Eclipsing CSR

27 Jan 2010|Kelli Peterson

Last week Royal Caribbean cruise lines made the decision to continue the journey of the Celebrity Solstice through the beach town of Labadee, Haiti with all 200 passengers on board. The fact that the beach town is just 60 miles from the destroyed capital of Port-au-Prince where global rescue teams were scrambling to bring relief and aid to those hundreds of thousands that did not lay dead under the rubble, seemed to make no difference to those either on the ship or those making the decision.

It is true that proximity should not really make a difference on whether or not you consider your vacation “ruined” by the knowledge of a major national disaster claiming 200,000 lives. But to proclaim that we must continue “business as usual” to support the impacted economy seems a little misguided. Does anyone remember “Get out there and shop”?

It should be noted that Royal Caribbean is now donating over $1 million, delivering food and water on their stops and pledging net revenue from the Labadee stop to the relief effort but these efforts don’t eclipse the greater message that Royal Caribbean sent by continuing their journey. We look to corporate leaders to hold strong values, show empathy and make decisions that we would feel comfortable with no matter what side of the decision we may fall on. We look to virtue and solidarity. Royal Caribbean may have many of these buried down deep but herein lies the example for the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.

In the wake of an increasingly long list of generous donors whose businesses don’t even touch down in Haiti, the Royal Caribbean contribution seems like an after-thought even if its plan all along was to contribute. An example of a PR move vs. a CSR strategy.

Total aid relief is growing by the millions every day from everyday citizens to celebrities to corporations. From the efforts of the Hope for Haiti telethon to the text campaign raising funds for the Red Cross to the many web sites included Amazon’s and Kiva who have check boxes on their homepages to donate directly, the world is pitching in.

Good CSR isn’t just about your corporate responsibility in time of disaster but as it turns out, your true colors may come out during disaster, eclipsing all aspects of the value a good strategy can create.

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