Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of their operations. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.
The debate about CSR has been said to have begun in the early 20th century, amid growing concerns about large corporations and their power. The ideas of charity and stewardship helped to shape the early thinking about CSR in the US. There is no universally accepted definition of CSR- Selected definitions by CSR organizations include:
★ “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large” World Business Council for Sustainable Development
★ “CSR is about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.”
★ “Corporate social responsibility is undertaking the role of “corporate citizenship” and ensuring the business values and behaviour is aligned to balance between improving and developing the wealth of the business, with the intention to improve society, people and the planet”
★ “CSR is a company’s commitment to operating in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner whilst balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders.” CSR Asia
★ “Corporate social responsibility is the commitment of businesses to contribute to sustainable economic development by working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their lives in ways that are good for business and for development.” International Finance Corporation
To demonstrate good business citizenship, firms can report compliance with a number of CSR standards The scale and nature of the benefits of CSR for an organization can vary depending on the nature of the enterprise, and are difficult to quantify, though there is a large body of literature exhorting business to adopt measures beyond financial ones CSR may be based within the human resources, business development or public relations departments of an organization, or may be given a separate unit reporting to the CEO or in some cases directly to the board.
Some companies may implement CSR-type values without a clearly defined team or programme. The business case for CSR within a company will likely rest on one or more of these arguments:
A CSR programme can be seen as an aid to recruitment and, particularly within the competitive graduate student market. Potential recruits often ask about a firm’s CSR policy during an interview and having a comprehensive policy can give an advantage. CSR can also help to improve the perception of a company among its staff, particularly when staff can become involved through payroll giving, fundraising activities or community volunteering. In crowded marketplaces companies strive for a unique selling proposition which can separate them from the competition in the minds of consumers.
CSR can play a role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values. Business service organizations can benefit too from building a reputation for integrity and best practice. So businesses should be more responsible for their environment. It is difficult to concede if CSR is purely driven by the intentions of corporate members to exert ethical conduct or is it a distraction and/or opportunity to over shadow or distract society and consumer perception based on the moral standing of an organization
There are major challenges in today’s corporate arena that impose limitations to the growth and potential profits of an organization. Government restriction, tariffs, globalization, environmentally sensitive areas and exploitation are problems that are costing millions of dollars for organization. It may be apparent that in some cases, ethical implications are simply a costly hindrance that potentially forces businesses to finding alternative means to shift viewpoints.
It is certainly a potential strategic tactic to gain public support to sustain a competitive advantage. Another plausible driver of CSR is by independent mediators to ensure that corporate goals don’t harm or disadvantage anyone or environment. Unfortunately many consequential events are a reason why CSR policies become evident. But CSR opens up a whole new horizon for safer and better opportunities for both the employer and employee. It is now for more organizations to realize the importance of CSR, and take the right step towards success.