Corporate Social Responsibility has become front and center in the last twenty years, sometimes still with a misconception of the term 'corporate social responsibility' in relation to economic viability.
A good CSR strategy will promote long term economic development, balancing the needs of the company and promotion of well being in the workplace, both may lead to increased productivity.
A major actor in the development of the framework and guidelines of corporate social responsibility is the United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO, who list that key CSR activities include: "...environmental management, eco-efficiency, responsible sourcing, stakeholder engagement, labour standards and working conditions, employee and community relations, social equity, gender balance, human rights, good governance, and anti-corruptions measures.".
Main categories of corporate social responsibility are environmental responsibility, human rights responsibility, economic responsibility, and philanthropic responsibility - all which contribute to long term sustainable development planning.
Top sectors implementing corporate social responsibility are healthcare, education, natural resource and long term sustainable development. This includes public and private health care systems, the pharmaceutical industry, universities and educational facilities, mining, agriculture and industries that may affect the environment and populations, in particular rural regions.
CSR values and activities were seen in the 1800's in India and have been compared to the values of Mahatma Ghandi, and his term "trusteeship". India gained its independence on August 15, 1967, and became the first country in the world to legally mandate CSR on April 1, 2014.
In the United States, CSR activities began to emerge during the Industrial Revolution as industries began to grow larger with advancements of human invention and innovation in technology and sciences, as well as a growing population. A popular American figure practicing CSR was John D. Rockefeller and his contributions to society.
CSR and 'corporate social responsibility' became more widely known in the United States between 1970's-1990's through the work of the Committee for Economic Development (CED). The term 'corporate social responsibility' was credited in 1953 to American Howard Bowen in his work “Social Responsibilities of the Businessman”.
Sustainability and climate change have been displayed to these generations in a similar frequency as convenience food was marketed during the 1950's.
As these generations enter executive and leadership positions, a CSR strategy for every organization may be on the horizon for the new sustainability status quo. Already 80% of the top 250 companies practice CSR activities and actively publish their reporting.
The CSR measuring and reporting method used by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization is the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach:
"The TBL approach is used as a framework for measuring and reporting corporate performance against economic, social and environmental performance.", UNIDO.
Photo courtesy of UNIDO.org, the United Nations of Industrial Development Organization
Companies and organizations have the ability to make positive effects and contributions for the environment and societies. As a result of CSR monitoring and reporting, global research becomes available for combatting climate change and other social crises.
Not implementing CSR activities could put an organization at risk for negative speculation from the public and investors, as well as hold the organization back from operating at it's best.
CSR activities can benefits businesses of all sizes and around the world including SMEs, and developing countries in a global effort for long term sustainable development.