What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the term for initiatives by corporations which improve society as a whole without focusing on profits. Often these initiatives cost corporations money, and make no direct profit. CSR initiatives can focus on a wide range of issues, from education, to awareness, to activism in different sectors. In all cases these initiatives aim to aid wider society.

What do corporations usually do?

The normal business model for a corporation is to make profit for stakeholders in the company. This is the ultimate point of a company, which does not consider whether or not the company is making a profit in a positive way. Many corporations destroy the environment and continue to use exploitative labour despite these practices being bad for the world. Why do they do this? Because it’s the most profitable way of working.

So do corporations want to destroy the planet?

No, it’s more that they don’t care. Corporations business model has not got a mechanism included in it which forces them to focus on the sustainability of their actions. Because all that they care about is making a profit, it means that they’re unable to spend time focusing on how this profit might be injuring the society around them. Competition rules over collaboration here.

Completing exercises from SOLS Edu

Corporations don’t care at all?

Until recently this could be said to be true. Nowadays there is a growing movement towards CSR as corporations, and regular people, begin to recognize the impact that corporate interests are having on the planet. As it becomes increasingly obvious how much of a role corporations have in the ongoing destruction of our environment and in the perpetuation of inequalities, many are waking up to the need for CSR.

Children hanging out after class

So CSR is done without thinking about profit?

Kind of, but CSR also looks really good, and as consumers increasingly care about where it is that their products are coming from, CSR can make a fantastic marketing campaign. Many corporations use CSR in their advertising to encourage consumers to view them as responsible, and feel more comfortable buying from them.

Social Enterprise SOLS Energy

What are the best kind of CSR initiatives?

Those that focus on shrinking our reliance on fossil fuels are really popular, as are those which focus on shrinking financial inequalities. An example would be SOLS.ai, an education programme which allows impoverished youths a second chance by educating them into a growing solar power industry. This allows impoverished youth a chance at financial success, while improving the environment.

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