Corporate social responsibility is a self-regulatory check for businesses to be socially accountable to their local and global community, customers, and stakeholders. It is based on the concept that businesses have a responsibility to do good. There are four main types of CSR activities;
Environmental Responsibility: Research has found that just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Apart from that companies are also responsible for pollution, waste, and natural resource depletion. Therefore by engaging in and committing to environmental responsibility, a business takes ownership over its impact on the environment and works towards its betterment by taking small steps like enacting a company-wide recycling program, donating to and volunteering for local environment-focused organizations, reducing and reusing resources. Or in big ways by using alternative energy sources and sustainable materials.
Ethical responsibility: Businesses often get misguided in the aim of reaching the ultimate goal; net profit. They often exploit resources and people to increase their profit margin. Therefore businesses should ensure that it engages in fair business practices, like sourcing all materials ethically, treating all employees, stakeholders, and customers with respect, providing a higher minimum wage, and ensuring that all employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits.
Economic Responsibility: This type of CSR is the most intertwined with the other three types as any business operating with economic responsibility at its forefront, makes financial decisions that prioritize doing good. Some examples for this type of CSR would include signing contracts only with suppliers that use sustainable materials regardless of the cost, committing to reducing gender and race pay gaps, building a transparent salary system for all employees.
Philanthropic Responsibility: All companies are expected to give back to the communities they function in and take action towards causes that align with their company’s mission. Some ways companies can take initiative is by sponsoring a local non-profit or by donating a certain amount of a business’s annual earnings to a cause. There are a few vastly researched benefits of taking up CSR activities; It promotes brand identity as CSR initiatives boost customer trust and public respect, increase employee satisfaction and retention. And act as a ripple effect of positive good.
In a world where the gap between the rich and the poor is always expanding, social justice comes into play as it aims efforts to redistribute wealth, income, or economic opportunities from privileged groups toward underprivileged ones. It helps promote economic equality. Where CSR is often initiated through external activities like fundraisers, donations, and such, corporate Social Justice inculcates and integrates every aspect of the company’s functions.
In the wake of violence against certain races and gender inequalities, businesses are expected to do more than just indulge in a couple of activities to regulate their actions, companies are now expected to inculcate social justice in their everyday work.
Lily Zheng (Harvard Business Review) mentions that Corporate Social Justice is “a reframing of CSR that centers the focus of any initiative or program on the measurable, lived experiences of groups harmed and disadvantaged by society.”
Therefore, it becomes imperative to note that companies that actively take initiatives for social justice not only address inclusion and equality but shape the future of the world, by making it better.
Some examples of ways major companies are slowly taking up CSJ; more than hundreds of US-based companies have signed a We Are All Human, thereby actively retaining, training, and celebrating Latinx in the workplace.
FinLit Workshop, a start-up is working with companies to teach basic financial literacy as a perk to employees and equip them with the knowledge they need to choose credit cards, pay bills online, find a mortgage and make smart investments. These tools will end up empowering individuals and communities. Sony has recently announced a pledge to provide financial support to organizations dedicated to racial justice and reform as well as work on building and expanding the company’s internal diversity and inclusion programs which promise equal pay. To strive to do better in educating viewers on social matters and inclusion, TV streaming networks like Netflix and Hulu, have pulled down certain programs. Some companies such as Accenture and Shaper Hands are volunteering virtually to support schools or volunteer to help the elderly with groceries.
The best way for a company to get started with a CSR initiative is by identifying the purpose or the cause that aligns with the company’s mission, that it is passionate about and getting the leaders engaged in the purpose, as leaders motivate and inspire employees by setting examples. Spreading awareness amongst employees and setting goals are the next steps, followed by celebrating each milestone and knowledge sharing.
We are a long way from a perfect world but working towards making the world a little better every day, makes it liveable. And companies working towards being accountable and taking action make a lot more difference.
Colich, A. (2021, December 13). Breaking Down the 4 Types of Corporate Social Responsibility | Pacific Oaks College. Voices Digital. https://www.pacificoaks.edu/voices/business/breaking-down-the-4-types-of-corporate-social-responsibility/
Riley, T. (2021, August 25). Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, a study says. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change
Social Justice Definition. (2022, January 20). Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/social-justice.asp
Soken-Huberty, E. (2020, July 12). 10 Reasons Why Social Justice Is Important. Human Rights Careers. https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/10-reasons-why-social-justice-is-important/
Team, G. (2019, June 21). 7 Steps To Engaging Employees in Corporate Social Responsibility. US | Glassdoor for Employers. https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/7-steps-engaging-employees-corporate-social-responsibility/
We’re Entering the Age of Corporate Social Justice. (2021b, August 27). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/06/were-entering-the-age-of-corporate-social-justice
What kind of action on social justice should we expect from companies in the future? (2020, July 17). World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/what-kind-of-action-on-social-justice-should-we-expect-from-companies-in-the-future/
About the Author:
Ms. Himanshi Toprani
HR Intern- Synapse Search Partners MA Industrial and Organisational Psychology. She is a final year Masters in Industrial Psychology at Mithibai College, Mumbai. She is ambitious about Recruitment and Training and holds certifications in Talent Management and individual Motivation and has a passion for learning new languages and musical instruments.