Greenwashing and Blue-washing are recently coined terms (although Greenwashing was coined in 1986, it has become common parlance only recently), which have come into use with respect to companies and their fulfilment of corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship advocacy. In fact, it is the non-fulfilment of the same that has brought about the emergence of the two terms. Their definitions, however, must not go amiss in the debate about CSR.
Greenwashing, also known as whitewash or green sheen is a strategy adopted by corporates to promote themselves as environment friendly, and one fulfilling all mandates towards corporate social responsibility, however deceptive such promotion may be. Thus, the act of corporates to market and advertise themselves as environment friendly, and thus fulfilling corporate social responsibility, while just spending the amount pledged for the same in the abovesaid marketing and advertising, rather than actual actions, is called greenwashing.
There are agencies and departments in big companies only overlooking effective greenwashing techniques. These companies pay no heed to actual environmental impacts of their actions and procedure followed for earning profits but spend only on marketing of falsehood of being environment friendly.
Almost similar to Greenwashing, Blue-washing is a technique employed by corporates and companies to form collaborations and associations with various United Nations Agency to portray themselves as being compliant of the ten principles of United Nations Global Compact, while not being so in actuality. Thus, the companies that associate themselves with the United Nations, for the sole purpose of advertising themselves being in congruence with the principles of actions against child labor, slavery and corruption, safeguarding human rights, and being servient to labor unions are said to be engaged in the practice of blue-washing.
The color blue comes from the blue logo of the United Nations. However, their association with the United Nations’ Agencies is merely a blanket for doing work under the aegis of the principles formulated by the UN, and not actually working in the direction.
These companies that engage in the malpractices of greenwashing and blue-washing have no purer motives towards building a stronger society than the companies that do not contribute towards CSR at all. Moreover, these companies hamper the workings of the society, as well as the government by falsely portraying that they work towards social and environmental causes.
The only benefit that these companies earn is goodwill and good repute, that returns to them in the form of more profit and more public acceptance. However, greenwashing and blue-washing have been the cause of criticism of the general public towards NGOs, and organizations actually trying to do some good in the society. The infamy of one organization brings about disrepute to the entire field of social work, making it harder for the socially oriented organizations to reap the benefits of the policies and initiatives of the government as well as private organizations.
These practices need to be checked, and brought a complete stop to, with much needed due diligence being accorded to these organizations. It should be the collective effort of the State, its agencies, as well as private individuals and organizations to halt and stop these practices in order to bring about effective and actual changes in the society, where marketing is much more simpler than putting the desired efforts towards change.