Posted by: hepowers | February 20, 2010

The Business of Corporate Social Responsibility

Image by ChesterF

This term of public relations management studies finds me learning about business management.  Corporate social responsibility topics arise in almost every class and I’m learning some new ideas.  Here are a few points from our class readings that are providing new perspectives.

Businesses need to make a profit! Okay, that sounds like a no-brainer. Without a profit, a business is no longer a business.  Accusing a profitable corporation of being greedy may be missing the point.  The bigger issue is how much profit is reasonable in the face of social and environmental detriment? It’s not how much money you make, but how do you make it, how sustainable is the operation and if you can help out someone in need at the same time, why not do that?

Businesses should not give hand outs Rather than a philanthropic hand out, this idea says a business should approach social or enviromental causes with a business case perspective.  What needs in the world match their operations, products or expertise?  How can they create a sustainable market around a genuine need?  The idea is that a business approach is longer-lasting, can be applied over a wider global region and make use of top research and development resources.  I see the logic in this but wonder what happens to the need if the business case fails to create a continued profit.

Businesses face 3 major contemporary challenges: globalization, workforce diversity and changing workplace arrangements Each of these issues are a challenge to organizational effectiveness but I think they also reflect the potential for corporate social responsibility.  Effectiveness without innovation and adaptability can miss the success boat.  But being in tune with globalization, diversity and adaptive work arrangements shows a recognition of external issues, needs and change and this is more likely to create a commitment to social responsibility.

Recent research indicates people prefer jobs with organizations who are responsible.  So if businesses want committed people as an important internal resource, a commitment to social responsibility would be a good idea.

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