Corporate Social Responsibility: Overview and Case Studies
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an integral part of business especially for larger corporations. Their programs address issues of poverty, unfair labour practices and the environment alongside government programs and civil society activities. This article will showcase some well-known companies and their CSR programs with the aim to give smaller businesses a source of inspiration for what they can do.
Cynics may say corporations only get involved in the community to polish their image in the eyes of the consumer. The actual goal of their CSR projects, then, is to grow profits – a rather unfit foundation for community development. A pragmatic response could be that the bottom line, not intention, matters most and that corporations ought to continue to self-assess their own business practices, while also seeking to improve the communities they are a part of. Whether or not this is result of a Samaritan board of directors or consumer pressure is less crucial.
Areas in which companies are mostly involved in include poverty reduction, arts and culture, education, and the environment. Often, their programs focus on issues that their business activities are closely related to. The large medical company Pfizer, for instance, funds and hosts medicine safety education programs. Hasbro, on the other hand, has made product safety one of its priorities – likely as a response to the scare about lead-containing toys a few years back.
While engagement in the community is considered a given for large multinational corporations these days, smaller businesses can also have a particularly weighty impact. Capitalising on the expertise they have gained in the course of being in a trade for years or even decades can provide most assistance to their immediate neighbours and beyond. A plumbing shop can team up with a volunteer-run hospital nearby to provide free or discounted services once a month. A software developing agency can spend a bit of its time to enable a not-for-profit organisation online publicity. Possibilities are plentiful.
Following is a cursory list of companies and their CSR programs. Hopefully they can be an inspiration.
- Pfizer (download CSR report, 2010)
- Pfizer (website)
- Baker and Hughes
- McDonalds (links to pdf)
- Hong Kong International Airport
- Indian Oil