Corporate social responsibility refers to a category of business judgment making associated with principled values, fulfilment of legitimate requirements, and recognizing the values of respecting people, society and the environment. It relates to the execution of business in a manner that lives up to or exceeds the ethical, economical, legalized, and community expectations the society has from it. It is sometimes referred to as corporate accountability or corporate citizenship and is a conception which requires an institution to reflect on the interests of the social order by shouldering accountability for the influence of their actions on clients, providers, human resources, stockholders, humanity and the environment. This responsibility goes beyond the legal obligation to adhere to statute laws and requires corporations to willingly take further measures to promote the quality of verve for its workforce including their families as well and for the improvement of local community and humanity in the broader sense.
Providing a congenial workplace environment is an integral part of the corporate social responsibility on parts of the employer. It can reap huge benefits from this as providing an amiable atmosphere makes the employee feel more at home and feels comfortable. This allows the staff to work efficiently without experiencing discomfort, which could prove to be a hindrance in generating effective outputs. The Blundstone Footwear, a noted Australian company from Tasmania in designing and manufacturing footwear, recognizes its responsibility to present its employees with an appropriate work atmosphere and is devoted to make sure that a healthy and secure environment is sustained continuously. The firm, by means of proper scheduling, conducts regular audits on existing development plans with reference to the environment, working atmosphere and the competence of the Quality Control Systems. The employees are told to build up a better perception regarding the Environment along with the working environment through spur and contributory influence. The firm aspires to keep up a good repute through satisfied employees. The authority and employees are dedicated and revere contemporary policies and contracts of both internal as well as external nature. (Dahlsrud, 2008)
Stringent working hours in the corporate sector also takes its toll on the social life of employees. Thus, it is an imperative social responsibility of the authorities to take care that the sociable character of the staff is not undermined due to immense work pressures. Services of all employees should be exploited carefully and working hours should be flexible and limited for each employee to obtain an optimal performance output. The federal legislation at present with authorization limits 40 hours on the job per week for a non-exempt personnel without further recompense as the maximum. However, non-taxable or contractual recruits do not enjoy such benefits at present, which leads to a widespread inequality in the treatment of exempt employees. (Sarkar, 2007)
Forced overtime has also been a concerning issue in the recent past. This is viewed as a serious case of exploitation by the international communities as consequences of overtime contravention can be grim. In the late, 90’s Cochlear Limited, designer and supplier of medical implants in Australia, was accused for serious infringement of overtime laws. Even the CEO of Cochlear Limited at that time, Greg Evans, agreed that the brand name of the firm had become tantamount to forced overtimes. However, under immense pressure and criticism it publicized plans and new programs to develop working conditions in its factories across the globe and to present its employees with better opportunities. More recently, it committed to a motivated objective of eradicating the problem of disproportionate overtime issues for the employees in its supply chain by the year 2011 as a major goal in their corporate social responsibility report for the fiscal year of 2005-2006. (Dahlsrud, 2008)
As mentioned previously, ensuring the quality standards of the life an employee leads is an essential social duty of authorities. Proper designing of compensation packages are indispensable functions of the human resources department of each company. While designing these packages, the management must keep many factors in mind. It should ensure equal pay for jobs of comparable worth. It should analyze market conditions and existing standards of living and then design pay packages, which live up to or are competent enough to meet those standards. The firm should also be well versed with federal legislations and rights to equal pay. It should avoid discriminating on grounds that are set out by statute laws to stay away from lawsuits. Apart from this, like in the case of Cochlear Limited, corporations must ensure that employees in its supply chain receive proper compensation and help the workers receiving wages below subsistence in poor countries. (Sarkar, 2007)
Grievances are issues, anxieties, crisis or claims, which may be alleged or genuine that an employee desires to be attended to and resolved by the management of the firm. The firm has an obligation to design grievance procedures by means of which the members of the staff can bring up issues to the management. If not dealt with suitably these concerns may induce bitterness in employee relations, which may later develop into major rows. Grievance measures should seek to resolve a grievance practically, promptly and facilitate to avert minor differences converting into added severe disputes.
Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining are not viewed only as positive approaches for civil liberties and protection of rights of employees and for economic and communal progress. They are fundamental roots that preserve democracy and play a vital role in creating a secure and prolific society. Thus, it becomes an essential responsibility of the corporate world to value the factors that led to the development of the worldwide community and preserve the fundamental rights of the employees. (McElroy, 2008)
Corporate authorities around the globe are progressively turning their centre of attention on the health issues and welfare of their workforce. They are also analyzing how fitness issues are related to performance, employment, permanence and workplace spirits. These reflect a significant part of the incentive of the employers to engage in health promotion events at the workplace. For example, Henry Jones IXL, a major Australian sauce and jam company, is dedicated to observance of pertinent work-related health and safety laws and policies. In addition to that, it has put into action an Occupational Health and Safety Program to curtail the hazards of occupational injury and sickness at the place of work. (Dahlsrud, 2008)
Human rights are significantly vital for the economic, societal and ecological development about corporate activity. For instance, labour rights necessitating firms to provide reasonable wages influence the economic facet. Human rights related to non-discrimination bear vital significance on social aspects. Even the environmental features of corporate activity have their impact on a variety of human rights, like the right to uncontaminated drinking water. Although the primary task of enforcement of global human rights principles is the responsibility of national regimes it also needs to be acknowledged that international companies do play a key role in upholding human rights. (Arias, 2008)
Ethical concerns can crop up when firms must meet the terms of multiple and at times conflicting legitimate or cultural values, especially in the cases of multinational corporations, which work in nations with, diversified standards. The companies face the dilemma of, for instance, adhering to the legislation of the nation in which it is domiciled, or complying with the less strict rules of the country in which it operates. For example, American Federal Legislation prohibits any form of bribery: either nationally or overseas. However, in some parts of the globe, bribing is a routine, traditional and usual means of conducting business. Identical problems can arise pertaining to child labour, workforce security, on job durations, remunerations, inequality and environmental decrees as discussed in the paper. Until the very recent past, business ethics was a perception viewed only about organizational adherence to legal principles and compliance to internal legislations. However, the state of affairs has changed over time. Focus on business ethics is gaining momentum internationally and firms have become conscious and understand that success depends largely on the deference and assurance of their clients. Corporate managements are increasingly being encouraged and urged to enhance their business practices to accentuate legalized and ethical performance. Various organizations, professional firms and persons are all being held responsible for their activities with growing insistence for superior values of corporate social responsibility. (Dahlsrud, 2008)
Arias, A. O. (2008) ‘An interpretive systemic appraisal of corporate social responsibility and learning’, Systems Research and Behavioral Science; vol.25, no.3, pp.361-370.
Dahlsrud, A. (2008). ‘How corporate social responsibility is defined: an analysis of 37 definitions’, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, vol.15, no.1, pp.1-13.
McElroy, Mark W, Rene J. Jorna, Jo van Engelen. (2008). ‘Sustainability quotients and the social footprint’, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, vol.15, no.4, pp.223-234.
Sarkar, R. (2007). ‘Public policy and corporate environmental behaviour: a broader view’, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management vol.15, no.5, pp. 281-297.