What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Q: What is it and why should I care about it?

A: Corporate Social Responsibility includes those initiatives that assess and manage the company’s effects on the environment and impact on social welfare. The term generally applies to company efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.

Corporate social responsibility may also be referred to as “corporate citizenship” and can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.

This is a relatively newer concept. Here are some ways companies should engage in corporate social responsibility:

  1. Cost savings– One of the easiest places to start engaging in corporate sustainability is to find a way to cut costs. Whether it’s using less packaging or less energy, these savings add up quickly and consumers feel good buying products that care about the world in which they live.
  2. Innovation– Necessity is the father of invention and when companies research innovative ways to cut costs, they sometimes have the added bonus of making positive changes in product design and efficiency.
  3. Brand differentiation– If you have a choice to buy a product that as part of its CSR efforts provides elementary school children with healthy snacks or the similar product that does not, which would you choose.
  4. Employee engagement– It is how the country’s largest companies have a leg up on recruiting the best talent. Even if the employees don’t participate in the CSR efforts directly, they feel good working for companies that give back.

Many companies do this already, and billions of dollars are spent and saved by companies taking part in being socially conscious and helpful participants of change for the greater good.  Generally agreed upon socially positive practices include:

  • Fair trade tea and coffee
  • Dolphin safe tuna
  • Grass fed, free roaming livestock for beef and milk
  • Cage-free chickens for eggs and meat
  • Organic and cruelty-free farming practices
  • Recycling paper and plastics in packaging products
  • Recycling computers, cell phones, tv and stereo components
  • Cloud computing saves paper, computers, and costly/unnecessary hardware production.
  • Working from home, and becoming officeless can also help lower your impact on the environment. If you can do your job from any computer than why waste space?

Both small businesses and corporations are made up of owners, investors, and employees, and sometimes the individuals who make up a company will come together and help those in need. Philanthropy and donating to the greater good is a noble way to help the world either as an individual or as a corporation. Companies are mainly set up to make money, and when companies can make money and give back, it is a great thing.

A few forward-thinking technology based methods of philanthropy and donating are easy to do and help all of us. Companies that embrace social responsibility are ahead of the curve. By setting your priorities first, your company doesn’t have to respond to crisis or bad press in relation to socially conscious causes and individuals.

All of the examples above have made a major impact on how businesses operate and where customers spend their money. Being responsible means taking account for all of your operations and all of your wastes and by products, and giving back when possible. Changing your company can also change you as a person, and helping others has a multiplying effect that spreads and when you are in need of help someone may return the favor you gave to others. A boomerang effect exists in all charitable giving and philanthropy and whatever you give out will return in some form or another back to you.

What does your company do in their CSR efforts?