‘Social responsibility’. It makes your heart sink a bit doesn’t it? Not the actual achievement but the knowledge that companies have to think of something to put on their website and into their constitution so it just becomes a box ticking exercise and nothing really changes. The main problem with social responsibility is that many of the things we need to be responsible about are things we prefer not to think of. The homeless, the unemployed, addicts, ex-offenders and so on. A lot of firms find they prefer to tick the social responsibility box by supporting children from deprived areas or cosy elderly folk. A bit of money towards an urban oasis, supporting fund raisers to buy specialist equipment, there’s lots of ways to demonstrate corporate care towards the wider community.
However, genuine social responsibility is not just about spending money on excursions or kit. Social responsibility is about making sure that no one gets left behind, that those who can’t run in front are still part of the race. Sometimes circumstances trip people up. That doesn’t mean they have to lie on the floor getting trampled on by everyone else; it means we should collectively help them up, dust them down and find the right place for those people to be.
For the Puralist, this kind of stuff is meat and drink. Finding solutions, getting involved, investing or offering partnerships, these are all elements Pluralists thrive on. I am not suggesting that one necessarily needs to abandon work and volunteer at a social responsibility project, but I am suggesting that Pluralists should know about projects near to them, should take an interest in those projects and work out ways to push those projects along.
Furthermore, Pluralists are the kind of people who can identify a need and put together a solution. One of the worst aspects of corporate responsibility is the frequent failure to notice the problem 100 yards from the office door. It’s all very well saying ‘we support a community arts project in the local church’ but has anyone noticed the rough sleepers in the churchyard? I think the Pluralist probably has and is already pulling together the ideas needed to make a difference.