The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility in Gucci: From Risk Management to Stakeholder Engagement
MetadataShow full item record
In an increasingly resource-constrained and unequal world, luxury brands are normally expected to be more accountable in justifying the value of their products. Despite strong societal drivers for greater sustainability, the majority of luxury labels have traditionally been slow to recognize their responsibilities. This chapter explores how one of the world’s leading luxury brands exposed to CSR-related risks responded proactively to internal and external stakeholder expectations. Gucci decided to introduce CSR activities without being confronted by a CSR crisis or a request from its parent company. This voluntary move therefore anticipated many competitors in the fashion industry that were caught in CSR conflicts, such as unfair treatment of workers, lack of safety conditions, or use of child labor. Relying upon the model of CSR stage development proposed by Maon, Lindgreen and Swaen (2010, hereafter MLS), we document the shift from a stage focused on adaptation to stakeholder pressures and risk management (the value protection phase) to an emerging stage in which the emphasis is increasingly on innovation and reconciliation of different stakeholder needs (the value creation phase). The case analysis suggests that Gucci experienced a major change in knowledge, attitudes, structures and practices surrounding CSR issues, and emphasizes the importance of embedding a stakeholder engagement program in a firm’s strategy. The order of discussion is as follows. In the next section, we outline the theoretical background and the methodology used for this study. We then describe the key phases underlying the evolution of CSR activities in Gucci, with an emphasis on events that recently unfolded to reconcile the interests of the various stakeholders. The final section concludes with a summary of findings, theoretical and managerial implications, and some suggestions for further research.