Johnson & Johnson who was ordered to pay $29 million in regards to them knowingly including asbestos in their talcum powder earlier this year. Or Netflix, who has been accused of fostering a toxic work environment with harsh layoffs and employee treatment. Even Wells Fargo created millions of accounts without it’s clients permission. It is important to remember that we, as consumers control these corporations. We control the market with our buying power and have the ability to create change. 

  1. https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/blog/corporate-16-brands-doing-corporate-social-responsibility-successfully
  2. https://www.nestle.com/csv
  3. http://changingmarkets.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Based_on_science_FINAL.pdf
  4. http://www.businessfor2030.org/nestle
  5. https://www.verizon.com/about/sites/default/files/corporate-responsibility-report/2018/index.html
  6. https://www.verizon.com/about/news/emergency-resource-center
  7. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/22/640815074/verizon-throttled-firefighters-data-as-mendocino-wildfire-raged-fire-chief-says
  8. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/14/jury-orders-johnson–johnson-to-pay-29-million-in-cancer-trial.html
  9. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/10/working-at-netflix-sounds-absolutely-terrifying
  10. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/12/28/wells-fargo-fake-accounts-settlement/2432088002/

Patrick O’Connor


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