Voluntary contributions to the development of society and addressing acute social topics are the significant aspects of the activities of modern business organizations. Many large companies are aware of the impact that they have, and their work involves not only making profits but also helping to solve pressing problems affecting different areas of life. This phenomenon called corporate social responsibility (CSR) is discussed both locally and globally, and the engagement of leading firms in this area implies potentially positive changes in different areas of life.
Lego Group, the world-famous Danish company specializing in the production and sales of building kits for children, is one of the market participants involved in CSR activities. The organization’s management takes appropriate measures to address current social issues, and, despite some limitations, the company has high CSR indicators in the international arena. Addressing the problems of improving waste management technologies, enhancing preschoolers’ cognitive skills, and advancing its internal working environment are the crucial aspects of Lego’s activities in the context of CSR work.
Lego’s Business Profile
Lego Corporation is a progressive and stably successful company that, despite its many years of work in the market, has not lost leading positions in its target industry. Conversely, the organization is constantly developing and implementing in-demand projects due to effective marketing policies and credibility in the international arena. According to Poon, in 2017, the Danish corporation outperformed its competitors in a number of criteria and was recognized as one of the most successful brands (76).
As the author remarks, such parameters were noted as business ethics, fair and transparent activities, environmental protection, and the advocacy of good ideas (Poon 76). For the company whose sales are aimed at children as the key target audience, these merits are significant and help maintain its global authority.
The implementation of CSR practices is a consequence of prevailing trends and competition. Poon states that sustainability policies introduced to increase the demand for Lego products enable the company to overcome the barriers caused by the activities of new market participants (84). At the same time, the management of the corporation considers it necessary to share its developments in the direction of responsible production since universal human problems and challenges of the near future require this.
The company’s work involves utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies and modern sales mechanisms, which allows it to maintain a consistently high demand, despite the activities of competing firms (Vashchenko 402). The history of Lego’s business is significant; the corporation was founded in 1932, and since then, its focus on the family audience has not changed (Poon 76). Implementing CSR principles in its activities is a natural movement towards innovation and production optimization.
Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a concept characterized by several significant benefits. For instance, CSR practices promoted by companies provide long-term prospects for the development of society, thereby contributing to positive changes and helping to solve pressing problems. For Lego, this benefit can be defined as a concern for environmental safety. According to Reestorff, the corporation aims to completely switch to alternative energy sources by 2020 and control the number of harmful emissions (38). This perspective is significant in the context of environmental pollution due to high industrial activities, and the Lego management intends to address this topic.
Another important advantage of CSR practices in the formation of moral standards in organizations through the establishment of positive relationships both among partners and competing companies. As Poon argues, Lego executives insist that companion firms should conduct safe operations complying with all corporate ethics principles (84). This advantage is important in conditions of global competition and the desire to suppress individual market participants. Addressing this issue can help maintain productive contacts among business companies.
Finally, the advantage that underlines the global importance of CSR in the business environment is addressing the changing needs and expectations of the general public to achieve positive interaction with the target audience. Reestorff notes that Lego, as one of the largest brands in its field, gives people an opportunity to participate in the formation of the assortment and evaluate products (33).
Due to such an approach, the population is involved in the feedback and suggestion system. This strategy allows describing the corporation in question as to the organization that cares about customers and takes into account the interests and needs of its clients. Therefore, the advantages of CSR practices are obvious and can be promoted as mandatory business strategies to increase business sustainability and, at the same time, help in the development of society.
Limitations of Corporate Social Responsibility
Despite the aforementioned advantages that can be achieved in business organizations by following CSR practices, some limitations may appear during this activity. In particular, as a deterrent, one can note the difficulty of assessing social problems due to the lack of objective and reliable information. Many managers are not able to accurately measure the effect of a specific social program. As Aagaard states, regardless of which CSR principles are promoted in Denmark, they may differ from those supported in other countries where Lego supplies its products (136). Therefore, the nuances associated with investing money are numerous, and there are many different subjective considerations.
The term CSR itself includes the concept of responsibility that may be extremely high when preparing plans and priorities for corporate social activities, which, in turn, is a limitation. Reestorff mentions Lego’s collaboration with Shell, a large oil and gas company, and notes that such a partnership can violate consumer confidence and, as a result, cause too high risks (39). This statement may be justified in view of the fact that Lego that positions itself as a green enterprise, assumes partial responsibility for Shell’s activities, which is unable to maintain environmentally friendly work due to the specifics of its business. Therefore, this aspect is essential to consider when determining the direction of social programs.
Another limitation of CSR that may cause challenges in regulating business activities is making too many efforts to achieve significant outcomes to the detriment of key work goals. For instance, Aagaard remarks that for the American market, donations are a common form of social responsibility (136). However, in relation to Lego’s activities, this approach may not be acceptable because, despite the financial success of the company, it may require funds to cover the objectives that it sets for itself. This, in turn, will entail a decrease in the productivity of the main work and cause deterioration in development indicators. Therefore, it is crucial to consider this limitation as to the factor that can affect profits negatively in case of the incompetent distribution of opportunities.
Lego’s Corporate Social Responsibility Activities
Corporate social responsibility activities promoted by Lego are, in many respects, consistent with the trends that are relevant today among large manufacturing companies. Moreover, according to Calero et al. in 2017, Lego was recognized as the brand with the highest reputation in the field of CSR, which is a significant achievement (442). As mentioned earlier, one of the organization’s activities is the transition to the use of sustainable raw materials and alternative energy sources to minimize wastes. As Reestorff notes, in 2015, the company announced the investment of one billion dollars in this project, which included research and analytical procedures, as well as the introduction of new operating principles (38). Such activities are common today in the face of environmental pollution and climate changes.
Another type of CSR practice that the Lego management supports in addressing educational needs, in particular, helping preschool children improve their cognitive skills and creativity. Poon argues that building kits produced by the company are aimed at the audience of different ages, and work in this direction helps establish interaction and address the needs of different population categories (73). The implementation of this program is carried out through an in-depth study of current educational trends and the creation of products that can not only meet clients’ entertaining interests but also carry educational functions. Thus, potential consumers’ psychosocial aspects of interaction are taken into account.
In the context of internal changes, Lego develops valuable CSR practices to strengthen employee interaction and improve the quality of work for all involved. According to Aagaard, the corporation aims to minimize absenteeism and any incidents occurring in the workplace by applying current safety standards (136). These goals are achieved through the establishment of productive communication among colleagues and the health control system. In the context of the volume of work performed at Lego, these practices help improve production performance and realize all the objectives as quickly as possible, which is important for activities in the international market.
When assessing the development prospects of Lego in the field of CSR, I can note that all its practices aimed at addressing social problems and internal changes are significant interventions. For instance, the work to reduce a negative impact on the environment is an objectively necessary activity since the threatening consequences of global warming and other ecological disasters are discussed at the international level. The social prospects of working to improve preschoolers’ cognitive skills and creativity are also essential for children whose psyche is subject to increased impact due to a large amount of digital information.
With regard to the internal changes promoted by the Lego management, in particular, the implementation of the health and safety control system, such activities are directly related to labor optimization and can increase employee performance. In a competitive environment and high market dynamics, engaging all available resources is an urgent task, and the corporation does everything possible to maintain subordinates’ loyalty and, at the same time, achieve productivity. Thus, all the CSR practices promoted by Lego are valuable initiatives that allow the company to maintain its high status.
CSR activities promoted at Lego are the crucial aspects of its sustainable work and help the corporation to maintain a high position in the market. The merits of working in this direction are significant, and despite some limitations that socially-oriented interventions can cause, addressing these topics underlines clear and valuable goals. The Lego management has enough resources to develop this area, and all those practices that are promoted today are necessary both in the contexts of interaction with the target audience and internal work processes.
Aagaard, Annabeth. Sustainable Business: Integrating CSR in Business and Functions. River Publishers, 2016.
Calero, Coral, et al. “Is Software Sustainability Considered in the CSR of Software Industry?” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, vol. 26, no. 5, 2019, pp. 439-459.
Poon, Stephen T. F. “LEGO as Learning Enabler in the 21st-Century Preschool Classroom: Examining Perceptions of Attitudes and Preschool Practices.” Journal of Urban Culture Research, vol. 17, 2018, pp. 72-87.
Reestorff, Camilla Møhring. “’ LEGO: Everything is not Awesome!’ A Conversation About Mediatized Activism, Greenpeace, Lego, and Shell.” Conjunctions. Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation, vol. 2, no. 1, 2015, pp. 21-43.
Vashchenko, Marina. “An External Perspective on CSR: What Matters and What Does not?” Business Ethics: A European Review, vol. 26, no. 4, 2017, pp. 396-412.