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Friday, August 13, 2010

The World Guide to CSR

The World Guide to CSR A country by country Analysis of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

Edited by Wayne Visser and Nick Tolhurst

Published by Greenleaf Publishing , 2010, ISBN 978-1-906093-38-9

This review first appeared on on 13th August 2010


The World Guide to CSR is the first book to provide comparable national profiles that describe the evolution and practice of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) for 58 countries and 5 global regions. Each regional and national profile includes key information about the relevant CSR history, country-specific issues, trends, research and leading organizations. The purpose of the book is to give CSR professionals (including managers, consultants, academics and NGOs focusing on the social, environmental and ethical responsibilities of business) a quick reference guide to CSR in different regional and national contexts. The book introduction can be downloaded here.


Planning your vacation to Finland? You might like to know that Fortum, Kesko, Neste Oil and Nokia are leading-light corporates practicing CSR in that country. Want to keep up with the CSR news whilst travelling in Austria? The Glocalist offers a daily online newspaper, weekly digital magazine and monthly print magazine. Taking a business trip to Tanzania? You might find it worth consideration that Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and faces a mature, generalized HIV pandemic. The mining sector leads CSR in Tanzania. Want to study CSR in Saudi Arabia? King Saud University will be happy to accommodate you. Looking to set up a CSR consulting practice in Sierra Leone? CSR there is "far from being institutionalized" so you might have a good chance of pioneering the field. Hard of hearing and looking for a CSR job in the Philippines ? Lamoiyan Corporation is a faith-based CSR business focused on providing equal employment opportunities for the hearing impaired. Looking for a milk supplier in Pakistan? Try The Dairy Project. This is the fifth largest producer of milk in the world, with 1,066 trained rural women (as at end 2008) in 594 villages trained as lady livestock workers. The point is that wherever you are in the world, the World Guide to CSR will prime you on what is most important to know about CSR. 58 countries are profiled in detailed analyses which contain a contextual country background, priority issues, trends, legislation and codes, organizations promoting CSR, key company case studies and educational establishments and programs. The book is headed up by 5 regional profiles of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East which draw out the regional key themes according to the same structure used for the local profiles. What more could you want?

The impressive list of contributors to this volume, 87 in all, are the crème de la crème of CSR knowledge and include leading academics, business people and practitioners from all over the global village. The country profiles are of a exceedingly high quality, offering a local flavor and sometimes even a little local language (tzedakah, the Hebrew word for charity; "sanpo yoshi" – "three-way good" in Japan; choregia, the ancient form of sponsorship in Greece; "ubuntu" in Southern Africa, which relates to community culture, to name but a few examples). The profiles are superbly edited to give consistency of scope and depth, country by country.

Why is this book useful? It serves as a start-point for any study of CSR anywhere in the world, as each profile contains an impressive list of links and references. It is a learning aid because the local case studies provide outlines of the key CSR activities by key corporates - the leading edge of CSR around the world. It serves as a guide for those wanting to develop their own CSR programs. If, for example, you are an SME in Mauritius, a tiny island of 1,865m2 in the Indian Ocean, you have three web-links which can direct you to CSR-advancing organizations, five corporations who you can observe practicing CSR and a summary of the key trends which will inspire you to add your name to the 87% of SME's engaged in philanthropic activities in that country.

Nick Tolhurst, co-editor, says the World Guide to CSR provides a "timely and intriguing glimpse across the richness of global business cultures" and this it does. But don't look to this guide to provide you with a league table or global benchmark of CSR business practices around the world. There are no indicators of CSR practices that might be directly comparable country by country – percentage of GDP which is generated by CSR-aligned businesses, number of companies reporting on CSR, opinion surveys or sector leadership comparisons, for example – and no analysis of global trends drawn from the individual profiles. However, the wealth of information this book contains is quite astonishing. I think it should be sold together with Lonely Planet and Fodor travel guides, and prior reading should be a condition of obtaining an entry visa to any of the 58 profiled countries!

Wayne Visser, co-editor and prolific CSR teacher, thought-leader and writer, penned the forward for this book, saying that we are at a "crucial juncture in the evolution of CSR" . This book serves to shed light on how that juncture is manifested around the world, and perhaps, to indicate that we have critical mass which may just be the tipping point we need to elevate CSR to the level of compelling business strategy and practice world-wide.

The only thing missing in this book? A list of socially responsible ice-cream parlors in each country.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

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