More and more companies are placing a big emphasis on CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility and it’s an important topic in the CIMA syllabus.
What is CSR?
CSR is a companies responsibility to the society in which it operates. It involves considering all of the stakeholders (we could use Mendelows Matrix here to value the importance of each stakeholder) in the decision making process and ensuring the local community or society doesn’t suffer from the operations of the company.
When studying for the Operational Case Study exam I came across a brilliant example of how companies are focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility.
The Dutch Flower Group cropped up (excuse the pun) when doing some industry research on the floriculture trade and I was immediately drawn to their CSR on their website.
It’s a very prominent menu on their website and once you read their thoughts on corporate social responsibility you can see why they value it so highly.
Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the pillars of our business, and we constantly take steps to optimise it in everything we do. For example, we invest in our employees (e.g. professional development), the supply chain (sharing knowledge with growers), our clients (category management), the world (initiatives such as Floriculture Sustainability Initiative and Fairtrade) and sustainability (sustainable logistics via for instance sea-container transport).
[taken from the Dutch Flower Group website]
Society Welfare and Sustainability
If a company helps society through their business as a main goal then it will lead to long term success. Especially companies like the Dutch Flower Group whose suppliers come from developing countries.
The benefits of an effective CSR policy will positively impact the society where the business is based as well as boosting the brand and, ultimately, the profitability of the company.
There are, of course, various ways of being a corporate social responsible business. And it’s not just about giving money to charity each month – it’s much more than that.
Ben & Jerry’s pledge of donating 7.5% of pre-tax profits to charity is a admirable scheme and no doubt makes a contribution to charities where it’s needed. But this shouldn’t be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility.
CSR is about HOW companies make a profit and ensure they operate in a sustainable manner that benefits society around them – it shouldn’t be the “repair centre of capitalism” so to speak.
While there are plenty of CSR success stories out there, there also remains a set of critics who say it’s like teenage sex – “everyone says they are doing when in fact no one really is”
Critics also point to the fact that the operations of a business should be about maximising returns to the shareholders and to introduce a successful CSR policy is very costly and will impact the bottom line.
Nevertheless, the benefits of CSR are clear for all to see and it’s important to understand them when faced with a question on scenario in the CIMA case studies.