Why CSR: 12 Quotes to Help Build Your Argument

Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying many times “Responsibility is the Price of Greatness”. I can’t think of a more judicious use of words when it comes to the value of CSR and sustainability. Perhaps Mr Churchill meant personal greatness here but then what are companies if not groups of people. People, who through their own quest for greatness can contribute to making a company truly great.  Here I am giving some quotes from corporate and thought leaders who place emphasis on the value of corporate responsibility and ethics.  I often use these and some factual evidence (more on that at a later time) to make a compelling argument in response to  the eternal “why CSR” question when all else fails!

1. If you can shift your thinking away from merely selling and into building trust instead, even if it costs you a few bucks in profit, you’ll begin to see opportunities you never imagined once you understand what it means to ‘wow’ that customer by giving them more than they expected! – Chris Zane, Business Owner and Author.

 2. In a truly great company profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body: They are absolutely essential for life but they are not the very point of life – Jim Collins, Author “Good to Great”.

 3. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently – Benjamin Franklin (edited: One Two of our readers pointed out that the quote is from Benjamin Franklin not Buffet. Thanks for pointing that out!)

 4. Goodness is the only investment that never fails – Henry David Thoreau, American writer.

 5. Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals – they are both essential ingredients for long-term success – William Clay Ford Jr. Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company.

6. In the next decade, the most successful companies will be those that integrate sustainability into their core businesses – Jim Owens, CEO Caterpillar

7. To build and sustain brands people love and trust, one must focus—not only on today but also on tomorrow. It’s not easy…but balancing the short and long term is key to delivering sustainable, profitable growth—growth that is good for our shareholders but also good for our consumers, our employees, our business partners, the communities where we live and work, and the planet we inhabitIrene B. Rosenfeld, CEO Kraft

8. Corporate Social Responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it because it is good for our businessNiall Fitzerald, Former CEO, Unilever

9. We know that the profitable growth of our company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our communities across the world. And we know it is in our best interests to contribute to the sustainability of those communities – Travis Engen, CEO, Alcan

10. Where sustainability works best is where an organization’s leadership gets it and wants it to happen and enables it to happen – so everyone from the person who sweeps the floor to the finance director feels part of that conversation – Will Day, Chairman, Sustainable Development Commission (2010)

11. The business of business should not be about money. It should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed – Anita Roddick, Founder, Body Shop

12. Ethics is the new competitive environment – Peter Robinson, CEO Mountain Equipment Co-op Creative Commons T Salon

Hope you found these useful. Do let us know of any inspirational quotes that you use for making your case.

Photo Credit: TSalon Flicker.com


  1. please note that . “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently – Warren Edward Buffet, Entrepreneur”. that quote was initially said by Benjamin Franklin, might be different in writing but the message is still the same, i think for the reputation of your company and what it stands for perhaps you should just take the time to truly research the quotes as they may lead people astray. Just constructive i hope…

  2. Sadiya Rohma Khan says:

    ” CSR is not about coporates ..it sounds to me co-operates!” Truly Sadiya Rohma Khan

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