We explain what corporate social responsibility is, its impact, background, and benefits. In addition, its characteristics and examples.
What is corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about a commitment, an ethic that companies acquire for social, environmental and economic improvement , in order to be more competitive, increase their added value and generate a positive social impact.
It has no meaning within the compliance with laws and legal regulations , it is a commitment that goes beyond. Instead, corporate social responsibility implies a position that arises from within corporations, which encompasses a set of practices, management systems and strategies in order to achieve a balance between the economic, environmental and social dimensions.
This would result in the assessment of the impact of their actions on the communities , on the environment and on the workers themselves, the real incorporation of their interests in their mechanisms of action and results. CSR management can be carried out from internal company departments , such as human resources , institutional relations, business development, or form an independent and specialized unit.
Characteristics of corporate social responsibility :
CSR is committed to generating a positive impact on the community and ecosystems.
When talking about social responsibility, it is pointed out that notions such as solidarity, social processes and environmental care in the business world intervene. It is not “charity”, it is a change in the structure, a new way of thinking about it: committing to generate a positive impact in the community and in the ecosystems.
In the 19th century, research began on how to reconcile business efficiency with democracy and distributive justice. This happened within the framework of associationism and cooperativism and resulted in social economy companies , that is, socially responsible companies.
Consumers are more loyal to companies with social concerns.
CSR commitments are very productive for business , since they give prestige, value to the brand and constitute an important differentiator in the market . Marketing studies show that consumers are concerned about ethical issues and the application of measures linked to job improvements.
CSR consolidates long-term sustainability , contingencies are reduced, consumers tend to be more loyal to those companies with social concerns and whose hiring tends to be oriented to permanence, a trait that makes employees value their work more .
Differences between CSR and ER
Corporate social responsibility and ethical responsibility are often used interchangeably, but keep in mind that corporations are more encompassing and integrate companies. On the other hand, social responsibility is not specific to companies or corporations ; it can mean collective and institutional interests.
The most important ethical responsibility is respect for human rights.
Corporate social responsibility supposes the fulfillment of ethical objectives that are assumed from the public and that must be implemented within the business, otherwise it will simply be a strategy to modify the reputation and not a real transformation. This means that the management of a company that is part of this commitment must reconcile business with community expectations.
The most important ethical responsibilities are respect for human rights at work, the environment, serving society through the production of useful products, compliance with laws, encouraging the equitable distribution of wealth, the correct use of water and energy in the company, collaboration and association measures, involving society in CSR practices, marketing to build reputation, fight against corruption and improve opportunities for the community where the company is located.
CSRs comply with the regulations agreed upon in the European Parliament (2007) regarding the social responsibility of companies, in addition to following the principles of tripartite responsibility of principles of multinational companies and social policies.
In turn, they assume a commitment more than compliance with national and international legislation: ILO, United Nations Standards on Responsibilities of Transnational Companies, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and OECD legislation for multinational companies.
The public debate considers it dangerous that companies only seek to increase profits.
That multinational companies get involved in political and social issues is, according to their power and position, a very delicate matter. Due to its influence, it can entail the danger of using what is an end as a simple means . But the public debate also considers it dangerous that they are solely dedicated to increasing profits. This tension is known as “Goodpaster and Mathews Dilemma”.
The measurement of CSR is carried out through reports that the entities themselves carry out or through the sum of news about issues related to them. The truth is that there is currently no generalized standard to accept the measurement of CSR.
However, the PROhumana Business Sustainability Ranking is used by companies to measure their sustainability programs and the state of their social policies.
Engagement implies the creation of a bond between consumer and brand.
CSR measures are characterized not only by generating a positive impact at a social level, but also by seeking to ensure an emotional connection with consumers; both processes can be said to go together.
This means that the approach to society has to be done in a creative way . Engagement implies the creation of this bond between consumer and brand, beloved brands, which also affects the interest of employees and suppliers.
Among the examples of CSR, McDonalds and Nestlé can be mentioned as two benchmarks of social commitment:
- McDonald’s aims to dominate the fast food industry through innovation and creativity , building a “big family” of workers to meet the needs of its customers, in a clean, safe and friendly environment.
- Nestlé guarantees environmental sustainability, the proper use of water and open communication with its consumers, in addition to effectively considering Human Rights.
Other examples are Lego, which responds favorably to the gender problem with the creation of women scientists among its toys, Dove, which conducts self- esteem classes (especially for women) in schools through its promoters, and Coca Cola , in whose strongholds the concern for happiness and friendship stands out, in addition to constituting sustainability policies: for example, “Plantbottle” is a PET bottle that is made up of up to 30% of materials obtained from plants.
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