Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) entails the efforts that are made by organizations in a bid to meet economic and social demands. This practice has raised international concern in the last decade. Numerous theorists have adopted several CSR definitions. At the outset, it is a practice that is defined by a company’s overall involvement in activities that actively contribute towards the improvement of the quality of people’s lives. Corporate social responsibility is a vital subject matter in the contemporary global business community. It is increasingly becoming a conventional activity amongst organizations. The undertakings of the private sector have a meaningful effect on the employees, customers, society, environment, competitors, business associates, investors, shareholders, governments, and marginalized groups among other stakeholders. CSR is now regarded as an essential element of both the present and future social policies. Businesses form indispensable parts of the societies in which they function. Exceptional business leaders understand that establishing amicable and sustainable relationships with other organizations and groups underpin the long-term success of their enterprises. Unsuccessful societies cannot support the prosperity of any business. Therefore, corporations ought to show concern for their internal and external environments to promote the co-existence of different business elements. For instance, consumers expect genuine goods and services that are offered at reasonable prices and echoing their social environment. Employees seek worthy terms of payment and suitable working conditions. Also, shareholders are on the lookout for viable and advanced economic performance that connects the social and environmental elements based on the available business opportunities.
Analyzing core CSR Issues
In the book ‘Life Inc.’, Douglas Rushkoff illustrates how corporates have explicitly exhibited social irresponsibility and unethical business practices. The wealthy people were only concerned about the prosperity of their enterprises. They infrequently considered marginalized stakeholders such as workers and the society that affected the daily operations of the business (Glavas & Kelley, 2014). CSR to these business people was defined by practices that would attract benefits to them and their businesses. The premise behind this behavior is that there exists an ambiguity in the description of what corporate social responsibility means. The concept of CSR was traditionally referred to as social philanthropy, which chiefly aimed at the interests of the enterprise stakeholders such as staff, employees and their families. The society did not feature anywhere in the objectives of these businesses activity (De C., Simone; H. Adrian Sarasvathy, S. 2014). Issues such as carbon emissions and other environmental pollution caused by industrial enterprises were not addressed by corporations. Also, activities that caused environmental degradation received as long as the business people reaped benefits from them.
CSR in the Contemporary Society
Today, CSR has become a core component of most businesses. Both national and local governments have recognized and enforced it in modern institutions. The traditional corporate culture where businesspersons only addressed issues based on self-interest has been phased out. Practices that violate human or environmental ecosystems are highly punishable by the law. Business organizations across the globe have come to realize the importance of adopting socially responsible behavior and practices (Santoso et al., 2014). An appropriate and efficient association between the organizations and their stakeholders builds a stable reputation in the market segment. In countries or organizations where CSR has not been implemented, there is a need to train personnel and disseminate accurate information with a view of educating them on the necessity, objectives, and benefits of CSR. The promising trend in the wake of globalization is that organizations have shown efforts towards the implementation of CSR initiatives. Nowadays, CSR is not just about planting trees or engaging in charity events but also entails business mandates that promote the operations of the company (De Colle, Henriques, & Sarasvathy, 2014).
An increased number of companies have realized the significance of integrating CSR initiatives into their business objectives. The old-fashioned profit accumulation goals of companies have been reviewed. As a result, contemporary companies work with the community in mind. Transparent engagement in friendly production methods is a fundamental practice in the modern-day business world. CSR forms a central part of the corporate strategy. Companies have teams that develop definite plans, procedures, and objectives regarding CSR programs. Initiatives involve funding by the companies to support the programs. De Colle et al. (2014) reveal that most CSR programs are aligned with the specific industry in which the organization operates. Employees who volunteer their time and skills to implement such packages guide the initiatives. CSR Programs include community development, support for education, environment, and healthcare among others (De Colle et al., 2014).
Market Place Issues
Organizations are producers of goods and providers of services to prospective buyers. However, the knowledge about consumer behavior and their expectations on the products offered is paramount to the creation of a balance between the internal and external stakeholder environments. Customers are increasingly demanding more quality services that are generated using safe methods. Despite the demand for better prices and quality of products, they claim value that matches their prospects (Santoso et al., 2014). Various issues that are evident in the market include the impact of core products and services on the society, ethical business practices, socially ethical product marketing campaigns, and proper treatment of the supply chain among others. A business reputation can be ruined by depraved practices or fatal errors that affect the society adversely.
As much as organizations need to maximize profits, their activities must be environmentally conscious. The amount of wasteful energy output into the environment has been a major concern over the last two decades since the development of climate change has had adverse effects on the human population. Environmental pollution forms an integral part of contemporary business practices. As part of CSR, organizations ought to show concern for the environment by minimizing adverse contributions.
Employees are vital assets in organizations. The way company employees are treated and the nature of working conditions leverage the overall success of the businesses. Issues that pertain to labor, wages, benefits, and employee welfare are termed as internal CSR roles of the organizations.
Organizations should perform business activities in ways that are acceptable by society. Also, they should show concern for marginalized groups in the society who need their support. Organizations that show no concern for society cannot thrive in the contemporary world where people have become aware of their rights and the social responsibilities of corporations. Therefore, the way organizations relate to the societal needs and responsibilities of communities will determine the success of their ventures.
Proposed Initiatives That Corporations need to Undertake to Address CSR Issues
For business enterprises to realize sustainable success, they need to address the aforementioned corporate social responsibilities issues. CSR involves all the activities that are geared towards the management of a business. Such practices range from stakeholder engagement and management, relationships with the suppliers, consumer, and customer relations to labor relations, corporate governance, human resources, and environmental management (Santoso et al., 2014). The corporates and their employees undertake CSR initiatives without a government’s hand. Businesses need to embark on various initiatives to achieve corporate social responsibility.
Community development is an undertaking that corporations should not underestimate. For lasting social benefits to prevail, enterprises must involve the society that surrounds them. Civil society is an important social and economic force that has the potential to create freedom, fairness, and global order that businesses need to thrive. With social instability, no business can be successful. Therefore, business executives must come up with robust strategies that benefit the local community. These strategies focus on helping marginalized groups, the weak stakeholders who are considered paramount for successful CSR (Glavas & Kelley, 2014). Helping women, the poor and other the disadvantaged members of the society builds the reputation of organizations. Thus, enterprises must come up with policies and allocate resources to implement them with a view to capacity building and community development. CSR projects undertaken by corporations include pollution prevention, provision of sanitary services, offering employment for the local community, healthcare initiatives. Some organizations have been involved in undertaking educative services on health, best farming practices, and training on the use of new machinery or technology that can help communities in increasing production among other economic activities. Nevertheless, a majority of civil society organizations face similar challenges that hinder and/or limit their effectiveness in community engagement (Santoso et al., 2014). These challenges are internal and managerial including and not limited to the ability to control human and financial resources, feeble sponsorship abilities, and inadequate management ability. These challenges hamper the ability of the organizations to scale up promising innovations and results to achieve a broad impact.
Organizations need to measure outcomes to make a distinction between successes from failures. Hence, management that is geared towards the achievement of results is a central focus of the global revolution in managing public aid and its effectiveness. Adopting vibrant and robust performance monitoring systems will help to create a strategy that ensures learning, proper communications with stakeholders, and oversee that resource allocation remain focused on core results as well as enhancing answerability. Organizational leaders ought to provide the necessary skills and incentives to promote successful CSR. The overall goals of performance management include program supervision to ensure the attainment of key results, encourage learning and accountability. Also, all stakeholders must be enabled and their capacities enhanced at both organizational and individual levels, to increase the potential of attaining the objectives of the CSR scheme.
The chief aim of program evaluation is to provide the platform necessary for learning, accountability, and focusing strategy to assess if the initiated programs have the desired goals such as helping the poor, educating communities on health issues among other CSR activities. Organizations need to evaluate their programs to measure the level of efficacy, relevance, effectiveness, sustainability and the impact of development activities. Impact evaluation helps in a better understanding of the extent of achievement of the desired goals. If inefficiency is noted, there is a need to change tact to ensure the programs are effective. Program evaluation involves several undertakings. A systematic assessment of the impact of CSR activity, on individual households, institutions, and environment is done to ascertain the effectiveness of the programs. Impact assessment is vital as it ensures that organizations do not pump resources that do not have achieved the desired objectives. Moreover, program assessment should focus on improving the quality of implementation, outcomes, and programs during the project life. Programs must also be evaluated with a view of fostering engagement, learning, and empowerment among the local stakeholder groups.
Organization managers will need to follow up on the CSR initiatives to ensure that resource allocation and opportunities are allocated fairly. Besides addressing such issues as poverty alleviation, education and health issues, as part of CSR initiatives, organizations need to ensure fairness and equity. Instances of unfairness can spark community conflicts that will threaten the peaceful co-existence and survival of the business activity (De Colle et al., 2014). Some communities can feel alienated and discriminated in cases where opportunities are provided with bias. Since community development activities are guided by organization employees, management must follow up to evaluate to ascertain fairness to achieve the set CSR goals.
From the aforementioned discussion, corporate social responsibility is inevitably an old subject matter. However, the perception of CSR today is a complete contrast to what the phenomenon meant to the corporations of the 19th Century. In his narrative stories, Douglas Rushkoff reveals the traditional practice that prevailed during at the time. Substantial modern literature shows that corporate social responsibility is necessary in the modern business world. Today, chief executive officers, CEOs take a leading role incorporating CSR in their priority agenda. Issues to do with the stakeholders both active and marginalized have been addressed. Community development is a corporate strategy that many organizations undertake.
De Colle, S., Henriques, A., & Sarasvathy, S. (2014). The paradox of corporate social responsibility standards. Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 177-91.
Glavas, A., & Kelley, K. (2014). The Effects of Perceived Corporate Social Responsibility on Employee Attitudes. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(2), 165-202.
Santoso, A., Himawan, F., & Yie, K. (2014). The Association between Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Financial Performance. Issues in Social & Environmental Accounting, 8(2), 82-103.