CSR Principles

06/05/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

CSR contributes to another form of self-regulation that goes further and involves firms taking action to help people and the environment. CSR is described as “a belief that corporations have a social responsibility beyond pure profit.” In other words, “Firms are social entities, and so they should play a role in the social issues of the day. They should take seriously their ‘obligations to society’ and actively try to fulfill them.” As such, corporations should employ a decision-making process to achieve more than financial success on the assumption that CSR is integral to an optimum long-term strategy.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.

Consumers today expect a lot out of companies. According to a study by Cone Communications, 9 out of 10 consumers expect companies to operate responsibly and address social and environmental issues rather than simply make a profit. In addition, 84 percent of consumers seek out responsible products.[1]

To please consumers, many companies now practice corporate social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate citizenship, is a business concept in which social and environmental concerns are integrated into a company’s operations. Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey refers to CSR as conscious capitalism, in which businesses “serve the interests of all major stakeholders customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers, and the environment.” Mackey witnessed the benefits of conscious capitalism when a Whole Foods Market store was terribly affected by a flood. Unexpectedly, customers and neighbors helped, employees worked for free, suppliers resupplied products on credit, and its bank loaned it money to restock. The Whole Foods store was able to reopen 28 days after the flood.

Although there are multiple versions of CSR, the general main categories of CSR include environmental efforts, philanthropy, ethical labor practices, and volunteerism. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Environmental Efforts

The primary focus of many companies in their commitment to CSR is through environmental efforts. For example, companies can have a large carbon footprint on the environment, which is the amount of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, emitted by an individual, organization, process, event, structure, or product. The majority of scientists believe that greenhouse gases are causing changes in the global climate, sea level, ecosystems, and thus, agricultural patterns. The carbon footprints of companies vary greatly depending on business operations, their size, and their location.

Any action taken to reduce a carbon footprint is considered beneficial for the environment. These efforts have included minimizing the amount of land occupied or used, constructing/occupying energy-efficient buildings, planting trees in the rainforest, and using locally sourced products. For example, the Bingham Hotel outside of London sources as much food as possible from suppliers within a 10-mile radius and the rest of its food from the British Isles.[3] Purchasing locally sourced products supports local employment and reduces pollution by limiting the distances products must be transported.

Philanthropy

Many companies practice CSR by donating to various charities, starting charitable programs, and offering scholarships to underprivileged students wanting to attend college. Nu Skin, a personal-care company, developed a charity called Nourish the Children, which allows leaders, employees, and customers to donate nutrient-rich meals to children around the world. From 2002, when the program began, to 2017, people had donated more than 500 million meals through the program.

Ethical Labor Practices

Labor practices are often controversial from an ethical perspective. For example, Apple’s iPhones contain parts from companies in other countries. Specifically, the tin, which is used for a part, comes from mines in Indonesia. With labor laws that vary from one country to another, the company exercised due diligence in ensuring that its sourcing companies follow all applicable labor laws in their country of operation. But it was revealed to consumers in the United States that the tin was mined from companies in Indonesia that use child labor. Moreover, during the mining process, laborers as young as 12 years old were subject to the hazards of unstable soil. US consumers were appalled.

To address the issue, Apple instituted more robust labor practices, which were communicated to consumers. In a statement, Apple said, “the simplest course of action would be for Apple to unilaterally refuse any tin from Indonesian mines. That would be easy for us to do and would certainly shield us from criticism. But that would also be the lazy and cowardly path, since it would do nothing to improve the situation. We have chosen to stay engaged and attempt to drive changes on the ground.”[5] For improved transparency, Apple has released annual reports that include details of its work with suppliers and their labor practices. Recent investigations have shown some improvements to the working conditions of the employees of Apple’s suppliers. However, the company still faces some criticism.

Volunteerism

Many companies are encouraging volunteerism by incorporating it into their policies and establishing employee volunteer programs. For example, some companies make a donation to the charities their employees volunteer at, in the amount equivalent to the employees’ regular pay for the same number of hours volunteered. Other companies offer gift cards to employees who volunteer. Companies are finding creative ways to encourage and reward the volunteerism of employees not only to help society and the environment but also so that consumers and stakeholders will perceive them as socially responsible.