Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important in today’s business world. Discover what some famous businessmen and thinkers have had to say about the subject with this collection of memorable CSR quotes.
But before we jump into the quotes:
What is CSR?
Corporate social responsibility is the commitment of companies and corporations to causes they deem important to their values. This can include initiatives such as investing in companies dedicated to tackling environmental causes, reducing their carbon footprint, engaging in charity work, advocating for human rights, supporting social movements, and many other causes.
Why is CSR Important?
In modern times, the average employee demands more from their place of work. They are also much more aware of the world, with a statistically greater concern that products they are buying are socially conscious of all kinds of issues, from the environment to social movement.
It's also proven that millennials are more likely to choose a career (and a place of work) based on their own morals and principles. The same goes for the consumer. So what does that mean for companies?
It means a new era for social responsibility (although some companies have been setting themselves apart for many years). These days, corporate social responsibility reflects the global mindset. No longer is corporate social responsibility used only to please stakeholders, it is now an important factor for everyone from the shareholders to the consumer, the supplier, and each individual employee.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Quotes
Whichever way you spin it, corporate social responsibility is a crucial part of business ownership in modern times. Listed below are some CSR quotes from some of the thought leaders of our time:
1. Sustainability includes how you run your business, and my bottom line includes how you treat your people. Sustainability starts with your staff.
- Tom Douglas
2. A business is successful to the extent that it provides a product or a service that contributes to happiness in all of its forms.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
3. To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
- Douglas Adams
4. Because every exchange is always a relationship, to get the most while giving the least is unjust, unethical, antisocial, abusive, perhaps 'evil.' Yet predatory commerce ("the free market" as it is euphemistically called) operates regularly on the principle of 'get the most and pay the least’.
- James Hillman
5. Never deceive others, in business or in life. In 1995, I was deceived by four companies - four companies that are now closed. A company cannot go far by deceit.
- Jack ma
6. The price of greatness is responsibility.
- Winston Churchill
7. To let oneself be bound by a duty from the moment you see it approaching is part of the integrity that alone justifies responsibility.
- Dan Hammarsjkšld
8. You must believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.
- Marianne Williamson
9. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.
- Paul Newman
10. ‘Comply’ is not a vision.
- Ray Anderson
11. Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.
- Jochen Zeitz
12. For organizations to become truly sustainable we believe it is essential to create a new organization model: a more cooperative leader, a new way for people to cooperate inside the organization and a new way for organizations to be measured by society.
- Miguel Reynolds Brandão
13. Corporate social responsibility is measured in terms of businesses improving conditions for their employees, shareholders, communities, and environment. But moral responsibility goes further, reflecting on the need for corporations to address fundamental ethical issues such as inclusion, dignity, and equality.
- Klaus Schwab
14. Campaigns against corporations have led them to take greater care that their goods are not produced under unacceptable working conditions for starvation wages. All of us, by the decisions we make about how we live and work and travel and consume help to shape an environment. To think and act morally, to do what is right because it is right, influence others; it begins to create a climate of opinion; good like evil, is infectious. We do not have to accept the unacceptable. The only thing that makes social or economic trends inevitable is the belief that they are. The unfolding drama of the 21st Century is one of which we are the co-writers of the script.
- Rabbi Jonathon Sacks
15. Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails.
- Rockett Batt Spokesperson
16. A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
- Henry Ford
17. When the wind blows there are those that build walls and then there are those that build windmills.
- Responsible Business Summit 2013
18. In just about every gangster movie there is a scene where the mob boss says, 'Hey, I’m just a businessman.'
- William Hageman
19. It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.
- Sir Josiah Stamp
20. The reason people blame things on the previous generation is that there’s only one other choice.
- Doug Larson
21. The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.
- Robert Swan
22. Companies not interested in sustainable development issues will not survive long.
- Malcolm Brinded
23. Sustainable development is a fundamental break that's going to reshuffle the entire deck. There are companies today that are going to dominate in the future simply because they understand that.
- François-Henri Pinault
24. Our consumers are very sensitive to social and environmental issues... We have actively engaged with them on these issues in the last ten years, and they have become very aware as consumers. They especially ask for information on environmental policies, workers' rights and product safety.
- Walter Dondi
25. CSR can be very hard for employees to relate to if we don't make it tangible to their everyday working lives.
- Responsible Business Summit
26. A little integrity is better than any career.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
27. Integrity has no need of rules.
- Albert Camus
28. There is no right way to do the wrong thing. Ethical choices sometimes require sacrifice. This may not always lead to positive feelings for the decision-maker, but it should always lead to positive feelings for those affected by the decision-maker.
- Christopher Gilbert
29. Do nothing that you would not be happy to have an unfriendly but intelligent reporter write about on the front page of a newspaper. Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.
- Warren Buffett
30. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
- Eleanor Roosevelt
31. The best way to predict the future is to create it.
- Peter Drucker
32. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
- Howard Zinn
33. We have to make sustainable living convenient, sustainable business profitable, and sustainable change fashionable.
- Wayne Visser
34. All company bosses want a policy on corporate social responsibility. The positive effect is hard to quantify, but the negative consequences of a disaster are enormous.
- Noreena Hertz
35. Corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it... because it is good for our business.
- Niall Fitzerald
36. CSR isn't a particular programme, it's what we do every day, maximising positive impact and minimising negative impact.
- Responsible Business Summit (2013)
37. A man does what he must- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of global obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality
- John F. Kennedy
38. If you believe in unlimited quality and act in all your business dealings with total integrity, the rest will take care of itself.
- Frank Perdue
39. The primary aim of business is not to earn profit but to serve people- the customers and society at large- to fulfill their needs!
- Dr. Vivencio Ballano
40. Integrity is a reputational advantage that others will weigh in subsequent dealings.
- Warren Buffett
41. We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
- George Bernard Shaw
42. The future will be green, or not at all.
- Jonathan Porritt
43. The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least try not to defy them.
- Paul Hawken
44. Engaging in social business is beneficial to a company because it leverages on business competencies to address social issues, involves one-time investment with sustainable results, and produces other positive effects such as employee motivation and improved organizational culture.
- Muhammad Yunus
45. In order to have a meaningful impact, companies should value diversity and inclusion from Day One.
- Christine Tsai
46. In my view the successful companies of the future will be those that integrate business and employees' personal values. The best people want to do work that contributes to society with a company whose values they share, where their actions count and their views matter.
- Jeroen van der Veer
47. Loyalty is to the values of the company, not to the company. If there are no values, there is no loyalty.
- Responsible Business Summit (2013)
48. A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.
- Albert Camus
49. The strongest thing that any human being has going for itself is its own integrity and its own heart. As soon as you start veering away from that, the solidity that you need to stand up for what you believe in, just isn't going to be there.
- Herbie Hancock
50. Economics without ethics is a caricature. Ethics without economics is a fairy tale.
- Jakub Bożydar
51. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
- Warren Buffett
52. You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
- Abraham Lincoln
53. Being a good human being is good business.
- Paul Hawken
54. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
- Aldo Leopold
55. Hiring the wrong people is the fastest way to undermine a sustainable business.
- Kevin J. Donaldson
56. The environmental crisis arises from a fundamental fault: our systems of production- in industry, agriculture, energy and transportation- essential as they are, make people sick and die.
- Barry Commoner
57. Business has a responsibility beyond its basic responsibility to its shareholders; a responsibility to a broader constituency that includes its key stakeholders: customers, employees, NGOs, government - the people of the communities in which it operates.
- Courtney Pratt
58. A new model of Heroic capitalism based on principle driven, free-market entrepreneurship deserves a central place in business ethics thought and action.
- Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
59. Six essential qualities that are the key to success include sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom, and charity.
- Dr. William Menninger
60. If your client has a problem with ethics, a signed contract may not be enough to protect you from expensive litigation.
- Paul E. Casey
61. The real threat to business is from within, from poor ethical standards and lack of integrity that can do incalculable harm. History has proven repeatedly that business ethics, shared value, and corporate governance determine the longevity of an enterprise. What is required is ‘capacity building’ towards deeper ethical behaviour. Employees must know compliance is not a tick-box activity and they ought to witness their organisations transcend compliance and infuse ethical practices into everyday action. They need to be empowered to thwart unethical action at work and appreciate the fact that business integrity is directly related to the future of the company, their families, and that it securitises their livelihoods.
- Azim Premji
62. Look at the word responsibility- ‘response-ability’- the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on a feeling.
- Steven Covey
63. There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.
- Marshall Mcluhan
64. (On Climate Change) What if it’s all a hoax and we’ve created a better world for nothing?
- Naomi Klein
65. Sustainability is about ecology, economy, and equity.
- Ralph Bicknese
66. Don’t be insecure about aiming to be a small business. Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small, should be proud.
- Jason Fried
67. It is vital that a company’s culture shows a willingness to invest in employee wellbeing with no stigma or penalty attached to prioritizing good health.
- Frans van Houten
68. The brands that will be big in the future will be those that tap into the social changes that are taking place.
- Sir Michael Perry
69. Business ethics has always had problems that are distinct from those of other professions, such as medicine, law, engineering, dentistry, or nursing.
- Peter Singer
70. Those who climb the corporate ladder of lies and deception will sooner or later fall off the shaky steps.
- Khang Kijarro Nguyen
71. Eventually we have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.
- Hubert Selby Jr.
72. I have always been an advocate and was, in my last job at M&S, a supporter of the Al Gore dictum that a sustainable business can be a profitable business. We were the first sizable company in the UK to prove that was the case.
- Stuart Rose
73. It is not possible to have a strong, functioning business in a world of increasing inequality, poverty, and climate change.
- Paul Polman
74. Greater transparency is an unstoppable force. It is the product of growing demands from everybody with an interest in any corporation - its stakeholder web - and of rapid technological change, above all the spread of the Internet, that makes it far easier for firms to supply information, and harder for them to keep secrets.
Firms now know that their internal emails may one day become public knowledge, for instance, and many big companies must coexist with independent websites where employees can meet anonymously to air their grievances. With greater transparency will come greater accountability and better corporate behaviour. Rather than engage in futile resistance to it, firms should actively embrace transparency and rethink their values and generally get in better shape.
- Don Tapscott
75. Corporate executives and business owners need to realize that there can be no compromise when it comes to ethics, and there are no easy shortcuts to success. Ethics need to be carefully sewn into the fabric of their companies.
- Vivek Wadhwa
76. Six essential qualities that are the key to success include sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom, and charity.
- Dr. William Menninger
77. The attention of a company must be on the welfare of its consumers, not on the draining of their wallets.
- Abhijit Naskar
78. Lead by example. Don’t ask folks to do something that you aren’t willing to do.
- Rosalind Brewer
79. The time is always right to do what is right.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
80. The goal should be to build a sustainable lifestyle business that does good for employees and customers- and that steadily builds wealth.
- Vivek Wadhwa
81. Economists treat economics as if it is a pure science divorced from the facts of life. The result of this false accountancy is a willful confusion under cover of which industry wreaks its havoc scot-free and ignores the environmental cost.
- Vivienne Westwood
82. People are going to want, and be able, to find out about the citizenship of a brand, whether it is doing the right things socially, economically and environmentally.
- Mike Clasper
83. Doing the right thing doesn’t automatically bring success. But compromising ethics almost always leads to failure.
84. The glue that holds all relationships together, including the relationship between the leader and the led, is trust, and trust is based on integrity.
- Brian Tracy
85. Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will.
- John D. MacDonald
86. Forward thinking companies that adapt positively to the sustainable business agenda will be at the forefront of resource productivity, reducing waste and of environmental reporting. They and their management teams make things happen ahead of their competitors
- Michael Meacher
87. Not long ago the concerns of ecologists were as irrelevant to business planners as those of ethicists are today. "Green" has gone from being a disparagement to becoming a badge that no smart company would risk being without. Ethics are similarly en route to becoming a strategic imperative.
- John Dalla Costa
88. Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.
- Potter Stewart
89. Organizations need to undergo fundamental changes, both in order to adapt to the new business environment and to become ecologically sustainable.
- Fritjof Capra
90. I admire companies that give back to communities. It is an absolute essential for organizations to watch, mitigate, and improve their impact on the environment, people, communities, their health and overall well-being. But this is a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition.
- Shiv Nadar
91. We know that the profitable growth of our company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our communities across the world. And we know it is in our best interests to contribute to the sustainability of those communities.
- Travis Engen
92. Ethics must remain at the top of an organization. It is a leadership issue and the chief executive must set the example.
- Edward Hennessy
93. I believe that companies, doing business in a responsible and sustainable way, can help raise the quality of life and standards of living in some of the poorest parts of the world.
- Antony Burgmans
94. More brands are waking up to their social responsibility and doing good work through cause marketing campaigns. Yet too many still go about it the wrong way. I mean 'wrong' in two senses. Firstly, they are marketing ineffectively, and secondly, as a consequence, their positive social impact is not maximized.
- Simon Mainwaring
95. Corporate social responsibility is not just about managing, reducing and avoiding risk, it is about creating opportunities, generating improved performance, making money and leaving the risks far behind.
- Sunil Misser
96. I believe social responsibility begins with a strong, competitive company. Only a healthy enterprise can improve and enrich the lives of people and their communities.
- Jack Welch
97. Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center. We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking.
- Michael Porter
98. I think that today, more so than ever, corporate responsibility is the best strategic as well as financial path that most businesses can follow. For most businesses there are both compelling reasons to be responsible and compelling statistics that validate that responsible businesses do better according to traditional financial metrics. Of course, how you define “responsible” is somewhat of a conundrum.
- Jeffery Hollender
99. We need government and business to work together for the benefit of everyone. It should no longer be just about typical “corporate social responsibility” where the “responsibility” bit is usually the realm of a small team buried in a basement office – now it should be about every single person in a business taking responsibility to make a difference in everything they do, at work and in their personal lives.
- Richard Branson
As we draw to a close on our list of top CSR quotes, we’re reminded of the importance of corporate social responsibility and the duty that businesses have to improve the world around them. Hopefully this list of quotes has given you some inspiration to make your own business or workplace a force for good.
If your business is ready to get started with its own CSR initiative, we would love to hear from you so don't hesitate to reach out!