The other day we began discussing social responsibility and the different types of people that an organisation might have to answer to during the course of operation: organisational stakeholders, the environment, and the general public. I hope you really won’t be surprised to hear that while many people support corporate social responsibility, others do not. Let’s take a brief look at why.
Those who argue that social responsibility should exist are usually advocates for the environment or for society. They claim that many of the problems in the world today are caused by large organisations. Some of these problems include pollution and unemployment. Supporters claim that organisations should be held just as accountable as individual members of society, all of which make contributions to the overall welfare of the public. They also argue that most organisations have a profit margin that puts them in a position to make a larger contribution than the average individual.
Those who are against social responsibility make valid points as well. They feel as though the purpose of a business is to help owners earn a profit and that businessowners should have a choice as to how they spend that money. Others are afraid that businesses, many of which seem to have an incredible amount of power over society to being with, will only become more powerful if they are allowed or forced to make visible social contributions. It’s also unfair to ask a company to make a quality decision about which charitable organisations to support knowing that so many exist.
Do your management training courses cover the importance of social responsibility in the workplace? If not, consider whether or not they should. Your management teams and employees should have a clear vision of your social goals and missions. Having one will make it much easier for them to respond to critiques or questions if a client should ever pose one.
Every company, no matter what its size, has a certain level of social responsibility (whether the CEO’s want to admit it or not). Everything you do has an impact on society as a whole, whehter that impact is small or widely recognized. It’s important to understand the different types of corporate social responsibility, of which there are three main categories:
Organisational stakeholders are people, whether individuals or other organisations, who are directly impacted by the actions a company takes. Organisational stakeholders are made up of creditors, suppliers, employees, owners, the government, and a number of others. The actions a company often focus on their main stakeholders and how they would respond. For example, a company that considers their customers amongst their main stakeholders would always strive to treat them as fairly as possible.
The natural environment is another area in which organisations have social responsibility. Responsibility towards the environment pertains to matters concerning pollution, the disposal of waste, and anything else that might impact the world we live in. Many companies now have departments dedicated towards making sure their operations have as little impact on the environment as possible.
There are a few people and organisations who believe that major corporations should be responsible for the general welfare of the community at large. This means hosting events for the public, making financial contributions to charitable organisations, or helping to improve the public education system.
Some of these areas of social responsibility, such as general welfare, are the subject of considerable controversy. In the coming weeks we’ll take a closer look of the arguments for and against social responsibility as well as how companies can approach their goals as they apply to social responsibility.
In the meantime, take a step back and look at your organisation. Are you, as a manager, an organisational stakeholder? What about your employees and customers? Does your organisation take your concerns into consideration? Share your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think!