Far from being the novel concept it was in the last century, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now being integrated into the business models of most companies. For those unfamiliar, the basic premise behind CSR or corporate conscience activities is for businesses to extend their presence from being mere commercial entities into companies with positive social impact.
Corporate social responsibility can be done through social entrepreneurship where a company’s practices, products, and services are developed in order to solve social problems. Some successful social enterprises are the Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization dedicated to the financial empowerment of the poor; Newman’s Own, actor Paul Newman’s salad dressing company which gives 100 percent of profits and royalties to charities; and Toms, which gives out one pair of shoes to a person in need for every one pair sold. Company policies that espouse environmentally sound initiatives in developing products, support job creation, and contribute to economic improvement are also considered socially responsible.
In addition to benefiting the communities being served, having policies like these could also benefit the companies themselves. For instance, many investors offer support to companies with well-developed CSR programs precisely for the reason that values-driven businesses are more attractive. Now that people are becoming socially aware, it’s become imperative for people to incorporate this consciousness into their buying attitudes, as seen through the proliferation of companies who proudly display their fair-trade, local-sourcing practices. Media outlets are quick to recognize businesses with philanthropic endeavors as they are to chastise those on the other end of the spectrum. CSRs create goodwill and shine a positive light on companies that include such programs in their operations.
Furthermore, many workers find that companies with high regard for values consistent with CSR are generally positive working environments. This leads to improved productivity and employee longevity.
The necessity of corporate social responsibility only increases with time. As more people begin to realize the importance of knowing how one’s actions affect the environment and society, CSR programs become truly essential to a company’s image and lifespan.