Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

Introduction

The main role of business in society is to develop, produce and distribute commodities for the market. However, for a business to be successful, it must maintain good relations with its stakeholders, which is the society. One of the ways through which this is achieved is by engaging in corporate social responsibility. CSR accrues long-term benefits to the company because it helps in maintaining public goodwill, attracting talented, boosting the public image of the company, attracting talented and qualified personnel, which ultimately leads to an increase in profitability. CSR does not have to be expensive or large-scale for it to be successful, the most important factor is that it should be relevant to the societal or environment’s immediate pressing needs. For instance, a company may engage in CSR by simply adopting a responsible waste-management policy. Three of the themes that are important to an organization in the practice of CSR are strong leadership, sustainability and stakeholder engagement (Mullerat, 2010).

Importance of Strong Leadership

A company that has strong leadership engages more actively in corporate social responsibility as this type of leadership recognizes the importance of peaceful interactions with all branches of stakeholders. A company that has good leadership is able to balance the social and economic aspects of business aptly. Strong leaders pave the way for other companies, as they are innovative in their CSR activities. Their CSR plans are visionary and innovative; they realize that in order to achieve the organization’s long-term objectives their focus has to change from solely making profits to becoming a good respectable corporate citizen. For such leaders, engaging in CSR is more than just an effort to boost the company’s image; they are passionate and committed to making a positive impact in the society and the environment. They are also open to learning from the stakeholders and from the environment, and are ready to develop and implement new methods of achieving CSR, while also designing business systems that promote CSR and sustainability from the beginning to the end. Most companies do not engage in CSR because they view it as an expense that reduces their profit margins, good leaders however realize that CSR increases the company’s profitability in the end. Good leaders also take CSR seriously because they have a sense of responsibility and duty towards their society. On the other hand, a company may engage in many CSR activities, but if its leadership is perceived as unethical or corrupt by the public, then the company is automatically discredited as a good corporate citizen; the type of leadership of the company therefore has a major impact on the effectiveness of the CSR (Halle, 2008).

Organizational Sustainability

Sustainability is also an important theme in an organization that has the potential to act as a future employer. Sustainability involves the implementation of business practices that prompt ethicality and responsibility especially concerning the social, legal and environmental surroundings of the business. In addition to this, it also involves the pursuing of economic activities that are profitable and beneficial to the organization; yet do not have a negative influence the society, stakeholders or environment either currently or in future. Sustainability enables a company to demonstrate a higher level of CSR because it involves promoting a transparent environment between the organization and its stakeholders. The company’s efforts are directed towards making their profits in a manner that satisfies the needs of the environment and the stakeholders. For instance, the company may address the degradation of the environment by adopting alternative safe methods of waste disposal. Sustainability also involves promoting the utilization of the employees’ full potential. The organization should strive to create an environment where the employees will be able to grow, develop and achieve personal and career satisfaction. When the employees are contented and motivated, they are able to design and implement sustainable solutions to the company’s, stakeholders and environmental needs.

Sustainability also involves being flexible enough to adapt to new situations and make changes where necessary. This allows the company to incorporate technologies and methods that are efficient and effective. The company should opt for technologies and techniques that save the financially and environmentally economical. A company that is serious about enhancing sustainability should have a Sustainability Manager who is charged with developing and implementing sustainable alternatives for the company. Sustainability is major part of CSR because it involves the use of business techniques and technologies that are socially and environmentally viable. The best way for the company to achieve sustainability consistently is if it integrates sustainability into its products and services; the company must therefore be willing to take risks and innovate in order to develop sustainable products (Buchholtz et al., 2008).

Stakeholder Engagement

The third theme that is very crucial to an organization is stakeholder engagement. This involves the company interacting and talking to its various stakeholders, in order to develop its CSR initiatives, internally and externally. Stakeholder engagement is important because it gives the stakeholders a say into the running and execution of activities geared towards CSR, given that CSR is very important to the company’s performance and image. Stakeholder engagement is especially effective when a company is faced with contentious issues that require the input of the different stakeholders in the organization; the firm may also want to know the stakeholder’s view on a certain contentious issue (Blowfield & Murray, 2008). When a company initiates a stakeholder engagement, it is usually ready to implement the solutions that may arise from the dialogue. It helps the company cultivate business practices that are in line with the ethical and responsible social and environmental values and to enhance its competitiveness. Stakeholder engagement enables the company attain a higher level of corporate social responsibility because it enables the company to assess its CSR performance from the shareholder’s perspective, and implement the solutions that are discussed. Stakeholder engagement may also be used as a damage-control measure in order to come up with ideas that will rectify the company’s public image, especially where an event may have occurred that caused public outrage and criticism; a stakeholder engagement will assist in coming up with strong solution to its problems.

References

Aaronson, S. A. (January 01, 2007). A Match Made in the Corporate and Public Interest: Marrying Voluntary CSR Initiatives and the WTO. Journal of World Trade, 41, 3, 629.

Andriof, S., Waddock, B., & Rahman, S. S. (2003). Unfolding stakeholder thinking: Theory, responsibility and engagement. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf.

Blowfield, M., & Murray, A. (2008). Stakeholder partnerships. Corporate responsibility: A critical introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Boutilier, R. (2009). From social capital to inter-sectoral complementarity. Stakeholder politics: Social capital, sustainable development, and the corporation. Stanford, UK: Greenleaf.

Buchholtz, A., Brown, J., & Shabana, K. (2008). Corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.New York, NY: Crisp Publications.

Crane, A., McWilliams, D. Matted, J. Moon & D. Siegel. (2006). The Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Doh, J. P. Stumpf, S. A. (2005). Handbook on responsible leadership and governance in global business. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Finch, L. (1997). Success as a CSR. New York, NY: Crisp Publications.

Halle, M. (2008). New approaches to trade governance. State of the world 2008: Innovations for a sustainable economy. Hyattsville, Washington DC: Worldwatch.

Hopkins, M. (2006). Corporate social responsibility and international development: are corporations the solution? Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

May, G., Cheney, R., & Roper, J. (2004). The debate over corporate social responsibility. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

Mullerat, R. (2010). International corporate social responsibility: the role of corporations in the economic order of the 21st century. Austin, TX: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

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