One of my passions is learning about different CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs and how they impact their respective fields. The imperative to collaborate across fields has become apparent in recent years, and I enjoy studying how these efforts come about in a global context. CSR is an integral tool for sustainability. A recent article published on CSR Europe’s website discusses the future of how collaboration among major players in the NGO field will drive sustainability. BMW is leading the path for this with a collaboration with CSR Europe called “Drive Sustainability.” The article I’m referring to is entitled, “Collaboration: Lack of trust is the main challenge to overcome,” where Ferdinand Geckeler, the Sustainability Manager at BMW is interviewed to discuss his perspective on how collaboration in the auto industry (and across industries) can ensure there is a collective effort for sustainability across NGOs.
As the article asserts, the largest barrier to collaboration is a lack of trust, which is usually justified across industries by the concept of marketplace competition. It makes sense (in theory) that NGOs do not want to share too much about their proprietary works, which would cut into competition. Geckeler thinks this trust issue can be overcome, and I believe this to also be true: Geckeler proposes that the trust issue across industries can be overcome by adhering to a common good (and a common ground) as there are common issues that competitors share together. For example, climate change will affect all NGO competitors in the auto industry (and across industries).
There are significant drawbacks, but they aren’t insurmountable. As Geckeler states in the article, “The main drawback is that our economic system in Europe does not recognize sustainability. I think that we need to add legislation like a supply chain transparency regulation to improve the system step by step, in order to tune the economic machine in a sustainable way.” Policy change in Europe and a shared understanding that sustainability is a shared issue will be setting us all on the right path to ensuring that we are globally on target to reach the UN’s Global Goals by 2030. If this is modeled well by the EU, the US most certainly should follow suit as as there is a shared imperative for sustainability and fears related to competition in the marketplace should not be the barrier for NGOs to collaborate. The program that BMW is leading in collaboration with CSR Europe is setting the stage for how the world can begin standardizing their CSR practices, and the enormity of the good that can do is invaluable.