Corporate social responsibility is a practice that businesses can implement to try and improve local factors such as communities, the environment or the economy. Larger businesses can use corporate social responsibility (CSR) to improve factors further afield and even worldwide.
Why is corporate social responsibility important?
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their obligations outside of making a profit and many aim to be socially accountable. Employees and customers are far more aware of the world and its problems and choose far more carefully where they work or spend their money.
For modern businesses to thrive they need to see the bigger picture and by taking account of the environment and the general public they can contribute in a positive way while improving the image of the company. For a long time now the public have been getting restless with watching huge corporations refusing to pay tax, producing environmentally unfriendly goods or even marketing unethical items. Sweatshops, refusing to pay farmers a fair price and polluting the rivers, land and air are no longer tolerated as people become far more aware of the environmental impact on the planet.
A socially conscious image is important
Not everyone is in a position to buy the most ethical items. It may be that some people have to purchase items they know have not been made the way they would like but budget dictates they have to. However companies know that when possible people will often choose an item because the company supports a particular cause. Simple ideas such as offering to plant a tree for every x amount of chocolate bars sold or a label stating that this company supports the World Wildlife Foundation may be all it takes to make someone choose one item over another.
While you could see this as cynical, companies are realising they need to have a strong socially conscious image to attract stakeholders, key workers and customers. Just look at some of the companies that practise CSR on a large scale and the names may surprise you.
Companies practising corporate social responsibility
Toy company Lego put millions into reducing waste and helping to address climate change. They now use sustainable materials, reduced packaging and invest in alternative energy.
Starbucks has changed their hiring process to make their workforce more diverse. They target youngsters looking to start a career, refugees and older workers.
Google and Johnson & Johnson have both invested in alternative and renewable energy sources. Johnson & Johnson has invested in providing communities with clean drinking water. Google concentrates on the environment although the CEO of Google has been known to also fight against social issues such as discrimination.
Pfizer is another company that has invested heavily in CSR and has provided many healthcare initiatives including health care services for women and children in need and spreading awareness about non-infectious diseases.
What are the types of responsibility can businesses take?
As you have seen above these large corporations have taken responsibility in a few different areas such as the environment, energy sources, healthcare, drinking water and diversifying workforces. There are broadly speaking four main areas that corporations can take responsibility for. These are as follows.
One of the main focuses of CSR is the environment. This subject is never out of the news and now more than ever companies need to to do what they can to help as they are often responsible for huge carbon footprints. Taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint will help society, the environment and attract customers.
Donations of money, products or services to non-profit organisations or social causes can help immensely. Small businesses have been known to make free use of their services as well as large companies. Any sized business can make a difference if the donation is thought out and targets an area that a specific organisation or cause needs help with.
Ethical labour and fair trade
Nobody wants to knowingly buy goods made in sweatshops by underpaid and underaged workers. Companies need to show they treat their employees fairly not only in the country they are based but also all of their suppliers in other countries where the labour laws may not be so protective. Providing education programs for children and making sure employee’s rights are protected are important.
Many businesses have been practicing this for a long time. Look at professional sports teams like the English Premier League and you can see that the footballers volunteer their time at local schools and hospitals. Businesses can volunteer their time and their employees in the local community to support causes and raise awareness.
How would corporate social responsibility look in the gambling industry?
The gambling industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year throughout the world. Even though not all countries allow gambling and in many such as India there are only a few areas with casinos such as Goa it is a growing business. Like all big businesses casinos and the gambling industry have moral and social obligations.
Where casinos, bookmakers and slots like fire joker differ is that they don’t give the customer a tangible product or service for their money. Players hand over their money in a bookmaker with the sole intention of making more money. Casinos and slots could be defined as forms of entertainment. So how are casinos and other gambling establishments taking social responsibility?
The gambling industry has one area that is unique when it comes to CSR and that is to provide responsible gaming. Some of these practices are regulatory (depending on the country or region) and others are voluntary. Different areas that the industry is addressing are:
- The protection of vulnerable gamblers, gamblers can choose to ban themselves from casinos and bookmakers. In online gaming they can set limits on deposits and playing time.
- Prevention of underage gambling by use of ID and online providing ID along with proof of address.
- Information privacy and data protection.
- Ethical and responsible marketing.
- Training for staff for responsible gaming.
- Limiting bets in bookmakers.
The gambling industry also has a staff diversity policy and donates hundreds of millions a year to charitable causes. Still though the online gambling industry causes concern to some with the ease of access and availability of smartphones. There are often incentives such as a casino bonus to sign up and other loyalty offers although major casino sites are run ethically there are risks that unregulated casinos will not act socially responsible.
CSR is the way forward and will only continue to be adopted by more companies as the public shies away from unethical or morally ambiguous businesses that only want to turn a profit.