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Intel joins debate over value of corporate sustainability agendas

Posting in Sustainability

Tech giant suggests sustainability and social responsibility should be fully baked into executive management priorities.

Last week, I blogged about the increasingly heated debate sparked by a Wall Street Journal editorial suggesting that corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts are misguided. That article suggested that public interests would be best served if executives just stick to their core focus, making shareholders happy.

Well, now Intel's corporate social responsibility and sustainability team has weighed in suggesting that the article is another great reminder that we SHOULD NOT treat sustainability and social responsibility separately. They should be achieved by making these two missions a core part of mainstream investing and business management, writes Suzanne Fallender, Intel's director of CSR strategy and communications.

Fallender writes:

"While we seem to have more agreement than in the past on the conceptual value that CSR can create, we still have significant gaps 'down in the weed' at the operational level. The reality is that many people out there in Corporate America and Wall Street today who share [the author] Dr. Karnani's view. Why? Because we still need to become more sophisticated in how we translate high-level strategic value into quantified value and how we systematically quantify and measure impacts to our companies, to our investments and to society."

I think it's worth noting that Intel has a board level committee on sustainability, although it initially resisted doing this.

I am sure this debate will continue. Indeed, there's a video webcast on the topic sponsored by Fenton scheduled for next Friday, Sept. 17. The panel was gathered specifically to discuss the Wall Street Journal article, "The Case Against Social Responsibility." Participants include a number of journalists specializing in corporate social responsibility issues along with Bob Corcoran, vice president of corporate citizenship and president and chairman of the GE Foundation; Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact and Dave Stangis, vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for Campbell Soup. The author of the Wall Street Journal article, Aneel Karnani, the associate professor of strategy from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure