Corporate social responsibility involves going way beyond looking only at making lot of money for businesses but also to include wider societal issues that impact all of us and commitment to build a better society to live in. This can be done either through actual business practice or supporting charity organisation or contributing a bit for various causes.
In the UK, the business in the community (BITC) organisation has long been actively involved to improve standards in responsible business practices since its inception in 1982.It’s all the member companies are committed to best practice in order to make a more positive impact on community members and society as a whole. Businesses are inclined to carry out cause- related marketing (A commercial activity by which businesses and charities form a partnership with each other to build an positive image and market their products and services for mutual benefits).
Companies derive benefits from a more strategic, long-term association with a charity or cause which involves activity at a number of levels within organisation. A company may undertake such an association either to improve relations with the wider community (in which case it would be classified as CRM) and to improve relations with its staff (in which case it would be classified as CCI)
CSR may be divided into two main divisions and both the company and the community (Whether local, national or international) may derive benefit from initiatives under both of these main divisions i.e. corporate community investment and ethical business practice.
Corporate community investment & Corporate Social Initiatives
Corporate community investment activities cover a broad range of activity. Followings are the activities that are undertaken for community investments
- Gift in Kind- donating redundant items to good causes, or unsold foods or temporarily letting others make use of unneeded space or manpower
- Volunteer programs- Supporting employee participation in voluntary work, whether occasionally or regularly or perhaps on vacations
- Work experience- programs run with schools or other local organisations
- Education programs- to provide training for the young and others
- Promotion of local events
- Donation of funds
All above activities help develop and combine links with the community and crate goodwill for the community,
Ethical business practice
Ethical business practice is also called socially responsible business practice which at its essence, means running the core activities of a business compliance with ethical behavior. Following are the areas where companies carry out their ethical practices:
- Employment practice-This covers all aspects of employees welfare that includes training, equal opportunities.
- Environmental practice- This covers broad area that includes packaging, disposal of waste products, use of recyclable material, products design and training
- Animal welfare
- Investment and purchasing
Many CSR campaigns in the UK have been very successful such as “Tesco Computer for schools” and Sainsbury’s “Comic relief” have rested primarily or targeted family shoppers.
Marks & Spencer is also committed to CSR programs, despite the tough economic climate and slowdown in sales. After 60 percent drop in its share prices during 2007-08, its CEO at that time Stuart Rose made it clear that they will invest into their plan “A” that was to invest for combating climate change, waste reduction, sustainable raw material, health and fair trade. According to Rose who expected to monetize green to gold and gain competitive advantages over its rivals who discount. As a result of CSR initiatives M&S named as one of the world’s most ethical companies by Ethisphere magazine in 2007. This initiative has been widely lauded and will likely be the new standard by which every other CSR program is judged.
For 35 years, FedEx has been committed to a continual improvement process in environment management. FedEx measures environment performances through auditing with employee accountability and reporting to senior management. Also harness their logistics expertise to provide emergency and disaster relief, both to reach communities around the world quickly and efficiently in times of need and to support the rebuilding process.
In the UK among the retail sector, the food retail companies are the major players. Their developments and innovations have significant influence on the society and they are expected to address societal concerns appropriately.
According to annual CSR report (2011) the achievements of Tesco are:
- Carbon labeling 100 own products
- Built environment friendly stores with lesser carbon footprints
- Reduced emissions
- Created a sustainable technology fund
- Aimed to become the green grocer of the UK
- Aimed to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2020.
Time has come when lot of super rich people have realized that with lot of money comes a lot of responsibility. Therefore, using money to change the world by helping people in need is something like killing two birds with one stone.