What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to strategies that firms employ in their corporate governance that are ethical, societally friendly, and beneficial to its community. In other words, corporate social responsibility is a firm’s commitment to being socially responsible and in-line with public expectations.
Categories of CSR
Although corporate social responsibility is a very broad concept that is understood and implemented differently by each firm, the underlying purpose of CSR is to operate in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner.
Generally, corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by a firm fall into four categories:
#1. Environmental responsibility
Environmental responsibility initiatives taken by a firm can involve reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the sustainable use of natural resources.
#2. Human rights responsibility
Human rights responsibility initiatives taken by a firm can involve providing fair labor practices (i.e., equal pay for equal work), fair trade practices, and disapproving child labor.
#3. Philanthropic responsibility
Philanthropic responsibility initiatives taken by a firm can involve funding educational programs, supporting health initiatives, donating to worthy causes, and supporting community beautification projects.
#4. Economic responsibility
Economic responsibility initiatives taken by a firm involves improving the firm’s business operation while participating in sustainable practices. For example, using a new manufacturing process to minimize wastage.
Business Benefits of CSR
In a way, corporate social responsibility can be seen as a public relations effort. However, it goes beyond that; corporate social responsibility can boost a firm’s competitiveness. The business benefits of corporate social responsibility include:
#1. Stronger brand image, recognition, and reputation
CSR adds value to firms by establishing and maintaining a good corporate reputation and/or brand equity.
#2. Increased customer loyalty and sales
Customers of a firm that practices CSR feel that they are helping the firm support a cause.
#3. Operational cost savings
Investing in operational efficiencies results in operational cost savings and reduced environmental impact.
#4. Retaining key and talented employees
Employees stay longer and are more committed to their firm knowing that they are working for a business that practices CSR.
#5. Easier access to funding
Investors are more willing to support a business that practices CSR.
#6. Reduced regulatory burden
Strong relationships with regulatory bodies can reduce a firm’s regulatory burden.
Example of CSR in Canada
In Canada, mining companies often engage with Aboriginal communities and groups. Converting land sites into mines can cause a significant environmental impact on the aboriginal communities living near the sites. Several Canadian mining companies engage in corporate social responsibility with local communities to ensure that the adverse effects are minimized.
- Cameco Corporation oversees education programs directed towards northern and Aboriginal peoples through their northern Saskatchewan five-pillar strategy.
- Goldcorp Inc. strives to make a positive impact on their communities by supporting education and health initiatives and sponsorship of special events.
- Softrock Minerals Ltd. contributes money for festivals, schools, and projects.
CSR of Starbucks
Starbucks is a well-known firm that practices corporate social responsibility. As indicated by the company: “Starbucks’ social corporate responsibility and sustainability is about being responsible and doing things that are good for the planet and each other.”
Starbucks’ CSR initiatives include:
- Starbucks Youth Action Grants: Awarding grants to inspire and support youth action.
- Ethos Water Fund: Raising awareness and providing children with access to clean water.
- Ethical Sourcing: Committed to buying and serving ethically traded coffee.
- Green Building: Using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program to create energy and water-efficient store designs.
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