Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a generic term to describe conducting business in an ethical and sustainable way. In effect, companies who are socially responsible choose to self- regulate the way they run their businesses.

Corporate social responsibility involves monitoring the impact that the business has on the environment, employees, customers, communities and other stakeholders. Corporate social responsibility also involves setting and adhering to standards to protect the public sphere - regardless of what is legal.

Corporate social responsibility is sometimes referred to as operating with a ‘triple bottom line’. For such companies, people, planet and profit are all high priorities. Typically companies that operate with a triple bottom line are taking a longer term view compared to those who just focus on short term profits.

Over the last decade, globalisation has been a key factor in raising awareness and stimulating debate about the impact that companies are having upon the environment and upon communities.

During this same time period, many consumers have also become more concerned about whether the methods of manufacture of the products they are buying are ethical.

Corporate social responsibility has both its advocates and its detractors. Proponents believe that there is a strong business case for CSR. The perceived benefits are that CSR can enhance the company’s reputation, build customer loyalty and enable survival over the long term by using resources in a sustainable fashion and limiting the impact the business has on the environment. 

However, those who oppose the concept of CSR suggest that it is merely an attempt to pre-empt government regulation.

US And European Approaches To Corporate Social Responsibility

Approaches to corporate social responsibility tend to differ between the United States and Europe. In the US there is a history of companies focusing fairly single-mindedly on making profits and then, after paying their taxes, making donations to charitable foundations. This is sometimes called the philanthropic approach.

In Europe, corporate social responsibility has tended to be more about the values with which the company operates. For such European companies, taking a socially responsible view is a fundamental part of the decision making process within the business. The impact on all stakeholders and the environment is assessed every time a decision is made.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Business Benefits.

Now that issues about the environment, sustainability and business ethics have come under the spotlight, a company needs to have a position on corporate social responsibility. This does not necessarily mean it has to have a fully worked up strategy and plan, nor does it mean that a company has to follow the triple bottom line approach. However, we suggest that any organisation needs to be ready to respond to any enquiries from shareholders, consumers and the media on questions relating to corporate social responsibility.

Furthermore, investing time in developing a position on corporate social responsibility is often time well spent. Through the process of developing a CSR strategy the specific benefits of becoming more socially responsible may emerge:-

  • Risks to operations may be identified. Also risks to the company’s reputation may emerge. For example, workers’ conditions in overseas supplier organisations. If you identify these things and deal with them you may avert a PR disaster.
  • The opportunity to improve employee recruitment and retention through the organisation demonstrating it has values that are aligned with those of its employees.
  • The opportunity to differentiate the organisation. In many markets where products and services are similar, a responsible attitude to business can help differentiate.

 E.g. Divine, a fair-trade chocolate brand has carved out a niche in the highly competitive chocolate market, through its ethical approach to business.

Why Choose Anatellô To Help You With Corporate Social Responsibility?

Doing business in a more responsible way can deliver significant business benefits over the long term. However, often in the short term more has to be achieved for less.

For example, you may discover that you need to replace your ‘lowest cost supplier’ because that company has employment practices that do not align with your own organisation’s CSR strategy.

Or perhaps you may incur costs to reduce emissions from factories, or to replace packaging materials with those that come from more sustainable sources.

Creative thinking and creative problem solving can play a key role in helping you develop an effective strategy and plan for corporate social responsibility while minimising any adverse effect on margins.

The issues that surround corporate social responsibility get to the heart of who we are as people and what we value. In developing a corporate social responsibility policy there may be contradictory views within your organisation or among board members.

Anatellô can help you with corporate social responsibility by offering:-

  • A facilitated process to help you explore the issues surrounding corporate social responsibility for your company and develop a CSR position or a full strategy and plan.
  • An effective process for sharing your corporate social responsibility strategy within your whole organisation. In this way you can gain feedback, overcome concerns and gain buy-in.