WHAT IS CSR?
CSR stands for corporate social responsibility. CSR is about business: it is primarily about entrepreneurs and companies, not citizens, consumers or the Government.
Corporate Social Responsibility means that companies (want to) carry responsibility for social problems such as air pollution, climate change, working conditions or aging. CSR begins with that companies try to make these problems not bigger than they already are. Entrepreneurs who go a step further, strive to contribute to solve these problems. In addition to this it is good to know that more often then less, this can be very profitable.
Companies that incorporate social responsibility, keep in mind the social impacts of their activities. This applies to all company processes: both for purchasing, production, sales and maintenance as for HRM and marketing communication. That is why CSR is not a project, but a comprehensive vision on the core activities of a company.
INTERESTS OF SOCIETY
How do you know if you’re socially responsible? That’s not so easy to anwer, because society is constantly changing and there is something different expected from companies all the time. What is accepted today, is taboo tomorrow, and what we think is perfectly normal here in the UK, is very strange in Brazil or China. CSR guidelines can help, but especially the continuous tuning of business decisions in the interests of society is ultimately the most important feature of CSR. Corporate social responsibility means that you as a company work in a way that is considered responsible by society. That means that entrepreneurs that have a corporate social responsibility policy, are growing consciously and are looking for ways to improve their business.
Companies have several reasons to look at CSR. A multiple of motives play a role. We distinguish three of them:
CSR BECAUSE IT PAYS OFF
CSR contributes to the financial performance of companies, especially calculated over the longer term. The market works: the demand for sustainable products and services is on the increase. A saving in energy consumption or the use of raw materials can be lucrative. The companies involved have better motivated employees, with the productivity increases in labour.
CSR BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE DONE
Sometimes, companies are forced to do more with CSR, usually under pressure from large buyers like the Government or large companies, or by incidents such as consumer boycotts, media scandals or strikes. Companies who do not comply with the minimum social standards, are losing their ‘license to operate’. Companies that work socially responsible, have less trouble.
CSR BECAUSE IT’S EXPECTED
Not only financial considerations or external pressure play a role in CSR. Many companies do it because they want to do decent business. They want to contribute to the society, deal with their staff in a pleasant way and don’t damage the environment too much. They do CSR, because they feel that they should. Very often they look at it when they get their environmental accreditation like ISO 14001 in place.