While inclusive employment and workplace diversity are crucial factors in any modern work environment, there’s far more to the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In the paragraphs below, we will explore the four pillars of CSR, including examples of the benefits they deliver to businesses, employees, and the wider community.
1. Ethical obligations
Avoiding human rights violations is the most crucial aspect of your company’s ethical obligations. This means caring about the health and safety not just of your direct employees but also of anyone employed or otherwise affected by businesses in your supply chain.
Of course, ethical responsibility is about more than just avoiding problems. Ideally, modern businesses should proactively seek to improve the lives of those around them. You can do this through social procurement, community engagement, ethical hiring practices, and more.
2. Environmental responsibilities
To enjoy long-term success as a business owner on this planet, you need the planet to thrive too. This means taking steps to minimize any negative impact your business may have on the environment. However, it also means taking proactive steps to create positive effects too.
Some examples of methods you can use to become more environmentally responsible include:
- Reducing the amount of pollution your business is responsible for by cutting or offsetting your energy consumption, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions;
- Eliminating single-use plastics and general waste;
- Increasing your use of renewable energy and sustainable resources;
- Opting for recycled materials in your product packaging.
In case you’re wondering, there are some excellent options for offsetting any negative environmental effects you can’t currently eliminate. These include funding research into these problematic areas, donating to relevant causes, and partnering with relevant organizations.
3. Economic obligations
Every business shares the goal of making money. However, your profits should never come at the cost of the economy as a whole. Being economically responsible means avoiding predatory practices and approaching business in a way that ensures the survival of other companies and individuals operating within the broader economy.
For example, a supermarket chain might avoid forcing contracts on suppliers that forbid them from selling their goods at farmer’s markets. A multinational retailer might scout locations carefully so as to enjoy profits without squeezing out small businesses that are vital to a thriving economy.
4. Philanthropic responsibilities
The fourth and final pillar of CSR takes you beyond the bounds of your business. Corny though it may sound, philanthropy is all about making the world a better place, and this should be part of any company’s mission.
You can get started on your philanthropic responsibilities by donating to causes that align with your overall mission as a business owner. However, don’t be afraid to branch out and donate to causes you care about for different reasons. This could mean funding research into a condition one of your employees has or simply donating to a cause you personally champion.
If your company is well-established and you’re making consistently high profits, you may be ready to look into establishing your own foundation or charitable trust. Of course, this comes with its own set of ethical challenges, as you don’t want your trust or foundation to act as little more than a tax avoidance strategy.
These four forms of corporate social responsibility should form the ethical foundation for any modern business. Modern consumers are interested in more than just the products they buy. The story behind their purchases is just as important to people, and through socially responsible practices, you can deliver the stories people are happy to fund.