In the present-day world, businesses hardly fit the stereotypical description that used to be predominant in the past. They are not insatiate companies seeking for a benefit at any sacrifice. The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become the leading characteristic studied by researchers, policymakers, and businesspersons (Carroll 87). The companies that make the public commitment to CSR are widely supported by consumers, governmental authorities, non-profit organizations, and other public and private actors (Pedersen 18).
In comparison, there is little doubt that corporate social irresponsibility is unwelcome. This paper examines corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility in four main areas: environment, philanthropy, ethical labor, and volunteering. The possible scenario of ignoring responsibilities to some stakeholders is considered. Finally, the conclusion concerning the role of CSR in the modern world is drawn.
First and foremost, corporate social responsibility may be defined as “the many ways in which companies choose to manage their business and conduct their efforts to create a positive and desirable impact on society in general” (Popa and Salata 137). In other words, businesses that aim at establishing proper relationships with society take actions to meet the necessary criteria and improve their internal policy in accordance with this urge. As for the corporate social irresponsibility, it refers to the failure to meet these expectations (Popa and Salata 140). If managers do not pay attention to social issues, society is likely to consider this company irresponsible. There are four major areas in terms of which one can judge companies’ responsibility: environment, philanthropy, ethical labor, and volunteering.
In the context of the climate changes and people’s actions that cause the negative environmental impact, the combined effort of every person and organization is vital. The matter of primary concern is that businesses have a large carbon footprint (Caramela par. 3).
Consequently, a responsible company is expected to reduce this impact and promote nature protection. For instance, Coca-Cola introduced community water programs intended to balance the usage of water during the production process (Coca-Cola par. 2). Unfortunately, there are also numerous examples of negative consequences. The oil sector is reportedly one of the most damaging: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Schlumberger, and many other companies bring much harm (Ho par. 4).
Philanthropy is another way for a company to prove its social responsibility. Although any business aims at the profit by definition, the attention to charity is still viewed positively in society. The case of TOMS shoes is illustrative: the company provides poor children with free shoes since customers who buy footwear donate a certain percentage of the costs (Montgomery par. 4). Such a strategy not only has a positive social impact but also brings benefits to the company because new clients are attracted by the idea that they can make a difference and help those in need. However, if a company does not work for charitable causes, it is not considered socially irresponsible.
Further, ethical labor issues are important. In terms of CSR, a company is supposed to treat employees fairly and ethically (Caramela par. 5). This principle implies not only appropriate wages and work time standards but also a friendly and responsible attitude towards every employee. This matter is particularly urgent in developing countries with low costs of labor, for example, in Africa or Asia. The prejudiced image of businesses that only strive for money is rooted, probably, in the presence of companies characterized by the social irresponsibility pertaining to labor.
The final group of activities that add up to the image of a responsible company is volunteering. This idea may be represented in many ways, from voluntary investments in social projects to direct participation and help when some social events occur (Popa and Salata 139). If a business does something from goodwill, it is likely to gain the prestige and become more attractive to partners and customers. Coca-Cola is known for its participation in the Annual International Coastal Cleanup (Coca-Cola par. 8). Lack of volunteering is not negatively viewed, but non-profit activities still make a great impact and appeal to society.
In my opinion, businesses should pay more attention to CSR issues. In addition to the ethical advantages, it is one of the most effective ways to attract new clients and improve customer loyalty. It is, in a way, advertising. As for the right to ignore responsibilities to some stakeholders in order to add to the short-term bottom line, I suppose a company may risk it within limits prescribed by law because the money and resources are the property of its owner. However, it is obvious that a company will not be supported by customers as much as a similar business that takes part in public life. Moreover, if a company breaks its promises, it will be hard to collaborate in the future.
To sum up, CSR is one of the significant aspects that every business should take into account. Environment, philanthropy, ethical labor, and volunteering are the key spheres in which it is possible to act. CSR is beneficial since goodwill may attract customers and partners.
Caramela, Sammi. “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” Business News Daily. 2016. Web.
Carroll, Archie B. “Corporate social responsibility: The Centerpiece of Competing and Complementary Frameworks.” Organizational Dynamics 44 (2015): 87-96. Print.
Coca-Cola. Environmental Initiatives. 2012. Web.
Ho, Ky Trang. “The 10 Biggest ‘Socially Irresponsible’ Industries.” Forbes. 2015. Web.
Montgomery, Mike. “What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Philanthropic Struggles of TOMS Shoes.” Forbes. 2015. Web.
Pedersen, Esben R. G. Corporate Social Responsibility. New York: Sage, 2015. Print.
Popa, Mirela, and Irina Salata. “Corporate Social Responsibility Versus Corporate Social Irresponsibility.” Management & Marketing 9.2 (2014): 137-146. Print.