Tima Bansal, Mark DesJardine

The common approach to corporate social responsibility is grounded in ethics, morality and norms. And there is no question that many CSR initiatives are good at balancing competing demands made by shareholders and other stakeholders. To do this, however, many supposedly responsible firms borrow resources and capital from the future, which can magnify the imbalance in the distribution of resources between the short and long term.

It is time for organizational leaders to stop confusing responsibility with sustainability, which hinders businesses from thinking deeply enough about the inequities created by their actions over time. Simply put, some activities are either responsible or they are sustainable, not both.

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