Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of international private business self-regulation[1] which aims to contribute to societal goals of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature by engaging in or supporting volunteering or ethically-oriented practices.[2] While once it was possible to describe CSR as an internal organisational policy or a corporate ethic strategy,[3] that time has passed as various national and international laws have been developed and various organisations have used their authority to push it beyond individual or even industry-wide initiatives. While it has been considered a form of corporate self-regulation[4] for some time, over the last decade or so it has moved considerably from voluntary decisions at the level of individual organizations to mandatory schemes at regional, national, and international levels.

Employees of a leasing firm taking time off their regular jobs to build a house for Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that builds homes for needy families using volunteers.

Considered at the organisational level, CSR is generally understood as a strategic initiative that contributes to a brand's reputation.[5] As such, social responsibility initiatives must coherently align with and be integrated into a business model to be successful. With some models, a firm's implementation of CSR goes beyond compliance with regulatory requirements and engages in "actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law".[6]

Furthermore, businesses may engage in CSR for strategic or ethical purposes. From a strategic perspective, CSR can contribute to firm profits, particularly if brands voluntarily self-report both the positive and negative outcomes of their endeavors.[7] In part, these benefits accrue by increasing positive public relations and high ethical standards to reduce business and legal risk by taking responsibility for corporate actions. CSR strategies encourage the company to make a positive impact on the environment and stakeholders including consumers, employees, investors, communities, and others.[8] From an ethical perspective, some businesses will adopt CSR policies and practices because of the ethical beliefs of senior management: for example, the CEO of outdoor-apparel company Patagonia, Inc. argues that harming the environment is ethically objectionable.[9]

Proponents argue that corporations increase long-term profits by operating with a CSR perspective, while critics argue that CSR distracts from businesses' economic role. A 2000 study compared existing econometric studies of the relationship between social and financial performance, concluding that the contradictory results of previous studies reporting positive, negative, and neutral financial impact, were due to flawed empirical analysis and claimed when the study is properly specified, CSR has a neutral impact on financial outcomes.[10] Critics[11][12] questioned the "lofty" and sometimes "unrealistic expectations" in CSR.[13] or that CSR is merely window-dressing, or an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations. In line with this critical perspective, political and sociological institutionalists became interested in CSR in the context of theories of globalization, neoliberalism, and late capitalism. Some institutionalists viewed CSR as a form of capitalist legitimacy and in particular point out that what began as a social movement against uninhibited corporate power was transformed by corporations into a "business model" and a "risk management" device, often with questionable results.[14]

The concept and ambit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has exponentially increased in the recent past particularly during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11.03.2020.[15] The number of people affected due to the virus and its resulting impact on CSR has transformed the outlook of businesses towards society all over the world[15]

CSR is titled to aid an organization's mission as well as serve as a guide to what the company represents for its consumers. Business ethics is the part of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business environment. ISO 26000 is the recognized international standard for CSR. Public sector organizations (the United Nations for example) adhere to the triple bottom line (TBL). It is widely accepted that CSR adheres to similar principles, but with no formal act of legislation.