Hey, VW! Where’s your Corporate Social Responsibility?
When the news broke that one of the biggest companies on the planet had been cheating emissions testing, the world was shocked. Not only were we left surprised as to how they’d managed to get away with such abhorrent behaviour for so long, but we were also angered at why they would do such a thing in the first place.
Prior to the emissions scandal, VW scored very highly in terms of climate strategy, ecological sustainability, compliance and anti-corruption. When the truth came out about what they’d been doing, their fall from grace was sharp.
With blood on their hands due to Nox pollution from “dirty diesels” and increasing inner-city environmental damage, not to mention experiments on monkeys, a simple question really needs answering: “Hey, VW! Where’s your Corporate Social Responsibility?”
What is Corporate Social Responsibility
It’s a bit grey when it comes to pinning down a complete definition. But generally speaking it’s about a company operating in an ethical way.
Ethics isn’t so hard to define. Ethics in business is about being fair; avoiding exploitation; being caring; taking responsibility for actions; understanding consequences of actions; and generally being “good”. Climate change remains a very hot topic, and we all know we have to do more to lower our “carbon footprint” and avoid changing our planet for the worse by damaging our environment and harming the wildlife we share the earth with.
So, it’s not hard to link being ethical with being green. Therefore, it’s not hard to link being green with Corporate Social Responsibility.
In fact, VW has long proposed itself to be pioneers of “clean-diesel” technology and “greener” cars. It was an active part of their marketing platform, and demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility as part of a marketing platform can be as good for business as it can be for the soul. People can relate to it and people can buy into it. So, when the Volkswagen Emission Scandal broke, we quickly realised that VW’s efforts were not about Corporate Social Responsibility. It was about, we assume, profit.
And then there is the damage to human health. Scientific brains have already called VW out and suggested that they are responsible for thousands of additional deaths as a result of the higher amounts of NOx caused by the scandal. This one isn’t hard to breakdown at all. Causing deaths is the literal opposite to Corporate Social Responsibility, as is experimenting on innocent monkeys, which they were found to have been doing last month…
The dark side of profit
Business is there to make money and be profitable. But being profitable can come at the cost of Corporate Social Responsibility.
We may never fully understand the aims of VW when they decided to use the so-called “defeat devices” in their vehicles, but the sensible assumption is that it came down to money. Green technology can be more costly, and lowering NOx emissions can directly affect the power and performance of a vehicle. With VW Group vehicles often being synonymous with power and pull, their NOx-reducing technology likely came at the cost of performance. In fact, expert reports have already said this.
So, what does a company do? Do they abide by the law and see their product adversely affected, or do they find a way of keeping their product as good as it was before while abiding by the law?
Or, as in the case of VW, do you find a way of cheating the law and keeping your product more desirable?
We can but speculate because we still do not know the full answers. The above is speculation, but it is sensible speculation that’s widely-shared around the world. There has to be a reason as to why they decided to use so-called “defeat devices” as opposed to simply abiding by the law. We can only ever assume that the reason a company decides to go above the law is because they want to protect the thing that is often the most important to them: profit.
So, VW: where’s your Corporate Social Responsibility? You have a responsibility to not be responsible for human and animal harm, abide by the law and help to protect our environment. In light of the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal, it’s abundantly clear that you did none of the above.
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