Sustainability has become more than just a buzzword, there is an increasing demand from a variety of stakeholders for companies to operate in a sustainable way. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is when a company conducts business in an ethical and sustainable way. This means being accountable for their social, economic and environmental impact on society beyond it’s legal obligations. Consumers are increasingly prioritising sustainability as an essential corporate aspect.
As the expectations on CSR increase, companies are recognising the need to act on sustainability. CSR can provide opportunities to increase their competitive advantages. By being responsible a company can build their brand. CSR is also essential to building and maintaining trust between the consumer and the company. Consumers are said to be more likely to purchase from a company that engages with and aims to improve society through corporate responsibility. Companies that address CSR are building relationships that can have a positive impact on the buying decisions of consumers.
CSR can refer to a variety of actions, one being economic responsibility. Economic responsibility focuses on facilitation of long-term growth for a company, whilst also taking into consideration society. By balancing economic decisions and the effects on society, companies can improve their operations whilst also being sustainable.
Corporate Philanthropic is the form of donations of time, money or resources towards a good cause. It is driven by the effort to drive social change with a defining characteristic of being voluntary. Many companies donate money to causes for example, Microsoft’s Bill Gates donated billions of dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This foundation supports a variety of causes from education to the development of agriculture.
Social sustainability is a concept which companies must consider. The decisions of a company can affect stakeholders in a range of ways. The social aspect of CSR concerns the ethical standards and values of the communities of which a company operates. It is essential doing the right thing by all levels of your company, this can range from ensuring employees are paid by the national standards to ensuring fair trade.
Environmental CSR aims to reduce the damaging effects on the environment. Companies play a role in leading the way for social change. Environmental CSR can reduce business risk by ensuring a positive brand reflection whilst also reducing costs. There are simple energy efficient measures that can be taken to make a difference such as; reducing the amount of paper wasted and switching lights off when not in use. Utilising sustainable methods prevents the waste of natural resources.
A commitment to CSR is required in order to make a change. CSR can affect the company both internally and externally. Why not use today (Earth Day) that is now celebrated globally by more than 1 billion people in 192 countries, as the opportunity to kick start sustainability within your company?