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Butler R.

“Corporate Social Responsibilities in the
Modern World”
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) promotes a vision of business
accountability to a wide range of stakeholders, besides shareholders and investors.
Key areas of concern are environmental protection and the wellbeing of employees,
the community and civil society in general, both now and in the future.

The concept of CSR is underpinned by the idea that corporations can no
longer act as isolated economic entities operating in detachment from broader
society. Traditional views about competitiveness, survival and profitability are being
swept away.

In the past, governments have relied on legislation and regulation to deliver
social and environmental objectives in the business sector. Shrinking government
resources, coupled with a distrust of regulations, has led to the exploration of
voluntary and non-regulatory initiatives instead. There is a growing demand for
corporate disclosure from stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, employees,
communities, investors, and activist organizations.

Corporate social responsibility has become one of the standard business
practices of our time. For companies committed to CSR it means kudos and an
enhanced overall reputation – a powerful statement of what they stand for in an
often cynical business world.

The establishment of a CSR strategy (sometimes referred to as a
sustainability strategy) is a crucial component of a company’s competiveness and
something that should be led by the firm itself. This means having policies and
procedures in place which integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights or
consumer concerns into business operations and core strategy – all in close
collaboration with stakeholders.

For companies, the overall aim is to achieve a positive impact on society as a
whole while maximizing the creation of shared value for the owners of the business,
its employees, shareholders and stakeholders.

CSR-orientated companies had a higher level of employee engagement and
provided a markedly better standard of customer service. And yet, despite the
positivity and optimism that CSR brings to the corporate table, companies do not
always accept their responsibilities in this area in good heart, with a fair number
admitting to having adopted CSR mainly as a marketing gimmick. In some cases,
firms may have been coerced into adopting CSR and did so with insufficient
enthusiasm and vigor, leaving many of them to ponder what they could and should
have done differently.

NGOs and others) must be implemented to carry out the agreed CSR programme. and within which broader corporate financial returns need to be secured. . Nevertheless. suppliers. reputation and legal risk they face. decent working hours. The factors driving companies to pursue a CSR agenda are fairly consistent across the corporate world. It is not only the State that polices companies in the modern world. As CSR programmes continue to evolve and extend their reach. abolition of child labour and protection against discrimination are just some of the trade union issues that fall within any reasonable definition of CSR. Trade unions cannot be considered NGOs in the normally understood sense of the term. there are no hard and fast rules governing CSR. there is much that is familiar to trade unions in the CSR debate. basic health and safety standards. workers fear that there will be a race to the bottom as far as wages and conditions are concerned. But if competition has increased. the costs related to CSR should not be expected to demonstrate traceable financial gains. many would question whether this financially-orientated approach is not somewhat at odds with what the core aims of a CSR programme are supposed to be. CSR policies should set the ‘rules of the game’ which the company concerned has established. Whether a force for good or an exercise in brand enhancement. The problem arises when companies attempt to measure the financial results of their CSR policies independent of their other corporate activities. in that labor-intensive industries – other things being equal – tend to locate where labour is cheapest. what cannot be denied is that CSR is very much an integral part of the global business landscape. in response. Furthermore. The more companies understand the growing resilience. so has scrutiny of companies. a plan (involving a lot of engagement with employees. Trade unions are. Ultimately. CSR is today typically associated with the concept of sustainable development or “sustainability”. it may well become the case that companies find themselves under added pressure to have their CSR initiatives deliver a strong financial result. however. Social wages. However. once a company makes the decision to adopt CSR orientated activities. Others are not convinced that organizations are feeling extra pressure due to a need to demonstrate stronger financial outcomes in conjunction with their CSR activities. there is also an active and informed non-governmental organizations (NGO) community which increasingly performs this function. This fear has some basis. If this is indeed true. As competition increases amongst companies. managers. developing their sustainability agendas and linking these with improved and extended CSR. the more opportunities our globalized and connected world has to offer them. CSR also embraces a range of topics that have until recently not been part of the traditional trade union agenda – or only peripherally a part of it. because of the vested interests of their members in the success of companies in which they work. Rather. CSR policies need to be considered as a core and inseparable component of the overall service or product offering.