The four-day CSR Communication Conference in Lüneburg, at the Leuphana University has been organized for the sixth time. The conference included a PhD seminar, 45 presentations and 75 participants.
For the sixth time we organized the CSR Communication Conference in Lüneburg, at the Leuphana University. The four-day conference, that started with a PhD seminar with a total of 11 PhD students, from all parts of Europe. The conference with 45 presentations and 75 participants started Wednesday night with an opening speech and a keynote by Juliana Reinecke, of the Said Business School, University of Oxford.
CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, has gained in attention from organizations, though they might label it also as ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and some refer it as that the company has a purpose. The call to protect the environmental, ban fossil fuels, to limit waste and limit the use of plastics have become more than a PR story as long-time research has shown. ‘Proof your contribution’, ‘practice what you preach’ are advises for all organizations that are building CSR policies. Seeing CSR only as a PR show certainly will backfire at the organization, as has been shown for a long time. Research showed repeatedly that employees are more happier working in a company that embraces CSR, clients love companies more when they have effective CSR programs, and the company has even higher revenues when they endorsed CSR. The other side, pretending having a CSR program, referred to as greenwashing or window-dressing (with other terms as pink washing, blue washing, etcetera) can seriously harm the reputation of a firm, and, as Coombs and Holladay (2015) presented at CSRComII, increases the risks of a crisis.
Topics at the 2022 conference included Artificial Intelligence used for composing Sustainability Reports, Corporate Activism, that reflects organizations taking a position on societal issues, like Black Live Matters, environmental issues and recently the ban on abortions in many US states. The top paper selected was presented by colleagues of the University of Ljubljana on the internal aspect of CSR, the so-called aspirational talks, that sometimes discourage employees instead of encouraging them.
The keynote of Lance Bennet from Washington State U. (USA) dealt on CSR and disinformation. Bennet is well known for his seminal work with Steven Livingstone on disinformation. Bennet discussed the dangers of the institutional crisis in many western democracies. Parties like the conservatives in the UK, the republicans in the US and right-wing populist parties in many European countries are deliberately criticizing institutions like science. The think tanks, the Koch brothers and all Murdoch titles finance the breakdown of civil society, that can lead to disastrous outcomes. We must act now to fight the constant flow of disinformation, fake news, and accusations and reinforce the trust in public institutions and science. The first step is to find ways in fighting disinformation by regulating big tech.
CSRComVI at Leuphana U. was a great experience. The local organizers did a marvellous job and set the bar for the next conference on a high level. CSRComVII will be held at University of Bath, by the Centre for Business and Society in two years’ time. Sign up for the newsletter at CSR-Com.org, where the conference proceedings will be published soon, and receive information on the call for papers on also for the special issue that will be composed and will be published in Management Communication Quarterly. We are already looking forward for the seventh edition.