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Corporate social responsibility (Essay Sample)


Critically discuss the notion of corporate social responsibility giving particular attention to minimum legal expectations. Sources: 7

Running head: Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility- Minimum Legal Requirement
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Insert Grade Course Insert Tutor’s Name December 5, 2013
Corporate Social Responsibility- Minimum Legal Requirement
Various business organizations, ranging from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to large corporate organizations, exist across the globe providing some service or products to their clients. Essentially, the businesses engage in some activity like production of goods or delivery of service to generate some revenue to enhance its sustainable development. This becomes the traditional economic role of the business organization. However, the operations of these business organizations are carried out in some societal context involving the human population and the environment. Thus, there is interrelation and mutual interaction between the company and the society (Fontaine et al, 2006). Besides, the business operations have to be carried out according to legislative provisions in a given country in which the organization operates. The governments and other regulatory agencies have legislation stretching across various social sectors including health, environmental, the fiscal policies, and the monetary policies among many others. Ethical considerations also need to be considered in executing the business operations by an organization.
Various individuals affect, and are affected by, the operations of a given organizations. These individuals are termed the stakeholders of the organization (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008; Fontaine et al, 2006). The interrelation has generated debates among academic scholars on the roles that business organizations need to play in the society (Veludo-de-Oliveira, 2006). The societies have their interests and so do the business organizations. There have been heated debates in the recent years as to whether the organizations only need to pursue their economic objectives or they have some social role to perform in transforming the societies (Veludo-de-Oliveira, 2006). The issue of corporate social responsibility has emerged and developed in the past few decades. Earlier on, most individuals pointed out that the sole responsibility of various business organizations is to maximize the financial returns for their stakeholders and nothing else (Fiorina, 2003). Corporate social responsibility involves performing roles that go beyond the legal obligations that prevail in a given region (Fontaine et al, 2006). It involves the organizations’ role in promoting social and economic developments in the communities while working with the employees, their families, the customers, the shareholders, the community members, and the larger society. This paper expounds the notion of social responsibility of business organizations.
The rise of corporate social responsibility for business organizations
Even though the notion of corporate social responsibility has come into the brighter limelight in the past three decades, the debates on this issue began as early as the 1950s (Heath & Ni, 2008) when scholars began to question the role of businesses in the society. The evaluation has since extended to non-profit and governmental agencies as well. The main point of concern in CSR is whether the business organizations add any value to the societies in which they operate as they strive to achieve their mission and vision (Heath & Ni, 2008). CSR emerged and developed as a realization by the members of the public that the business organizations should no longer belong to their owners or founders (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008, p.82). The society has developed various new expectations on the business organizations.
The major characterization of corporate social responsibility in a business organization is how the organization involves its stakeholders like the customers, the stockholders, the employees, suppliers, the governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations in its business operations and strategy development (Fontaine et al, 2006). Business operations are governed by the legal provisions established in a given country or region. Governments develop, and advocate for compliances with, various policies on health, environment, human rights, labor, financial accountability, and trade as the organizations execute their operations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2012). Organizations also need to make some ethical or moral considerations while dealing with the employees and other stakeholders. This is evidenced in the development of organizational values and culture. These are coupled by the fact that organizations have economic roles of preserving the interests of the shareholders through profit maximization. The corporate social responsibility goes beyond these roles and brings in the fourth, philanthropic, role of organization. It is a section of the larger responsible business conduct (RBC) mainly concerned with the organization’s compliance with the established legal requirements (OECD, 2012). Organizations strive to meet the legal, ethical, and philanthropic expectations and demand bestowed on them by the public in order to survive (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). They have to execute their operations under the law and produce products that meet the minimum legal requirements (Carroll, 1991, p.40). CSR involves an integration of social and environmental concern in planning the operations of a business organization. It has been described as the ‘commitment [of an organization] to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contribution of corporate resources’ (Kotler & Lee, 2006, p.3). This definition stress the fact that CSR is executed on voluntary basis and it goes beyond the legal obligations as well as the ethical or moral requirements of the work environment in a given business organizations. Besides, the well-being of the community will be ensured if both the human needs and environmental issues are addressed by the organization (Kotler & Lee, 2005).
For quite a long period in the past, various aspects of social development in the society were considered the roles of the government and charity organizations. Development objectives in the community were entities different from the major objectives of business organizations (Fiorina, 2003). Despite the earlier observations that business should be concerned with profit maximization, businesses have come to realize that corporate social responsibility should be part of their business strategy and operations (Fontaine et al, 2006).
How business exhibit corporate social responsibility
In the contemporary business environment, the management of the business organizations constantly receives requests to support various social development initiatives in the society (Kotler and Lee, 2005). The management of the organizations then become under pressure to respond strategically to these calls while pursuing the economic objectives of the organizations. Requests are received that focus on health problems, issues of public safety, community development projects to eradicate poverty, mechanisms to promote education, respecting and protection of the fundamental human rights, as well as environmental protection measures (Kotler & Lee, 2005). Some of these programs fall under the legal requirements. The organizations will be identified by the stakeholders as involving in these roles depending on the contents of their programs.
In management of health problems, the organizations can support programs aimed at the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS (Kotler and Lee, 2005). This could also include support for the affected population like the orphaned children. Other interventions would include immunization programs to prevent occurrence or spread of certain diseases in a given community. The organizations can also involve in the management of chronic illnesses like different types of cancer.
In ensuring the public safety, the business organizations should be forefront in ensuring road safety by incorporating clearly focused driver programs in its operations (Kotler & Lee, 2005). This is also translated into its work environment. In a production company characterized by highly mechanized system, the employees have to be trained on how to operate the machines as well as how they can be terminated in case of an emergency to avoid further damages. The organizations must ensure that all the tools at the work place are in good condition to avoid cases of accidents.
An organization that is out to promote education will be identified by the programs it has towards improving literacy among the employees, and into the community. This can be seen in initiatives like donation of computers and other learning facilities to the learning institutions in the society (Kotler & Lee, 2005). It can also involve provision of free technical training by the organizations to provide these necessarily skills to the members of the society. The corporations can also establish or support programs targeting education of individuals with disability. This can include provision of teaching and learning aids for such and individuals.
To understand if an organization has environmental concern, it is necessary to examine the environmental influences of its operations and the measures that it puts in place in order to reduce negative impacts on the environment. An organization will show environmental concern if it has programs to recycle and reuse materials (Kotler & Lee, 2005). This will also be shown by the waste disposal mechanism that is employed by a given organization. Besides, the organization will show concern to the environment if it does not use, or allow for the use of, harmful chemicals. Automobile manufacturer will show this by producing cars...
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