Developing Platforms for Social Change: The New CSR Movement?

Published on March 24th, 2011 | by

I wasn’t planning on following up on last week’s article, “Twitter and Corporate Social Responsibility”, nor was I really considering taking the CSR conversation in this direction.  However I saw a video the other day on Mashable which was an interview of venerable Apple evangalist and venture capitalist veteran Guy Kawasaki at South By Southwest Festival. The interview itself was slightly awkward and Kawasaki used what was probably some unnecessary description throughout (consider yourself warned). But, interestingly and almost organically, he commented on something that I briefly touched on last week and that was how social media in and of itself is basically a platform for social change.  In other words, companies such as Twitter and Facebook in a sense are not engaging in CSR, but in a way, actually ARE CSR.

Now, I don’t want to get to abstract here, but at around the 9:30 minute mark of the interview after mentioning that his dad was a politician and he would never want to do that, the interviewer asks what the role of this new tech movement is as far as improving society goes. Kawasaki mentions the recent role of Facebook and Twitter concerning the regime changes in the Middle East and then follows that up with some interesting points.

Video can be found here

He first states, “I don’t know if the only way to make the world a better place is to start a non-profit or make a bunch of money and give it away.” And then follows that up with, “people at Facebook and Twitter are democratizing technology such that the people can make social change”. I agree with both of the sentiments. Although the last statement, “you can do good and make good too (agree)” and that “Apple is doing good and making good (disagree-see my numerous articles on Apple supply chain problems)” is more of a mixed bag. Of course Kawasaki was instrumental in the return of Apple to the forefront of technology so I understand his loyalties.

Either way the point is well taken. Perhaps it’s as much up to us to leverage the many new social media platforms to address positive social change, as it is to look towards big corporations to adopt CSR policies. Ultimately, it’s not one or the other – both options would be ideal, but I think it’s interesting to see how some of the largest companies of the last decade are really platforms for social change, rather than those huge, older corporations that are now adjusting company policies (or not) for a variety of reasons.

I hope to explore this avenue a bit more and perhaps look at some lesser-known platforms that are helping us do our part.

Image Credit by iCrossing via Flickr under a CC license


About the Author

Jonathan has worked in both journalism and various facets of small business development over the past eight years. Most recently, he graduated from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (graduate school of Middlebury College) in 2010 with an MBA and an MA in International Development Policy. His interests include SME development and its role in economic growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as how CSR/Sustainability measures impact both business operations and the communities in which businesses operate. While at MIIS he worked as a summer fellow involved in small business consulting in Accra, Ghana and was an active member of the MIIS Net Impact chapter. As a life long traveler, Jonathan has been fortunate to have lived in, worked in or visited over 20 countries on 5 continents and he truly hopes that he will be able to continue this trend.