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Value and values of a new Corporate Social Responsibility

Rome, 12/06/2019, Conference

Not just for profit. With the end of the "turbo-capitalism" era, the world economy is turning increasingly clearly towards a new model. Therefore, while growth and positive economic results will remain essential, it will also be crucially important to achieve the right relationship with the local context, a renewed sense of community and a closer focus on environmental issues.

The inaugural conference of the Aspen Corporate Initiative project - which the Institute has crafted for partner companies' directors of external and institutional relations and communications – highlighted how the parameters of a sustainable economy can be the key to more balanced global development.

Within this new paradigm, productivity of course remains an important consideration, but at the same time there is a growing need to share entrepreneurial results at local level, together with a close focus on the environment. While this applies to the Western economies in general – and first and foremost to the United States and Europe –it is even more important in Italy and the Mediterranean, where there is still much to be done in connection with the climate and environmental issue. But it must be done without losing sight of the competitive aspect: indeed, how can we reconcile the need to observe a number of parameters of sustainability with the demands of a globalized market characterised by increasingly sharp competition and increasing deregulation, as is the case in China and India, for instance? This is no easy question to answer.

The fact is that the sustainable and circular model, or indeed the very model of a civil economy, is now considered sufficient by many, and by some as the sole means of accessing the global marketplace. Indeed, it is no coincidence that many listed companies that have embraced the paradigms of sustainability and social responsibility have achieved very positive results on the stock market.

Within this context, a change is also occurring in the traditional concept of corporate social responsibility, which has been shaped - and not only in Italy - by a tradition and history of great value and importance to companies both great and small. It is becoming a strategic objective shared by senior managers and an integral part of business projections. The European Commission itself has launched an important initiative in this direction, involving Europe's major companies.

A different concept of the role of marketing can be helpful in this important transition phase. It involves viewing marketing no longer in terms of extreme consumerism - which causes consumers themselves increasing confusion - but as a way of interacting with more mature consumers more sensitive to experiential parameters and more in harmony with the environment and locality. Furthermore, if a company's prime responsibility is to survive in a competitive marketplace, then modern and innovative marketing must contribute to a company's sustainability, insofar as sustainability is understood in terms of wanting to grant the company a vision that transcends its own "biological life".

Technology and artificial intelligence can also play an important part, not only because new discoveries are relieving human beings of the most repetitive manual tasks, and will continue to do so, but also because they will raise the question of how much of the "human" can survive in a robotized world in which executive roles are increasingly taken over by algorithms and new paradigms. Finally, how many of the existing welfare paradigms of Western societies will survive the clash with aggressive emerging markets that sometimes lack even minimal standards of equity and sustainability? These major challenges will have an impact on the values and the future of the Western economy and Western society, and more besides.Not just for profit. With the end of the "turbo-capitalism" era, the world economy is turning increasingly clearly towards a new model. Therefore, while growth and positive economic results will remain essential, it will also be crucially important to achieve the right relationship with the local context, a renewed sense of community and a closer focus on environmental issues.

The inaugural conference of the Aspen Corporate Initiative project - which the Institute has crafted for partner companies' directors of external and institutional relations and communications – highlighted how the parameters of a sustainable economy can be the key to more balanced global development.

Within this new paradigm, productivity of course remains an important consideration, but at the same time there is a growing need to share entrepreneurial results at local level, together with a close focus on the environment. While this applies to the Western economies in general – and first and foremost to the United States and Europe –it is even more important in Italy and the Mediterranean, where there is still much to be done in connection with the climate and environmental issue. But it must be done without losing sight of the competitive aspect: indeed, how can we reconcile the need to observe a number of parameters of sustainability with the demands of a globalized market characterised by increasingly sharp competition and increasing deregulation, as is the case in China and India, for instance? This is no easy question to answer.

The fact is that the sustainable and circular model, or indeed the very model of a civil economy, is now considered sufficient by many, and by some as the sole means of accessing the global marketplace. Indeed, it is no coincidence that many listed companies that have embraced the paradigms of sustainability and social responsibility have achieved very positive results on the stock market.

Within this context, a change is also occurring in the traditional concept of corporate social responsibility, which has been shaped - and not only in Italy - by a tradition and history of great value and importance to companies both great and small. It is becoming a strategic objective shared by senior managers and an integral part of business projections. The European Commission itself has launched an important initiative in this direction, involving Europe's major companies.

A different concept of the role of marketing can be helpful in this important transition phase. It involves viewing marketing no longer in terms of extreme consumerism - which causes consumers themselves increasing confusion - but as a way of interacting with more mature consumers more sensitive to experiential parameters and more in harmony with the environment and locality. Furthermore, if a company's prime responsibility is to survive in a competitive marketplace, then modern and innovative marketing must contribute to a company's sustainability, insofar as sustainability is understood in terms of wanting to grant the company a vision that transcends its own "biological life".

Technology and artificial intelligence can also play an important part, not only because new discoveries are relieving human beings of the most repetitive manual tasks, and will continue to do so, but also because they will raise the question of how much of the "human" can survive in a robotized world in which executive roles are increasingly taken over by algorithms and new paradigms. Finally, how many of the existing welfare paradigms of Western societies will survive the clash with aggressive emerging markets that sometimes lack even minimal standards of equity and sustainability? These major challenges will have an impact on the values and the future of the Western economy and Western society, and more besides.