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The basic theory of corporate social responsibility is that organisations are a part of the society and it has responsibilities to the society beyond merely economic and legal obligations, just like every other individuals in the society. The concept of corporate social responsibility is becoming a major factor that organisations around the world concentrate on nowadays because it really affects their performance. The objective of any organisation is profit making, but if you are looking for sustainability in the long run, you simply cannot avoid the concept of corporate social responsibility. CSR helps an organisation to continue trailing its first objective of profit making by maintaining a good and healthy relation with the environment and the society. But this does not mean that the organisation cannot run a profitable business. Corporate social responsibility allows the company to be mutually beneficial along with the customers, employees, suppliers, stakeholders and the local community.
'Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large' (Holme and Watts, 2000). This definition clarifies the reason behind organisations becoming so aware of corporate social responsibilities these days primarily because the focus on only the economic growth of the organisation is not sustainable enough and thus, there is a requirement for more active roles to be played focusing on the balancing the economic growth along with the environmental and social factors that directly affects the organisation.
Corporate social responsibility encourages the organisation to maintain a responsible attitude by going beyond the minimum requirements to sustain a relationship with the customers, employees, suppliers, stakeholders and the local community. Corporate social responsibility help the organisation attain the objective greater than profit making, i.e., sustainability in the competitive market.
Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility
An effective corporate social responsibility helps an organisation to successfully differentiate themselves from their competitors. Even if there are a number of competitors existing in the market, a very focused and committed corporate social responsibility makes the company stand out. 'A commitment to CSR feeds through into customer service, sales and profits. As well as affecting the way you behave, CSR can lead to new products and services that reflect your values and those of your stakeholders. Over time, it can all add up to a powerful brand and a winning business' (Business Link, 2010).
A company should be able to successfully publicise the corporate social activities performed by them. This makes sure that the customers and the local community are aware of the efforts the organisation is making. Publicity like this builds a good reputation of the company which enables them to attract more customers and stakeholders to be a part of their business. A good corporate social responsibility is very essential to build up a long-term value of the organisation because it encourages the customers and the stakeholders to remain involved with the organisation and also attract new customers and stakeholders towards the organisation.
J D Wetherspoon and Corporate Social Responsibility
J D Wetherspoon is an award-winning pub chain based in Watford that provide the very best in customer experience, with superb quality, choice and value in both food and drinks. They operate chains throughout the United Kingdom. The company is thoroughly aware of the fact that they are a part of the community and are actively managing their responsibilities in both corporate and social perspective. The board of directors has identified corporate social responsibility an integral part of the organisation. They company's corporate social responsibility plan covers all the essential elements of responsible retailing, community, people, charity, health and safety, environment and ethical working. The corporate social responsibility group meets every month to progress business initiatives outlined in the CSR plan and the minutes of the meetings are reported to the board and reviewed by them(Annual Report,2009).
One of the biggest challenges a seller of alcoholic drinks has to face is becoming a responsible retailer. As an alcoholic drinks retailer, Wetherspoon totally practices actions that promotes responsible drinking and has developed many policies to assure that it acts in a very responsible way. The company does not practice or tolerate any actions that would encourage non responsible drinking. Lots of precautions are taken to ensure that anyone under the age of 18 can not buy or obtain any alcoholic drinks. This is done by operating a Challenge 21 policy, if a customer looks 21 years of age or younger, the customer would have to present a identification bearing the date of birth to prove that he/she is over the age of 18(Annual Report,2009). Wetherspoon also has a policy of not serving alcohol to anyone who is very intoxicated already because this might result into unwanted situations. The company has also developed a close relationship with the local authorities and the police in order to maintain a peaceful and safe environment in the community in times of need (Annual Report, 2009).
The company is always continually trying to improve the quality of the food they have to offer to their customers. They have their menu designed in such a way that the customers are aware of how healthy is the food they are eating. This is done by providing information of how much percentage of fat is contained in the dish. The website of the company also provides information such as calorie counting and nutritional value of the food they have to offer (Food Facts, 2010). This is a very good strategy to make the customers feel like they are being served healthy food.
Witherspoon is working on providing the best service to their customers and they are aware that this begins from their employees, who are trained to provide the best service in the industry. The company is investing in the best training and development, policies on equality, competitive remuneration packages and the encouraging the employees to participate actively in the long-term business strategy. According to the company's annual report, more than 700 training courses were held in 2008 which was attended by more than 12,000 delegates. The company also claims to have promoted more than 600 bar and kitchen staffs to managerial positions (Annual Report, 2009). Such training courses makes the employees feel motivated because they feel they have got the right skills to do their duties effectively and efficiently. This in turn helps in maximising customer satisfaction which will create a good image of the company's brand which will play a vital part in maximising their business and profits as well. The company is definitely trying to take full advantage of their CSR scheme as a corporate strategy to ensure sustainability in the future. The company also has received many awards from the British Institute of Innkeeping for best training programme (Annual Report, 2009). This has also definitely boosted the reputation of the organisation
Community and Charity
Pubs have always been happening places in the community throughout history. Witherspoon have tried their best to make the customers' experience in their outlet truly amazing. The company also aims to build and support relationships with the local community by generating employment opportunity for the local people. Witherspoon is also one of the largest charity-fundraising company for CLIC (Caring for Children with Cancer) Sargent Charity (Annual Report, 2009). Furthermore, the company also makes donations to local events by doing sponsorships, drawing raffles, buying computers for schools and giving away unwanted furniture for local institutions (Annual Report, 2009). Whenever possible, Wetherspoon tries to use local businesses and suppliers, this also promotes the economy of the community. These activities done by the company has built up its reputation in the local community, which has enabled them to stand out among the competitors and ensure a bit of sustainability in the market.
Energy efficiency and the Environment
Witherspoon's CSR policy also recognises its responsibility towards energy efficiency and the environment. The company has tried their best to minimise their actions that impact the environment in a reasonably practicable way. Efficient use of energy has been practiced such that energy consumption is minimised. The company has installed smart meters that focuses on improving their energy saving strategy. This installation has significantly reduced the energy consumption by 11% (Annual Report, 2009). The use of materials that could be harmful to the environment is also minimised. Appropriate waste management system is adopted to keep the environment clean. The company has reduced the amount of waste they send out to disposal sites by adopting recycling methods.
Health and Safety
The company tries to maintain a very high standard of health and safety throughout the business because it is very critical. This makes both the employees as well as the customers feel safe. The premises are regularly checked for risks, immediate solution is identified and applied if found any.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Strategy
Corporate strategy can be described as finding market opportunities, experimenting and developing competitive advantage over time (Lynch, 2006).Organisations becoming more socially responsible is all about gaining a significant competitive advantage over time in the long run. The definition by Lynch can be used as supporting evidence that corporate social responsibility is in fact a strategy used by organisations in order to be more sustainable by gaining a competitive advantage over competitors within the market.
Corporate social responsibility contributes very much to the corporate strategy because of the following common essential elements that in both of them:
Sustainable decisions that can be maintained over time. For the long term survival of the organisation it is important that the strategy is sustainable.
A vision of where you would like to see the company in the near future. A good vision will enable the organisation to move forward in a significant way beyond the current environment.
Policies are adopted and maintained in order to make the organisation stand out and raise the standard of the services that the company has to offer.
Vision: The ability to move the organisation forward in a significant way beyond the current environment. This is likely to involve innovative strategies.
Strategy is about how to develop organisations or allow them to evolve towards their chosen purpose.
Offer competitive advantage: A Sustainable strategy is more likely if the strategy delivers sustainable competitive advantage over actual or potential competitors. Corporate strategy usually takes place in a competitive environment and so does CSR (Lynch, 2006).
The main objective behind any organisation is profit-making. But in this modern era, people have become more aware and profit making has been like a short term objective, if an organisation wants to survive in the long run, an effective corporate social responsibility policy must be implemented. The company must co-exist with the customers, suppliers, business partners, as a whole, the society. The organisation and the society shall both be mutually beneficial. The business expects to expand and the society expects to get higher standard of service from the business. Therefore, in the modern market, a company must have a corporate social responsibility in order to sustain in the long run.
Holme, R. and Watts, P. (2000):"Corporate social responsibility: making good business sense", Building a CSR Strategy, pg 9.
Lynch, R. (2006): "Corporate Strategy", Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, pg 4.
Business Link (2010): "Corporate Social Responsibility: The Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility". Available from: <http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?r.s=sc&r.l1=1074404796&r.lc=en&r.l3=1075408468&r.l2=1074446322&r.i=1075408572&type=RESOURCES&itemId=1075408600&r.t=RESOURCES>. [07 June 2010].
Food Facts (2010): "About Us: Our Food Your Nutrition". Available from:< http://www.rfbrookes.co.uk/Web/FoodFacts/FoodFacts.nsf/StartPage?OpenForm>. [07 June 2010].