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[Herald Interview] 'CSR must be 100% integrated with business'

Lee Yoon-suk, founder and CEO of InnoCSR (InnoCSR)
Lee Yoon-suk, founder and CEO of InnoCSR (InnoCSR)

Incorporating corporate social responsibility-related strategies into a company's business yields greater profits for the company in the long run, as it realizes multifaceted achievements, according to the head of a CSR solution provider.

CSR-related businesses score wins with diverse demographic, including companies' customers, stakeholders, the government and companies themselves, with their characteristic sustainability, said Lee Yoon-suk, founder and CEO of InnoCSR during an interview with The Korea Herald.

"You need all of them to be happy and satisfied (for the long run)," he added, connoting that CSR-related businesses achieve such results.

Regarding many current CSR-related business strategies, Lee warned they are "hypocritical," as the companies do not focus on ways to actually coexist with society but merely focus on making unilateral donations and philanthropic actions -- which generate unviable results.

"(In order to achieve true profit,) CSR needs to be 100 percent integrated with companies' growth, strategy, market penetration strategy and marketing strategies," said Lee.

Established in 2008, InnoCSR initially started out as a firm that provided sustainability strategy consulting services to multinational corporations.

Transitioning into a full CSR solution provider after accumulating expertise on eco-friendly technologies, the company currently primarily specializes in transferring green technology to construction industries in Asian countries.

The company's proprietary technology, Good Bricks System, a major seller for the company, is a good example of how practicing CSR reaps multiple benefits, according to Lee.

Currently, bricks are burned in kilns and are responsible for emitting carbon dioxide and other harmful materials, including black carbon.

However, GBS allows brick manufacturers to create nonfired bricks by combining soil, cement and soil stabilizer -- another technology procured by InnoCSR that binds soil particles together -- and reduce carbon emissions by some 66 percent.

The eco-friendly procedure has not only contributed to reducing air pollution caused by the brick-making process, but also boosted productivity three to 10 times by cutting production time by 80 percent, he says.

It further provided better labor conditions for employees, as the technology automized the brick-making process.

By the end of December, the company expects to have six manufacturing sites operating under GBS in Nepal, one of the countries in Asia with the greatest demand for bricks for its construction industry.

Having initiated commercialization of its technology in starting 2019, Lee said they are expecting some $5 million in sales by 2023, and $70 million by 2025.

"In order to have a strategy that is creating a win-win strategy for everyone involved in the business, (CSR) can't be just about giving back what you have profited from them," said Lee.

Instead, a company's CSR-related activities must be sustainable both for the company and the customers, Lee says.

With this in mind, the company is heading to create a "green technology accelerator" for its plans going forward, and to distribute technologies to countries to sustain a profitable, viable business, he added.

By Lee Yoon-seo (
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Korea Herald daum