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Marks & Spencer Csr Article

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Marks & Spencer, one of Britain's leading retailers, the words scroll relentlessly across a giant electronic ticker. They describe progress against "Plan A", a set of 100 worthy targets over five years. The company will help to give 15,000 children in Uganda a better education; it is saving 55,000 tonnes of CO2 in a year; it has recycled 48m clothes hangers; it is tripling sales of organic food; it aims to convert over 20m garments to Fairtrade cotton; every store has a dedicated "Plan A" champion.

The M&S ticker says a lot about the current state of what is commonly known as corporate social responsibility (CSR). First, nobody much likes the CSR label. A year ago M&S launched not a CSR plan but Plan A ("because there is no Plan B"). The chief executive's committee that monitors this plan is called the "How We Do Business Committee". Other companies prefer to describe this kind of thing as "corporate responsibility" (dropping the "social" as too narrow), or "corporate citizenship", or "building a sustainable business". One Nordic executive glories in the job title of director, accountability and triple-bottom-line leadership. All this is convoluted code for something simple: companies meaning (or seeming) to be good.

Second, the scrolling list shows what a vast range of activities now comes under the doing-good umbrella. It spans everything from volunteering in the local community to looking after employees properly, from helping the poor to saving the planet. With such a fuzzy, wide-ranging subject, many companies find it hard to know what to focus on.

Third, the M&S ticker demonstrates that CSR is booming. Whether through electronic screens, posters or glossy reports, big companies want to tell the world about their good citizenship. They are pushing out the message on their websites and in advertising campaigns. Their chief executives



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