What is Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR)?

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation which should be incorporated into the core operations of business.

CSR comes in many forms such as corporate citizenship, social performance and corporate conscience however regardless of the terminology used it is always focused around businesses providing value to society.

CSR aims to bridge the gap and connect the perceived distance that currently exists between business and ethics.

The term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ was popularised in the early 1960s and has continued to evolve over time.

It is still evolving today as it embraces new concepts and theories to further strengthen its purpose and practical implications.

"For CSR to work effectively it needs to be placed at the very core of all business operations."

Definitions of CSR vary from sector to sector and from country to country but ultimately CSR can be defined in simple terms:

"CSR involves corporations taking an active responsibility to meet the varying needs of society."

With changes in communication technology, political movements and governance, businesses can no longer pursue profits and financial gain in isolation.

With employees, customers and investors all expressing a desire to associate themselves with socially responsible organisations CSR has become a primary focus in the modern world.

Some businesses consider CSR to be nothing more than a hindrance which is only adhered to for legal and marketing reasons.

These same businesses would also argue that CSR distracts businesses from their fundamental purpose of making money.

However, these organisations are misguided as the potential benefits of acting in a socially responsible way are numerous and significant.

CSR should not be viewed as an add-on or a separate programme which runs alongside normal business operations.

Although such programmes and activities are still highly beneficial and contribute greatly to society it is not really enough.

For CSR to work effectively it needs to be placed at the very core of all business operations.

It must be incorporated into the leadership and culture of an organisation impacting all associated stakeholders in a positive way.

The ISO 26000 is the recognized international standard for CSR.

Public sector organisations need to adhere to the guidance associated with the Triple Bottom Line which addresses the needs of people, planet and profits.

Private sector organisations are also encourage to adhere to these guidelines however less regulation is enforced.

Engagement from business comes in many forms largely as a result of the legal and regulatory requirements of their industry and their own desire to incorporate CSR into their primary business processes and ethos.

CSR remains to be a fundamental principle for modern business and one which continues to grow and evolve.

New CSR concepts and ideas are generated constantly as business leaders reflect on the successful implementation of CSR principles.

Whether you are a CEO, middle manager, employee, customer, supplier, shareholder or part of the wider community you can play a meaningful part in the CSR movement.