Companies are increasingly finding that the boundaries between public and private responsibilities are unclear. Many CSR challenges flow directly from weak or poor governance, or from a lack of clarity about how to address questions of global significance. Appropriate business efforts to address topics ranging from climate change and labor standards to bribery and corruption are more likely to be successful where effective public governance is present. Indeed, true sustainable economic growth is more likely where governance mechanisms function effectively.
We have worked with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and numerous companies to generate increased business attention to this dilemma. BSR and WEF have collaborated with 15 companies participating in WEF's Global Corporate Citizenship Initiative to develop support for private sector action on this topic. This initiative aims to raise awareness of the dimensions of this issue and its critical link to sustainable economic development, its importance to business, and examples of action steps business can take to contribute to more effective public governance. Through global dialogues and publications, BSR and WEF have generated support for further business action in 2008 and beyond. This initiative is evidence that our research and development activities are effective in illuminating emerging issues and solutions for the business community.
This effort is intended to increase business awareness of public governance as well as promote business efforts to work alone and in partnership to improve governance. Our goal in this work is to help create conditions in which companies’ CSR efforts can be more effective. It is our sense, and that of WEF, that these efforts can strengthen conditions for economic growth, create opportunities to increase public-private partnerships that build systematic solutions to sustainability challenges, and clarify how multi-stakeholder initiatives can maximize their potential through accountable governance structures.