Skip to Content
An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

page leaf

Corporate Social Responsibility

What Is the Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business model that helps a company remain socially accountable to itself, its community, and its stakeholders. 

This business model strives to leave a positive impact on the world, whether for the sake of society, the economy, or the environment. To practice corporate social responsibility, companies may reorganize their operations.

What Is the Purpose of Corporate Social Responsibility?

The purpose of corporate social responsibility is to hold companies accountable for their actions that affect both the world and society as a whole. A company may actively seek positive change or change business practices to reduce any repercussions the organizations previously experienced.

In the past, a corporation’s only social responsibility was to increase profits and help the economy. Companies with this mindset never accounted for the larger impact they may have had. CSR programs help these companies become aware of their effect on society. From there, they can make a plan to ensure their impact is beneficial. 

CSR programs also improve your company’s reputation in the public eye. If the community thinks highly of your company and the good you bring, they are more inclined to frequent your business. And as corporate social responsibility becomes more prevalent and customers heighten their expectations, accountability will help your organization survive.

Stakeholders and potential employees will also look to see how your organization is upholding CSR principles when choosing to invest or apply. 

What Are Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility Programs?

CSR programs can produce both small and large social impacts—their only requirement is to incite positive change in the community. Some examples of CSR include:

  • Rewarding employees for volunteering in the community

  • Committing to ensure diversity in the workplace

  • Providing specialized job training for underrepresented groups

  • Direct-giving to non-profit organizations

  • Emphasizing the use of renewable energy sources

  • Improving labor policies and fair wages

  • Investing in socially and environmentally conscious causes

Many notable companies are making strides to implement CSR policies. For example, the LEGO Group is working to phase out single-use plastics in their boxes by 2025. They are also working to launch activities that promote learning through play to over eight million children each year.

Who Is Responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility?

The organization that wants to make a positive change in the community must prioritize its corporate social responsibility. This involves setting their CSR policies and receiving support from upper management, particularly the CEO, to properly implement their programs.

Other entities, such as governments and the general public, also hold some responsibility toward corporate social responsibility.

Government Responsibility

Governments and other regulating officials will put certain laws in place to keep organizations from practicing unethical tactics. For example, truth in advertising laws allow the Federal Trade Commission to sanction companies who try to scam or defraud their customers with misleading information.

Environmental and public health concerns are also regulated by government bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency has laws that ensure businesses keep their water and air pollution levels to a minimum. They will also sanction companies that expose patrons to substances like waste, lead, and mold.

Public Responsibility

The general populace may not place sanctions for unethical practices, but they can raise awareness and inspire social change within organizations. Throughout history, various groups have protested when they felt an organization no longer upheld ethical business practices.

Sometimes, these public-led awareness campaigns inspire change within a company. In 2020, Nordstrom announced it would ban products made of exotic skins and real fur from their stores by the end of 2021. This came after listening to the feedback they received from customers.

We use cookies to improve your browsing experience. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.