How Bizarre is a CSR Bazaar?

The Institute for International Research notes that it is transmitting information about its September 2006 corporate social responsibility meeting in Dubai solely via the web in order to conserve paper. But one of IIR's sessions--the "CSR Bazaar"-- might lead some to wonder if the organization sees the forest or only the trees. The Dubai meeting, scheduled for September 17-20, 2006, features a "CSR Bazaar" (their choice of titles) at which corporate presenters will each take five to ten minutes to tell other companies about their corporate social responsibility efforts. Symposium speakers include Hill & Knowlton's Middle East director, Coca Cola, and a primary sponsor is Shell Oil. Advance literature for the events, which also include presentations by United Nations officials, states: "...[C]ontroversy and doubt" about CSR "are also increasing; the media are now suspicious of all corporate activity that claims to be driven by more than sheer short-term profit and 'feel-good PR.'" Perhaps "selling" others on CSR initiatives in five to ten minute snippets has something to to with the public impression that CSR is becoming one more corporate sales pitch rather than a genuine commitment to improvements in labor standards, the environment and human rights.