9 December 2013

Corporate social responsibilty for the better

While the motives of multinational businesses that engage in so-called corporate social responsibility may well be open to questions from the sceptical, their efforts can, nevertheless, lead to positive effects in terms of ethical, health and environmental concerns that arise from their commercial endeavours. That is the conclusion of Henry Hillman of the Bristol Law School, England, writing in the journal IJLSE.

He has carried out a case study of a well-known company in the context of its products and services. He has also looked at its approach to ethical considerations in the face of globalization and the increased connectedness of consumer and commerce through the likes of twitter, Facebook and other online sharing methods. Consumers can learn about the behaviour of a company and judge it in an instant and share their opinions – positive or negative – with many people, sometimes millions, almost in an instant. This is a phenomenon with which the modern company must familiarise itself. Indeed, consumers, the media and non-governmental organisations can exert pressure on companies via entirely novel routes that were not accessible in the days of a handwritten letter or phone call that might eventually reach an anonymous secretary at company headquarters. “Increasingly connected populations can facilitate wide reaching reactions to the behaviour of multi-national corporations via the internet,” Hillman points out.

He discusses the basic economic responsibilities of a multinational, a point of increasing concern internationally as multibillion-dollar companies duck and dive the tax regimes of the countries in which they purportedly operate. He refers to the responsibility of a company to its employees, their health and wellbeing and to the wider environment. These first areas might be deemed core to ethical behaviour. In addition there is a much wider remit in which a company might have a vested interest in direct involvement with society. Of course, countless companies have their charitable wing, their minimum employee benefits, their emissions limits on pollution and such. But, how many are truly responsible to society and the environment at the global level beyond their legal obligations and the focus of marketing and public relations?

Hillman concedes that it is difficult to define corporate social responsibility, although many researchers have tried in the past and many observers might suggest that it is obvious – lower pollution, reduce the company carbon footprint, ensure employees are happy and healthy, please your customers with high-quality inexpensive products of value and pay your taxes. But, companies must balance their books, keep their shareholders happy and all the while staying on the right side of pertinent regulations and the law. Many make proclamations regarding their ethical stance as well as putting positive ethical initiatives in place.

Many companies set environmental targets, others have targets thrust upon them. Some offer up assistance in times of trouble or for specific medical initiatives. The effects can be positive regardless of whether we view them with cynicism. Today, they must also attempt to please all of the tweeters, all of the time. But, if they are doing something positive for health, the environment, employee conditions and paying their fiscal dues, then that should have benefits globally whether we are sceptical of the motives or not.

Research Blogging IconHillman H. (2013). Showing they care, but about what? Does corporate social responsibility show companies have a nice side or that they are merely adapting to suit their environment?, International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, 6 (1/2/3) 156. DOI: 10.1504/IJLSE.2013.057757

Corporate social responsibilty for the better is a post from: David Bradley's Science Spot

via Science Spot http://sciencespot.co.uk/5041.html

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