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The Corporate Conscience: What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

The Corporate Conscience: What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporations have historically had a reputation for being money-hungry and ruthless, but corporate social responsibility aims to change that

28th September 2018

Corporate Social Responsibility is an abstract concept which generally promotes the idea that corporations should ‘give back’ and serve the greater good in the society in which they operate. It promotes the idea of substantive development and covers various issues, including human rights, social justice, and environment. The value on which a company places Corporate Social Responsibility and how it is implemented varies depending on the culture and legal framework of each particular company.

When one imagines Corporate Social Responsibility, it is easy to imagine giant enterprises or multinational corporations making hefty donations or conducting large-scale campaigns, but Corporate Social Responsibility can be as simple as implementing basic workplace standards and implementing ideas which allow a business to engage with the community. Corporate Social Responsibility is now a public expectation for every company and business, regardless of their size and what industry sector they operate in. This is why every business owner should be aware of it, understand its meaning, and be willing to implement it.

How does Corporate Social Responsibility Affect my Business?

The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility is a trend that has become common practice. While it is a social concept, it can affect your business indirectly by influencing customer behaviour and their buying patterns.

Your Customers

The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility is a trend that has become common practice. While it is a social concept, it can affect your business indirectly by influencing customer behaviour and their buying patterns.

Your Company

Corporate Social Responsibility can influence your business directly by giving it a positive reputation and boosting morale amongst your employees. Studies have also shown that employees are more productive in instances where they feel a sense of purpose and like they are doing good. In this sense, if your company engages in it, you will likely see an increase in productivity and employee satisfaction.

Although Corporate Social Responsibility is not on its own a legal requirement, some of it has already been incorporated in the law. For example, there are laws regulating workplace conditions such as health and safety measures, (OH&S), minimum wage, and child labour.

How can my Business Benefit from it?

Being Ahead of the Curve

Today’s Corporate Social Responsibility trends may well be tomorrow’s laws, so why not be ahead of your time and adopt them now? For example, many years ago, promoting cultural diversity and gender equality in workplaces was uncommon. Nowadays, the law prohibits workplace discrimination, bullying and harassment. There is a general trend that these practices are being legislated to reflect public opinion.

It will Improve your Business Image

Businesses with Corporate Social Responsibility will usually have a better brand recognition and positive business reputation. It goes without saying that if you have strong brand recognition and a positive reputation, this will be reflected in customer loyalty and sales. Further, it is also an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to obtain more exposure, and attract more customers.

Economic Benefits

Taking up Corporate Social Responsibility does not necessarily increase your business’s expenditure, in fact it may be a cost-saving practice. A recent example of the economic and social benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility can be seen in the KFC straw-free campaign which not only provided significant media exposure for the company in promoting the brand as being environmentally-friendly, but also cut the cost of making the straws. As this shows, it can be win-win for both the company and society at large.

How can my Business be Socially Responsible?

Although there is no uniform standard for Corporate Social Responsibility, there are resources which can provide you with ideas for ways to implement it, such as the Human Rights Commission website. 

There are also business consultants in Australia that provide evaluations and advice on Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy. In relation to the Corporate Social Responsibility concepts which have been legislated, you may want to contact a small business lawyer for advice.

Want more information? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace, and for any of your other legal needs.

Author
Jackie Olling

Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is an admitted solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.