Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that holds businesses socially accountable– to themselves, to stakeholders, and to the public. To engage in CSR, a company is operating or aiming to operate its business in a way that is enhances society and the environment, whilst aiming to mitigate negative impacts.
CSR is a broad concept that can take form in many different ways including, compliance with regulatory standards, or going beyond regulatory requirements; making a positive impact on the environment and/or community; and holding the company to high ethical standards. There are various forms of approaches of CSR such as: corporate philanthropy, risk management, and value creation (with each having increasingly greater strategic and operational impact).
Proponents of CSR argue that corporations will increase their long-term profitable by operating with a CSR perspective, as well as strengthen their bond and image with the communities and stakeholders. Critics of CSR argue that there is a conflict of interest between private profit and public good.
Greenwashing, also known as green PR, is deceptively using green marketing to promote the perception that an organization’s products or policies are environmentally friendly, than os actually spent on environmentally sound practices. This can include changing the name or label on a product to evoke natural components on a product that actually contains very harmful and hazardous chemicals.
Some companies have claimed to promote unsubstantiated social efforts, or have made ethical claims, while others engage in greenwashing. For example, companies that position themselves with healthy habits, while selling fast food which lacks nutritional value. Industries such as tobacco or alcohol make products that damage the environment or the health of consumers themselves. For companies within these industries, it is highly controversial to engage in philanthropic efforts since they seem disingenuous.
Consumers are becoming more aware of their purchases and making healthy conscious purchasing decisions. More often than not, consumers would like to make ethical purchases but do not always follow through with their desire to be ethical. There are numerous factors affecting this such as the price of consumer goods created by ethical companies versus the cheaper alternative goods created by non-CSR abiding companies.
As CSR becomes more widespread, its definition has encompassed more responsibilities–past the bare minimum of adhering to regulatory guidelines to more economical, legal, ethical, and philanthropical responsibilities. Businesses and corporations can benefit substantially by implementing CSR within their human resources or business development sectors.