The term corporate social responsibility means that a company voluntarily takes on accountability to the public, stakeholders, and itself. Corporate responsibility, alternatively known as corporate citizenship, means the leadership of an organization is mindful of the impact the business has on the environment, the economy, and the community.
Ultimately, a socially responsible business wants to benefit the environment and society rather than have any type of negative impact.
How Does Social Responsibility Look in Action?
This is a broad concept that can appear quite different from one company to the next depending on the location and industry. Philanthropy, the action of donating large sums of money to worthy causes, is often a guiding principle in companies that embrace the spirit of corporate social responsibility.
Another is volunteer service by employees, especially in the immediate community. This is often a win-win situation for the company and the recipient of its good deeds since it draws a lot of attention to its brand name.
While owners of newer companies may have good intentions when it comes to corporate social responsibility, they often have not earned enough yet to give back to society. This is one reason why the public more often sees the names of large corporations that participate in philanthropic and volunteer efforts rather than smaller ones.
Other Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
Besides improving the image of a company with the public and attracting media coverage, a good corporate social responsibility program helps employees feel more engaged with their co-workers and employer. People feel good about working for a company that does good for others.
Employees who have a positive perception of their employer and who feel like their own efforts are helping to improve the lives of others are much more likely to stay onboard. Additionally, a strong corporate social responsibility program can help to attract new employees who desire to make a difference and investors who have deeper concerns than making a profit.
Examples of Companies Currently Making a Positive Social Impact
Companies that have reached the point of earning enough profit to start giving back should look to those who came before them. The retail giant Target, for example, is a great example of corporate social responsibility. Donations from their proceeds have totaled in the billions of dollars, mostly going to environmental and community support since 1946.
Nearly 75 years later, Target gives away five percent of its profits each week to education and other worthwhile causes. That amounts to a whopping $4 million dollars a week and over $200 million dollars every year. Target also pursues sustainable practices to package and sell its products whenever possible.
As one of the most well-known names in the printing industry, Xerox is another company that has participated in corporate social responsibility for decades. It started the Community Involvement Program in 1974, a program that still operates today and that more than 500,000 employees have participated in over the years. The program focuses on causes that employees have expressed concern about and provides money for them to have a direct impact on their community.
Business owners don’t need to have the profit margins and budget of Target or Xerox to make a big difference. They only need the will to move forward with the funds they do have available.