Corporate Social Responsibility

by Becky Toal and Veronica Broomes

Introduction

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a voluntary initiative of businesses, primarily corporate and multi-national companies. It has grown in importance as companies recognise that no longer will they be allowed to maintain the status quo of solely pursuing large profits and increasing year-on-year return for shareholders. Instead, the general public are demanding that businesses consider ethical, governance, social and environmental issues as business issues. No longer is the business of businesses to be in business, they are expected to have a positive impact on society as they explore ways of showing responsible corporate citizenship.

How CSR is demonstrated ranges from simple philanthropy in some organisations, to focusing on social, environmental and financial issues in others, as businesses impact positively on society. CSR is often a reflection of the shared values of a organisation and may be driven by public pressure, employee interest or strategic decision-making by the board. An invaluable part of marketing and public relations, the challenge for many organisations and their managers is how to have CSR brought into their business at no extra cost and not to appear superficial and calculating.

This topic explores basic aspects of CSR and considers the types of action companies can take in building a business case for CSR as they interact with key stakeholders, such as employees, customers, investors, communities and suppliers. It identifies benefits to businesses and employees from their CSR initiatives and shares examples of ways in which companies can actively promote a CSR agenda.