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The Relevance of Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 2460 words Published: 18th Nov 2020

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The Relevance of corporate social responsibility:

The corporate Social Responsibility is relevant, is something which every corporation has to do. The CSR is about taking responsibility toward the community. The business should not focus only on the profit without responsibility, nowadays we realise taking responsibility might ally with profit more businesses find out that by taking their responsibility about the welfare of the communities they can be successful socially environmentally and economically. The CSR has long existed before the 21st century, however, may be the concept and definition were different. Predominantly, the sense and the core never changed, is all about responsibility for the community. There is no right or wrong when is about CSR in any company because is not legislated some companies are doing it voluntarily others implemented it in their policies to make it more effective. I looked at two different companies both are operating within retail industry, but they have two different approach about the CSR. Debenhams “We believe the best way to live up to these responsibilities is to embed them into our everyday working practices. We do not therefore have a corporate responsibility or sustainability department.” Source from Debenhams .Although the company still attached to the values of CSR there is no department dealing with it. In contrast to the co-operative group there the CSR is more implemented in the business culture.” The Co-op recognises the need to manage and develop its businesses in a sustainable manner, business development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Source from The Co-op Way 2018

Definition of corporate Social Responsibility:

The CSR definition varied from generation to generation. Although is means concern about the community in every organisation and the surrounding of the organisation, sometime the responsibility of the organisation toward the community not only locally but worldwide. There are different concepts and definition about the CSR, but we know the point is the community welfare, the concept of CSR is not new. We still can look back over centuries to see the traces of it. Thus, the real concern for the businesses regarding the communities emerged in writing only in the 20th century according to (Archie B. Carroll) University of Georgia. (Corporate Social Responsibility Evolution of a Definitional Construct) In different perceptions. We cannot include all the researches which have been conducted about the concept and perceptions of CSR, in accordance with the modern society where we are living now, we still can look at the near past and present perceptions about CSR.

“the social responsibility of business encompasses the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary expectations that society has or organisations at a given point in time.” Archie Carroll (1979) This definition still very active, economic! Yes, is the foundation without it the business cannot carry its legal duty or any good will gesture toward the community.

Legal: if there are any legislations which can be seen as a legal frame to encourage the businesses to be active in CSR, the proper implementation of it will be a big problem.

Ethical: is doing the right things to do is the core of success it may seem as obstacle to the profit but in long term is the key for profit.

Matten and Moon (2008) cited (the CSR consists of clear communicated and articulated policies and practices of the corporations that reflect business responsibility for some of the wider societal good). Consistently here the perception goes beyond the voluntary aspect “communicated and articulated “something thought and in accordance by the need and put in place as a guidance “policy” which reflect the business responsibility toward the community. These are parts of the many terms and perceptions related to the CSR, but the list goes further the CSR has been around over a century, but the written part started to submerge in the 21st century. In contrast there are key issues relating to the development of corporate social responsibility; environmental, social and economic.


The first steps of taking responsibility is taking care of the planet because at the moment there are not planets where we can move and live freely like the planet earth with oxygen, water and food growth. The environmental factor is the factor which influence the development of corporate social responsibility. Deforestation, climate change, the burning of amazon forest in Brazil, land clearing in Indonesia and some part of Africa. Either we are battling the lack of water like the Sahel regions in Africa and Australia or we are battling the flood like Indonesia, Philippine and Bangladesh.

The goal of environmental CSR is to reduce any damages to our planet from our business processing its activities, while the business is fighting for survival in the tense global market there are factors relating to the environment: Carbon emission, water use, energy use, waste management and recycling.

“At least 125,000 hectares (310,000 acres) of the Brazilian Amazon — the equivalent to 172,000 football fields — were cleared through 2019 and then burned in August.” According to the research done by mongabay

Image of burning amazon forest in Brazil by Karla Mendes on 11 September 2019

 20% of the oxygen, we are breathing is produce by amazon forest this is worrying.

In addition, the rise of the sea level which will take much of places then causes flood. this climate change is worrying this is a fundamental key which influences the development of CSR.  Furthermore, the drought reduces the agricultural land. The climate change has largely contributed to the displacement of the population around the world either by the excess of water or by the lack of water, whatever the outcome it has been always disaster for our planet therefore, sustainable and clean energy imposes for the survival. the use of sustainable energy which are less harmful to the planet would be a solution for the environment. Rules and regulations for a better thinking and shift of focus to cutting the carbon emission will be achievable only with energy renewable. The environmental factor is one of the key factors which influenced the development of corporate social responsibility.  There are good businesses who are doing their best about the sustainability we can take example the Co-operative group” Greenhouse Gas emissions. We are aiming to reduce both our direct and indirect emissions, in line with the reductions needed to keep global warming to below 2°C. This is a threshold for some of the most dangerous impacts of climate change. 20% reduction in our direct greenhouse gas emissions since 2017” This is a good example to follow, is not only internal policy but also external from the small farmers to the stores whole the supply chains have to abide with the policy. According to the Co-op policies about the ethics and environment CO-OP WAY 2018.If the companies around the world try their bit about protecting the environment this, can make a significant difference for our future. However, the environmental factor is not the only one we should focus our attention while taking care about the planet we should not forget after all the main goal is to protect the people who live within it socially.

The social factor:

The social factor is a pedestal factor that influenced the CSR. The social factor has influenced  grandly to the development of the concept .Acting socially is the main fundamental goal for it ,helping the communities inside and outside the corporation for a better living has become an obligation for every business(we can say) who cares about its surrounding. Some businesses are focus   only internally the others are focusing widely. The social factor in the CSR is not an easy thing to control because of its complexity especially when a business is involved in the international level either to sell or buy goods both of them are very complex to deal with, in the fashion industry we have seen how little some of the big businesses know about the working conditions of the employees at the bottom of the supply chains and how others stood up and refuse to buy any products which come from the countries with little respect of the human rights laws or non-existent of good working conditions(Bangladesh Myanmar).Whilst we focusing on the retail industry like the remarkable supermarkets in our streets Tesco, asda co-operative etc… we might think about the fair trade ,how all these products on the  top of selves end up here being looked.

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If the small size businesses in the supply chains really getting benefit of their product? Is there any additional benefit coming from the last destination of the product (corporate)The employees are getting anything else apart from their salaries or the local community is receiving help and support from the corporations? All these concerns are not all respected by all the companies, but there are some good companies who are willing to go extra miles to make sure the community is benefitting from the hard work as well. I have to go back again into the co-operative corporate social responsibility to highlight the job they are doing locally and internationally, by helping its employees and the people around. In 2018 the co-operative group invested £ 19 million in the UK to support the local communities around the country in various projects “UK Community Investment remained a strong area of focus in 2018, with £19m of funding paid to more than 4,000 local causes through the Co-op Local Community Fund”. Internationally co-op has invested in 2018 £2.8 million around the globe the help the people in desperate situations “International investment rose in 2018, with funds continuing to be raised through sales of Co-op branded water to support water projects in Africa, and fight water poverty across the world”. Source https://www.co-operative.coop/. The CSR Works only if all the three factors are included together; environment, social and economic we have to consider each one of them to achieve the total corporate social responsibility.

The economic factor:

The basic fundamental pillar of all is the economic factor, if the business is not profitable it cannot attain its goal on corporate social responsibility whatever the desire to do so, money has to be there to do it. Economic responsibilities hold the foundation upon which all other repose. If we look at co-operative report 2018 the Group revenue was £10.2bn. Group profit before tax (continuing £93 (up 27% on 2017). If the business did not have any profit or it was bankrupt, there would not be a CSR policy. We can say that the CSR cannot happen when there is no profit.

The Key features of a corporate responsibility audit:

Although the CSR is not defined by any law for the companies to have it but when is there voluntarily or incorporated to the policy of the company is must be audited for transparency because the shareholders still need to know how every penny has  been spent for a particular period.” We will seek to be transparent and accountable in our pursuit of sustainable development: reporting on progress (or the lack of it), securing independent verification and setting clear priorities and targets for all material activities” source from https://www.co-operative.coop/ethics/sustainable-development-policy. The reasons behind the audit might vary but the main one is about transparency, simply, because some companies are doing it objectively while the others just as windows dressing by giving a phantom audit.

The impact upon Business operations and performance when CSR is incorporated

The business can profit in many ways when the CSR is incorporated into the business strategic planning, when a business has policy of sustainability like renewable energy this can benefit the company financially in the long term by using solar energy for the warehouses this measure can decrease the electricity bill and reduce the damage to the environment. The significant impact will be outside the country example fair trade policy which helps millions of farmers in the third world counties to have their human rights considered by the supply chains and more respect. The perfect example is how the co-op group dealing with the fair trade and how this is impacting positively to the vulnerable group at the bottom of the supply chains” We are committed to ensuring that the people and communities providing the products and services we buy, and sell are treated fairly, and that their fundamental human rights are protected and respected” source from co-operative group report 2018,( The Co-op Way 2018).

The corporate social responsibility is relevant in the 21st century because is about caring and taking the accurate responsibility for our people and our planet. In this 21st century era we cannot continue living in a disastrous way by not thinking about the future generation, by not looking after the workers who are driving forward the businesses, as long as the business is making profit the social responsibility is ethical.



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