More and more corporations realize that behaving socially responsible is one of the primary obligation organizations have to fulfill in the modern day business environment. The advancement of contemporary society and their implications on life on earth are under debate since decades, and it is advised by the academic scholars and business research and development sector that behaving socially responsible is essential for all entities to make safe the planet for living (Hopkins, 2012). Acting socially accountable does not only implies the environmental concerns to be taken into account but also the healthy relationships with employees and consumers.
Corporate social responsibility is under debate in multidisciplinary concerns for its definition and implications. Academia, society and business research suggests that firms need to act more in alignment with the social and environmental demands (Jenkins,2006). Corporate conscience, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship are the terms used for one thing for businesses serving in the wellbeing of society. Right after the emergence of contemporary society, the concept of social responsibility started with considerations among academia and business but world war II and depression phase it faded from the serious issues for the time being. In contrast it became on front after when an article was published in Harvard Business Review containing the speech of board chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, that he delivered in 1951, saying that it was obligatory for business to operate firm’ s affairs in a workable and an equitable manner of balance to cater the claims of various stakeholders and interest groups, and a balance based on harmony among consumers, employees, shareholders and general public in a larger sense. (Frederick, 2006).
According to Howard Bowen (1953), social responsibility is, business’s’ obligation to make such decision, follow such policies or to devise such course of action that is desirable in achieving the objectives and values of the society in which it is operating in (Garriga & Melé, 2004).
Caroll in 1979 presented a theoretical model for corporate social responsibility; the model considers corporate social responsibility as the leading philosophy for organizations to develop vision and mission in such a manner that it functions in socially responsible behavior (Carroll & Shabana, 2010).
United nations in 2012 organized a summit name Rio+20 on global sustainable development where more than fifty thousand public and business leaders and another representative to develop a renewed program to promote the sustainable development and policies to achieve such goal (Zimmermann, 2012). Corporate conscience on the part of businesses incorporates different action plans and policies. For instance, operating business ethically is a part of behaving socially responsible as avoiding any illegality and conducts that may be harming society, the health of people or the environment. The old-fashioned conventional ways of operating business are no more enough to bring success to the firms in today’s era of conscious and fully aware consumers and other concerns. State governments, non- profit organizations, health care associations and the general public now expect corporate businesses to serve the society with not only innovative products but with a more socially responsible code of conduct.
Socially responsible corporations are taking steps to work in collaborations with the communities they are operating in, investing in the projects with more responsible and ethical features, developing relationships with customers and employees and adopting policies that are environmentally protective and sustainable. Critiques of the industries evaluate corporations more on socially responsible operating methods; organizations tend to achieve long-term strategic goals by being socially responsible and ethical businesses. Besides the hidden hand of marketplace giving economic reasons to corporations for adapting socially responsible policies of operations, the regulatory system of the societies that is official authorities and political processes play a most important role in making the industries behave socially responsible (Nobel, 1998). Nonprofit organizations are playing a major role in projecting the social responsibility to corporations. Human rights organizations, labor unions and other non-governmental organizations working for the environmental safety a, wildlife preservation and other eco-friendly projects and policies are a helping hand to the social services and motivating corporations to pursue in favor of society that would ultimately bring them long-term profits and benefits.
Factories and plants are increasingly criticized and blamed for being responsible for causing the global warming environmental phenomenon by exerting mechanical wastes and smoke. Similarly, the human rights movements advocating the labor protection, safety, and other rights have made businesses realize the importance of operating more responsibly. Firms and corporations are increasingly incorporating the social concerns in their visions and values so that their image is confident in the market and consumers prefer buying products of the companies that are socially responsible and seem to care for human life and environment on Earth (“What is corporate social responsibility?” n.d.). International corporations such as leading fast moving consumer goods producers especially operating all over the world and trading globally are envisioning their sustainable growth only in behaving socially responsible towards the society and world environment. The corporations are endeavoring on success path with ever-evolving vision and mission. Recently the corporations have devised policies that aim at behaving more socially responsible and helping the hands in protecting life on Earth. New corporate goals of corporations are coming with revised strategies and goals, many of which incorporate social objectives (Smith, 2011).
Goodwill asset has become a buzzword in businesses around the world and companies are striving hard in innovative techniques and tools that can bring them with a competitive edge of goodwill. The ultimate source of fetching goodwill counts to the company is socially responsible behaviors towards society and human resource. Consumers are the eventual payers of services and products and their advertisements, promotion campaigns, the more the consumers’ feedback is positive, the more the goodwill of the company. Social conscience and citizenship imply that today’s consumers are more aware of the pros and cons of the products and are educated on the processing of manufacture and quality of products and services. Hence they derive the companies policies towards a direction more favorable to the environment, life on earth, the health of human resource and such others. This deriving force is working enormously in the back end of the socially responsible behavior of corporations.
Corporate Objectives of Being Socially Responsible
Three corporate goals announced by corporations while defining Corporate Sustainability Reports all increasingly are social responsibility goals (Goodpaster & Matthews, 1982). These are three goals which the companies tend to work toward through coming five years. The goal listed in the report are as under;
Zero Waste to Landfill
In May 2015, Nestle USA announced objectives that thirty percent of its plants in the USA is geared to achieve the target of zero percent waste landfill that means the factories will contribute to keeping the environment healthy and clean for life on Earth. Such a milestone reflects the corporations concern towards being socially responsible and committed to the environmental health of the society. The goal is supposed to be achieved by the end of 2020 by encouraging the management and employees to adopt the ways to decrease, re-use or recover the energy when the factories dispose of the waste of manufacturing process.
To Reduce Food Waste
Corporations aim at improving their operative resources efficiency so that it can contribute to the reduction of food waste. It is recorded that around the world approximately one-third of food is wasted during the supply chain process before reaching the end users. Such a food loss is not only a regretful thing in a situation where millions of people in underdeveloped countries are fighting hunger and starve and landfill caused by food loss.
To reach the stated goals of reducing the food loss and controlling the mechanical wastage, Companies are announcing to use a more responsible method of packaging the products. Companies state that they tend to strive for an improved contribution to the environmental health by adopting enhanced approach towards packaging the products and design the products in such a way that they can reach the consumers with more quality, less waste and innovate the product life cycle. Saving the Earth’s environment and favorable climate conditions is becoming a responsibility of corporations as they are the ones contributing most to the pollution of soil and air in the shape of mechanical wastages and flame and smoke arising from their manufacturing plants.
Stakeholders of the companies, such as employees, upstream and downstream suppliers, government concerns, non-profit organizations and most importantly their consumers, all are catered by the socially responsible devised social objectives of the corporations. Such objectives, in fact, are strategically winning tools for corporations. Corporation and firm that keep an eye on their Human resource and employment procedures and policies in regard with their effects on the employees, their welfare and health demonstrate the high level of rationality and concern with their employees’ welfare. Corporations rejecting those policies which tend to have a harmful or discriminative impact on the employees pose to give much consideration to the impact of their operations and policies on human resource. The role of the state is very crucial in setting the rules of the system that may or may not project the socially responsible functioning of firms and corporation in the society.
Goodpaster, K. E., & John B. Matthews, J. (1982, January 1). Can a Corporation Have a Conscience? Retrieved from https://hbr.org/1982/01/can-a-corporation-have-a-conscience
Nobel, P. (1998). Social responsibility of corporations. Cornell L. Rev., 84, 1255.
Smith, R. E. (2011). Defining corporate social responsibility: A systems approach for socially responsible capitalism.
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Hopkins, M. (2012). Corporate social responsibility and international development: Is business the solution?. Earthscan.
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Carrigan, M., & Attalla, A. (2001). The myth of the ethical consumer–do ethics matter in purchase behaviour?. Journal of consumer marketing, 18(7), 560-578.
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Otto-Zimmermann, K. (2012). From Rio to Rio+ 20: the changing role of local governments in the context of current global governance. Local Environment, 17(5), 511-516.