Chapter 22

Putting the Social into Corporate Social Responsibility

Stuart Bruce

Society and the economy are evolving and in today's über-connected world companies and organizations face greater scrutiny than ever with a need to answer to more and more stakeholders beyond just shareholders. The social web provides both opportunities and threats.

CSR, or corporate social responsibility, is a much abused term. According to that fount of all wisdom, Wikipedia, CSR is “a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model”. However, it is frequently misunderstood and recently has often been used to refer just to sustainability, which is only one aspect of CSR. In Europe – and the explanation of CSR that I favour – CSR usually means focusing on operating the business in a socially responsible way. In the USA, CSR is often used to refer to corporate philanthropy, where companies donate a certain share of their profits to charitable causes, which may include arts, sports and culture. Corporate citizenship is another useful way of thinking about CSR, as it doesn't just limit itself to philanthropy.

Therefore the definition of CSR can vary for different organizations, geographies and industry sectors. Elements can include environment and sustainability, employment practices, social welfare, diversity, charitable giving, human rights and volunteering. Increasingly some aspects of corporate social responsibility are becoming regulated by legislation, such as taxation policies ...

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