Nowadays business leaders, government officials, and academics are focusing more and more attention on the concept of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR). Interestingly CSR differs from country to country in the way it is viewed and therefore acted upon, for instance the US works on a ‘duties of care and loyalty’ basis whereas Europe and Japan place greater emphasis on stakeholder participation. Why? Perhaps because as sustainability, CSR still remains a concept that has yet to be defined in one particular manner. Thus, even though it is part of our everyday life each ethical individual addresses it differently and place’s emphasis in different areas and scales.
Even though consumer behavior is crucial to sustain our future, needless to say businesses play a tremendous role in sustaining “our common good”. Academics in the past suggested that most firms view socially responsible actions in the same way that they view more traditional business activities, meaning they engaged in a more limited—but more profitable—set of socially beneficial activities that contribute to their financial goals. Indeed, the engagement in CSR by and large began with investors with large private holdings taking an interest in their companies’ activities and influencing the companies’ actions. But things have now changed, as mature societies strive for economic growth which addresses the triple bottom line. In turn, businesses now see their economic development through a more holistic perspective, through a social & environmental lens. As a result the engagement in CSR nowadays besides rapidly growing in most MNEs, it has also taken a massive step in SMEs which are constantly proving that strategic CSR can succeed if it is addressed in an organized, well planned and holistic manner. The significance of having a good CSR strategy is what makes CSR achievable, but without being consulted, firms risk making inappropriate decisions which could lead to unsustainable CSR, which means in economic terms “being pushed out of business”.
This in turn suggests that whether or not firms are able to engage in CSR depends on managers’ understanding, their incentives and constraints, which are determined by their personal ethical beliefs, business partnerships and goals. This principally means that the business case of CSR must be fully understood but most importantly appreciated. With the right tools and guidance firms can avoid the hidden tricky obstacles throughout the Sustainability journey. CSR and sustainability consultation is invaluable for a firm’s entire spectrum of operations in order to achieve a sustainable growth.
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