The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is arguably one of those terms that can mean almost anything to anyone. But, if approached from the right angle and in the right attitude it can be a powerful force for good, not only advancing causes normally beyond the remit of a company but also benefiting the company itself.

 

For some capitalist purists CSR may be seen as a distraction from the primary role of a company; as a generator of profit. Nevertheless, even this pure business case does not stand up to scrutiny as CSR can have a positive impact on recruitment and retention of staff, can limit the risk of, among other things, scandals and environmental incidents and thereby help attract finance, and by creating an ethical brand a company can attract the consumers that shop from an ethical standpoint.

 

There are many different ways that companies can approach CSR, from giving to charitable causes or supporting local services such as schools or hospitals, to reducing their carbon footprint. And in this globalised world, with very close trading links, the responsibility is not confined to the one company. Importers should be aware of their supply chains, the conditions in which their products are made and the impact this can have on the country of origin.

 

When a structurally unsafe building collapsed killing 1,129 garment makers in Bangladesh in 2013 retailers in the industrialised world were forced to scrutinise their supply chains. CSR should reach further than their own company and should instead take into account the impact of the entire business operation including the working practices of their supply chain. This includes the impact of the supply chain on both the environment and human resources.

 

Globalisation may have enabled the exploitation of workers in developing countries to a far greater extent than ever before but it has also given concerned global citizens, through the internet, social media and via non-governmental organisations the tools to access information about the products they buy and the companies that sell them. It has also given them a global platform on which to campaign for greater CSR in the supply chain.

 

CSR evaluation can be complex with many different approaches from which to choose. For example, the ‘triple bottom line’ approach, also known as the three Ps, takes into account the full cost of doing business on ‘people, planet and profit’. It is seen as a measure of sustainability.

 

ISO, the International Organisation for Standardisation, has created an international standard for social responsibility, the ISO 26000. It is a voluntary set of guidelines for all organisations, not just businesses, to encourage them to improve their impact on workers, the natural environment and communities. Alongside these international guidelines are, among others, those set down by the United Nations Global Compact, the International Labour Organisation, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the European Commission.

 

As suppliers, buyers, investors, governments and consumers start to question the ethical stance of the organisations with which they do business, CSR is becoming a financial imperative, as well as an ethical one. Companies in-tune with their entire business operation now realise that adopting a CSR approach makes good business sense.

 

Here at Resonate we take our CSR responsibilities very seriously and we put CSR at the heart of our business.

 

 

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