Is social responsibility a must?
Social responsibility is an ethical theory according to which organizations should actively help better their community and the wellbeing of workers. This typically means working against social issues and preventing committing harmful acts to the environment. All kinds of sustainability issues are a hot topic in the world today and consumers want to support responsible businesses. Because of this many companies engage in social responsibility, not only for its benefits on their community but also for brand image and profitability.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a term you’ll run into often concerning this topic. CSR is a form of business self-regulation that helps companies measure and control their impact on society. This includes a company’s impact on the economy, the environment and the greater community their in, both negative and positive. Some examples are: actively reducing carbon footprint, engaging in charity work and improving labour policies
This can all seem like a lot of work with little reward but that doesn’t have to be the case. No company has to be perfect and of course, we can’t expect the same contribution from a small or just starting business versus a big company. However, even small acts have an impact and committing to CSR, in the long run, has been seen to benefit companies too.
Consumers are becoming more and more aware of social and sustainability issues and are often willing to pay more for a product from socially responsible companies. Focusing on social responsibility can help build a strong brand which contributes to customer retention, meaning that a customer chooses a specific company consistently over others. A lot of talented workers are also looking for a career that aligns with their ethics. An environment where workers are happy and proud of what they are doing increases creativity and general input in the workplace.
Of course, we all know that it is completely possible to make great profit without being concerned about any of this. Some argue against CSR and say that a company is always first responsible to its shareholders and that even with its benefits any money spent on it means less for them. This really becomes the biggest question: who is a company first responsible to? The shareholders would be the obvious answer. But what about the community the company operates in? Could or should some form of CSR be enforced? These are important issues for a lot of people, but for everyone to benefit, a mutual understanding of the issue is needed.
“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
-Henry David Thoreau