|The Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility and What it Means for Employers, Employees, and General Consumers|
All companies face a choice: Putting humanity first or profits? For companies hoping to be viable in the 21st century, the answer seems obvious. Gone are the days of callous corporations driven solely by money. Today's corporations must behave as social entities with responsibilities not merely to shareholders but to employees, vendors, consumers, and the communities in which they operate.
But corporate social responsibility (CSR) can't just be a shallow tool for generating fleeting public-relations points; it must be an integral part of the company's everyday operation. Without a real commitment to CSR, a company may find itself at a competitive disadvantage in business, today and in the future.
A business case for corporate social responsibility
If you believe in the power of market forces to create positive change, you don't have to give up your beliefs in order to support corporate social responsibility. Capitalism remains the most dynamic economic system in world history. However, it serves more as a blunt instrument than an all-purpose salve. Socially-minded companies recognize this reality and use their wealth to help in ways that raw market forces cannot.
Subscribing to the idea of CSR does not guarantee profits but it can offer a company a much needed competitive edge in today’s otherwise crowded business environment. By expanding the stakeholder circle beyond simply the shareholders, a company can draw greater support and resources as a direct result. CSR can:
What CSR means for employees
Corporate social responsibility goes hand in hand with employee happiness. When a company treats its employees ethically and gives back to the community, job satisfaction rises. As a result, employees feel that their work is more meaningful, giving them a stronger sense of purpose and a greater willingness to perform at their best.
CSR also has real meaning on a practical level. For example, providing health insurance programs and strong retirement packages enhance employees' quality of life, and ethical downsizing policies help former employees smoothly transition to their next stage of their lives. No longer can companies treat employees as mere dispensable machinery.
What CSR means for consumers
The modern-day free flow of information has brought greater transparency to the marketplace. With growing consumer awareness, CSR has evolved into an almost necessary business practice for many companies worldwide. This in turn can help consumers enjoy better product quality, selection, and pricing. Consumers who consider corporate social responsibility when making buying decisions, now hold the power to influence business behavior beyond traditional market forces. This trend is likely to continue, potentially making CSR a market standard.