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How to keep your CSR / Sustainability budget

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 13:09:42 +0000

If you are a CSR / Sustainability professional you will most likely face the challenge of making most of the budget you have available for the year. Especially in bad economic times, budgets are likely to be cut and keeping your budget for your CSR / Sustainability projects and practices is not always as straight forward as it might seem.

Here are some tips I would like to give you from when I was in charge of the CSR / Sustainability budget working as the CSR Manager for a multinational.

  • Continuously make your case for keeping/increasing your budgets. Everyone within an organization is fighting to maintain or increase their own budgets. You should do the same.
  • If you are publishing a CSR / Sustainability Report, allocate at least 25% for it. My rule was always to use that 25% of the budget no matter how high it was in total. Some practitioners have different views and in the end is your own personal and organizational choice of course.

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The aim of Fabian Pattberg's website is to be a resource for practical information on the topics of Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the use of Social Networking for business and individuals.

Four CSR Challenges for Sustainable Businesses

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 12:16:54 +0000

Written by Chris Milton

We have become so used to the way business has been done for the last 50 years or so it's often difficult to break out of the mindset and look at what is unsustainable and how we can fix it.

Four pieces of news from the past few weeks have set me thinking, and below are my conclusions. These I offer up as four challenges for CSR businesses, ways in which they can truely change the paradigm of business to a more sustainable model.

Challenge 1 : Change Your Pricing Policy

A blog I read last week (I truely forget where) was having a rant about state intervntion in markets to protect precious resources. Why should we need state regulation, the poster opined, when we already have an adequate mechanism for protecting resources : market price.

I won't bother to argue this point by point, suffie to say the whole rationale of a market economy is that price is NOT based solely upon production costs. It is based, in a pretty barefaced way, on how much you can get away with charging.

For example: a quick Google tells me I can pick up a wirelesss keyboard and mouse for up to £27. However a wireless RS232 connector (for monitors) costs up to £158. The technology isn't that different, it's just that RS232 connectors are typically business only items so the manufacturers ramp up the price.

The challenge is to review your pricing policy. Take out the idea of how much you can get away with charging. If this brings you in drastically below your competitors then be prepared to explain the policy to your clients.

Business is about profits, yes. Greed, no.

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The aim of Fabian Pattberg's website is to be a resource for practical information on the topics of Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the use of Social Networking for business and individuals.



My lessons learned: What to expect from a good CSR / Sustainability blog

Sun, 30 Jan 2011 18:55:08 +0000

I have been running this blog since early 2008 now. It started as a collection of personal thoughts and events but ever since I started to write a little more about CSR / Sustainability I also had to make sure I am listing to my readers enough to get an interesting discussion going.

The topic of this post is to provide you with some of the these lessons I learned over the past years when it comes to my blog design, the content and what my readers are looking for:

  • Post on a regular basis: At least once a week but not each day. There is a fine balance in my view. And when it comes to CSR / Sustainability a lower frequency of posts each week gives you as the writer the possibility to focus on a topic or theme and not have to worry about swamping your readers inbox or RSS feed.
  • Keep your blog design simple and accessible: I am not someone that is very inclined to read a blog post that is looking to ‘busy’ and is over -designed. In my view the content needs to be the focus. My blog is simple in terms of design and my experience over the past years has shown that this is the best way forward when you write about CSR / Sustainability.

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The aim of Fabian Pattberg's website is to be a resource for practical information on the topics of Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the use of Social Networking for business and individuals.


Can NGO’s be the only organisational thought leaders in the CSR / Sustainability field?

Wed, 06 Oct 2010 16:47:23 +0000

The social media / tech world was taken by surprise last week when Techcrunch (one of the largest tech / social media blogs globally) announced that it has been acquired by AOL. Immediately the future editorial independence of Techcrunch was questioned now being a part of the AOL empire. Rightly so in my view.

Here is a thought. So what if this kind of acquisition would be happening in the CSR / Sustainability business sector? What would happen what would happen to their credibility?
I think this question is impossible to answer at this point due to the lack of examples (to my knowledge their have been no acquisitions of this kind as of yet) but thinking about it brought up another issue I never really thought about before.
The question is: Are all organisations that are so called thought leaders in the CSR / Sustainability sector all NGO’s or government funded?
Or lets put this another way:  Can we have genuine organisational thought leaders in this field without them being NGOs or government funded? Lets not talk about individuals but focus on organisations that are being seen as thought leaders.
My thoughts on this:
The problem is that all profit driven organisations which are intending to be thought leaders in the CSR / Sustainability field will always try to sell their product in some shape or form. This is the nature of our free market economic system unfortunately in this case. As far as I am aware there is no organisation out there that are thought leaders, not trying to sell a product / service and are not an NGO or government funded. I also doubt that these organisations can ever exist as every organisation needs to pay their bills and earn a decent living for their founders and employees in order to carry out their work.
I can only therefore conclude that NGO’s are and can be the only real thought leaders in the CSR / Sustainability field.
This is my conclusion. What is yours?


Fabian Pattberg Blog

The strong voice of the CSR community

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 18:59:19 +0000

It is now exactly 7 days ago that a storm in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) world broke out over an article by Aneel Karnani published in the Wall Street Journal titled: ”The case against Corporate Social Responsibility”. In the article he argued that the idea of companies having a duty to address social ills is not just flawed but that it also makes it more likely that we’ll ignore the real solutions to these problems. All week last week the reactions to this article from around the CSR community flooded in. People tweeted on Twitter, shared on Facebook and emailed from one practitioner to the the other arguing for and against this point of view. Some reactions where in support of Mr Karnani but the majority where criticizing the simplicity of his argument and absolutely disagreed with his assessment that CSR in itself as a business principle was flawed. This is a list of some of the reactions by authors and websites: Vault CSR Huffington Post Triple Pundit Elaine Cohen Paul Klein I do not want to go into detail what my view on this article is but if you have read my blog for a while you will know that I am all for CSR as a business concept and that in my view no organization now and in the future can allow itself to not take some aspects of CSR in account in order to make more money and take up its role as a responsible business in our society. In any case. For me this strong reaction by the CSR community showed a lot more then the passion of some individuals. My interpretation of this reaction from the CSR community to this article Over the past few years a lot of people in the CSR community have been become increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress within global organizations to continue to implement a more material and meaningful CSR programs and practices within their business. At the same time more and more so called “business experts” started to make their voice heard and strongly criticized the whole purpose of CSR and its value for business. Common arguments include the lack of focus on the business case (ie. whether it makes the individual business more money embracing CSR) and the time is not right to lay further constraints on business growth (especially during an global economic downturn) by increasing its overhead costs and pulling vital budgets away to further strengthen CSR practices within a business. The CSR Community is ready to face its critics: Last weeks reactions to the WSJ article showed that the CSR community is ready to face its critics and argue its way to increased recognition. It showed that there are many people out there that are willing to stand up and argue in favor of CSR, highlight the best practice and usefulness for the individual business and business as a whole across the globe. Social Media and CSR is a winning combination: It has furthermore become very clear that social media as a tool is vital for the future of CSR. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are and will continue to be the three cornerstones of the next phase of CSR in terms of communication and collaboration. The more people join in to share their ideas, examples and experiences to make CSR the business norm, the more we will be able to convince business across the globe that CSR is not just a business fashion but that it is able to adapt and change to include the latest trends and best practice as well. Adapting in a way that CSR is providing a voice to all diverse stakeholders opinions and that organizations which are willing and able to listen to these voices will hugely benefit from this in the short in long term. For me as a member of the CSR community, this last week was a very encouraging week. What was your view on the discussion and reactions of people to the WSJ article? I would love to hear your viewpoint. More posts on the topics of Sustainability and CSR can be found on my blog: [...]

The UK sees no need in a CSR Minister anymore

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:44:50 +0000

A CSR minister has been part of the UK government for 10 years now right after Tony Blair's government created the first minister responsible to promote CSR and responsible business practices in the UK. Since then there have been 7 CSR ministers doing this job. This was always something very interesting to talk about when you are at events or conferences and it was a clear sign of the willingsness of the UK government to show leadership in this area. It always made me proud to be living in the UK for some reason. But now the new UK coalition government has so far not appointed a new CSR minister. And I believe they will not do so in the foreseeable future. Yes, I admit the results/impacts of a CSR minister have been a mix of of successes and failures over the years. But this position nevertheless showed the rest of the world that the UK championed responsible business practice from a governmental level. And this is unfortunately still something which not many other countries are doing. The big questions for then are: Are they correct in doing so? Do we not need a CSR minister anymore? Here is what I think: The role of a CSR minister is important but for it to be more relevant then it is at the moment. its responsibilities and governmental influence would also need to change. The role would need to be empowered to be a clear and distinctive voice for a change towards responsible business practice in the UK. The purpose of the function also needs to evolve in a way to include responsibilities for the range of CSR topics companies need to deal with when they are expressing their willingness to be more responsible corporate citizen. The person being the CSR minister would ideally be someone that has an equal amount of business and political experience. This would be crucial for this job, to be able to both perspectives, the business and political perspective. This obviously is only wishful thinking from my side and it seems that this post of a CSR Minister will never be reinstated in any case. All current developments are pointing towards this negative development. As a consequence, is the current UK government (and the previous government has started to do that) reallocating the responsibilities of the CSR minister to a range of other ministries (one step forward three steps back!). And this is a real shame as this clearly devalues the decisions/work already taken by the previous CSR ministers and the purpose of a person responsible to promote responsible business practice. I believe that there is a dire need for more responsible business practice leadership in the current UK government. You might argue that this is the role of organizations such as the BITC, but having the BITC is simply not enough (But this is a topic for a complete separate post in my opinion). The bottom line is that we need someone more senior in the UK government that knows what CSR is, champions responsible business practice and has the links to the businesses. Otherwise will the promotion of responsible business practice not be seen as important enough by the UK business sector. I wonder what the future of CSR in the UK will bring if we continue to make 1 step forward and 3 steps back for much longer? More information about this topic and myself can be found on my blog at PATTBERG7439  No CSR Minister in the UK anymore CSR not a priority anymore in the UK [...]

Sustainability Activist, Influencer or Observer? What are you?

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 14:27:17 +0000

What kind of Sustainability person are you? The question I wanted to pose to you today is whether you believe you are an Activist, Influencer or Observer when you are looking to promote Sustainability? ( I am assuming that you care about our planet, responsible business practice i.e. Sustainability because you are reading this).

I feel that this differentiation is very important in the context of Sustainability and making a difference in this world to change it for the better. Each of these three categories imply positives and negatives in my opinion and I have outlined what I mean with each of these categories below:

Activists are people that are especially active, vigorous advocates of a sustainability cause. They do what they say in a way that is not always acceptable for the general public.  They shock or break the laws in order to get attention for the cause they are support. This can be positive or negative depending of the persons viewpoint. Activism is very controversial and highly sensible. Do not get me wrong. We need activists but they have a certain extremism which many people can not relate to easily. Examples obviously include the Green NGO’s such as Greenpeace, etc in this world.

Influencer’s are people that are a compelling force on their specific topic areas. Their actions, opinions and standpoints effect our behavior directly in the way that we have a close bonding to this person right away or after a short period of time. This is the clear difference to the the activist. Influencer are moderate and measured. I make us change behavior. For a classic example of an influencer in the Sustainability is Al Gore. He did not settle for a fancy post in an organization somewhere after we lost against Bush but traveled the world to promote his message of saving the planet and to raise awareness about Climate Change. His presentations about the progress of climate change stick in your head and you are able to take away the aspects that help you change your behavior. A true influencer.

Is someone that observes from a distance and does not really get involved and does not participate. We are all observers when we get to know a topic. But once we know about it we have a choice. Either to dive deeper into the information or to move on. I have once read (sorry no source) that 97% of the population are observers.

Question: Who are you? How do you see yourself?
I am definitely a influencer. Or at least this is what I am trying to be. But this is not about me but the message of this post is that we need more influencers in this world. We have enough activists and just to many observers. Influencers are the ones that really have the largest leverage to make change happen in this situation we are in globally.

So if you think you are an observer then please take a moment to reflect and visualize where your passion is with regards to Sustainability. Once you have figured that out then it will be a lot easier to be become an influencer. Passion empowers you to move forward and this is what an influencer and the activist need to do. They do not stand still but move forward and change it. Observing doesn’t get us anywhere so please join me to be an influencer and help us secure our future.


Fabian Pattberg is a sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social media professional with many years experience in the sustainability and social media field. Fabian maintains and writes for his blog

Key Elements of Corporate Social Responsibility in an Organization

Mon, 13 Jul 2009 15:36:03 +0000

  In the last 10 years the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement stood for topics such as Corporate Governance, Environmental management and community engagement only to name three. CSR is being seen as the new business models for companies that want to be seen as more responsible organizations.  So why is that? Well it is not just acceptable anymore to do a little bit of environmental management here and some community involvement there. Companies are expected to construct a sounds framework of activities that all enhance their responsible business practice.  This article will outline a broad overview of the important elements for successful CSR practice within an organization.  To give this overview more structure, these elements are all subdivided into the internal and external aspects of CSR practice. This differentiation is necessary as CSR has two sides to it: 1) The internal and 2) external perspective in order to be successful.  The following main elements are important for successful CSR practice  CSR Strategy The CSR Strategy should be the starting point of the organizational CSR practice. This strategy needs to be defined as clear as possible with a future goal in mind.  Internal Aspects: You will need to build solid support for the strategy before you go about defining what you want to achieve with this strategy. It is key to this strategy to get the support and participation from as many high profile executives in the organization and to identify and engage these people that are passionate about CSR within the business. Once you have this support in place it will be easier for you to define the CSR Strategy for your business. External Aspects: The CSR Strategy will act as the positioning document for the responsible business practice of your company. Your stakeholders and the public will expect a visionary document that shows ambition and goals. CSR Management System After defining the strategy your next task will be to set up the CSR Management system. The management system of CSR within your business will outline what you actually need to do to make your strategy happen and to produce results.    Internal Aspects: This is where you need to engage even more individuals in your business. Try to gather information on how the CSR Strategy has been received and then build on that to engage the most positive people. Once you have gathered a good team that supports your cause you can pool their knowledge and build a sound management plan on how to deliver the different elements of the strategy. The CSR management system is the customized tool to successful CSR. You can go around and look at the management systems of other companies but this management system really needs to be so customized to your organizational context that you nearly need to build it from scratch. External Aspects: This will be the CSR tool you will be asked about a lot once you have it set up. The CSR management system is your vehicle to get more external recognition of your activities. Never give away to much information but be helpful when other organizations what to have some tips. You never know how they are doing managing their CSR aspects; you might learn something for your management system. CSR Reporting The next step after the successful set up of the management system is the reporting of the first results of your companies CSR activities. This is called CSR reporting. Companies usually report on an annual basis. This CSR reporting is really the first test whether you and your team have created something interesting and worth reporting for your stakeholders.  Internal Aspects: Internally this CSR reporting is really a tough task. It will test your CSR management and coordination skills. The goal is to produce a meaning full publication that will be of interest to your stakeholders. The challenge you will face inside of the com[...]