Corporate Social Responsibility
When a company grows, corporate action within that organization has an increasing affect on the economy, society and the environment. Simultaneously, however, top management has less and less direct control over such organizational activity. Those at the top know inherently less and less about what goes on within their company, and therefore it becomes an increasing challenge to monitor corporate activity. For this reason Tweezerman took the initial step of systematically assessing its corporate activity on economic, social and environmental levels.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a term with no universally established definition. Conceptualization of CSR varies by company size, type and culture as well as social and economic context. However, here, we’ll define it as the voluntary integration of social, environmental and stakeholder concerns in the enterprises’ daily business operations -- or, as the European Commission defined it in 2011: "the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society."
Corporate responsibility spreads beyond the scope of sustainability. The economy drives industrial society giving business institutions supreme power to legitimate any cause – power that may be used as a tool for social change,
CSR has been successfully implemented in European government policy, but U.S. government officials have yet to clarify their expectations of businesses in the Global Economy. In order to supplement the lack of initiative on the part of the American government, business leaders in the U.S. have led the CSR initiative in the past and must continue to do so in the future. (Aaronson and Reeves, 2002)
A company’s efforts towards Corporate Social Responsibility can bring forth improved financial performance, reduced operating costs, enhanced brand image reputation, increased sales and customer loyalty, increased productivity and quality, increased ability to attract and retain employees, reduced regulatory oversight, access to capital, and finally lower human resource costs. (BSR, 2002)
Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is a process rather than a label. Companies that claim compliance with CSR standards recognize their constant commitment to improving corporate activity. Companies are not expected to meet all standards when first committing to the initiative. Rather, the standards represent an ideal, which companies must strive to reach over time. There are no universal standards for implementing CSR in any given company.
Many organizations have launched the CSR mission by integrating CSR standards into company policy and practice. While each set of standards may vary in form or even content, all set some form of environmental, social and economic provisions. Of particular note are the standards developed by
- the UN and its Global Contract;
- the Social Venture Network, and its Standards for Corporate Social Responsibility;
- the Global Reporting Initiative convened by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres);
- and Business for Social Responsibility in its White Pages
Companies that practice CSR can do so in one or more of three basic categories:
- Business relationships
- Employment practices