21 Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility
John Spacey, July 03, 2021
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is the requirement that firms have a positive impact on people and planet. This is an expansive type of accountability that includes the end-to-end impact of a firm's products and operations. The following are illustrative examples and counterexamples.
Product SafetyDemonstrating diligent care and control of the health and safety of your products and services.
Precautionary PrincipleThe principle that you not launch a product or service if there is any chance that it isn't healthy, safe or environmentally friendly.
Circular EconomyCircular economy is the practice of directly recycling and reusing everything that goes into your products such that waste is near zero. For example, a fast food chain that directly recycles and reuses all of its packaging.
Waste is FoodThe principle that the only waste created by your operations is healthy food for an organism. For example, a coffee chain that only produces composed coffee as waste with everything else being recycled or reused.
Working ConditionsThe working conditions afforded to employees. This includes important practices such as workplace health and safety.
Partner OversightFirms are accountable for their entire operations including outsource and supply partners. For example, the working conditions at outsource manufacturing facilities.
Triple Bottom LineThe triple bottom line is the principle that profits can't come at the expense of people and planet. This is may be accomplished with metrics that try to track your impact on people and planet that are prioritized above profit.
TransparencyThe principle that you share all information about your operations that is of interest to stakeholders. For example, a corporate farm that provides neighbors with a list of everything that they release into the air and soil over the course of a year.
VisionIt is reasonable to believe that the firms that survive into the future will be the ones that do not produce environmental damage and social misery. As such, a firm that is creating economic bads may need to work towards a new vision of itself to survive.
Competitive AdvantageIf you believe that firms of the future will be required to have a positive impact on people and planet, this becomes a primary type of competitive advantage. For example, a solar panel manufacturer that has safe products free of harmful substances that is destined to dominate their market.
Barriers to EntryOperating a business that creates value while at the same time being fair to all stakeholders and minimizing environmental impact is no easy task that creates new barriers to entry. For this reason, firms that feel they are up to the task may actually push governments for stronger regulations in areas such as pollution and product safety.
Self-RegulationAttempting to preempt government regulations by creating them yourself as an industry or firm.
Business TransformationBusiness transformation is the process of making large changes in areas such as organizational structure, business model and operating model. For example, a firm with an environmentally unfriendly product that plans to completely reinvent its business model.
Risk ManagementManaging risks to your stakeholders including investors, societies, employees, customers and communities. For example, a power company that diligently manages the fire risks related to its infrastructure.
ResilienceResilience is an elegant approach to risk management whereby you design things from the ground up to inherently preempt risk. For example, a vehicle platform that is 5x stronger than it needs to be that reduces a broad array of safety, compliance and reputational risks.
GovernanceGovernance that provides diligent oversight of management. For example, ensuring that management are handling information security risks. Governance bodies are held accountable for major failings of a firm.
PhilanthropyDevoting your capital and talents to doing good.
GreenwashingSome firms view corporate social responsibility as an exercise in brand image such that they use nominal gestures with no real impact. This is known as greenwashing.
Radical ChicRadical chic is the practice of jumping on social issues as a matter of trendspotting and branding without any actual substance or commitment.
PoliticizationA firm can take a pragmatic approach to doing good without becoming a political organization. Politicization of firms can become problematic as it can alienate talent, customers and regulators.
Unintended ConsequencesStrategies or decisions that are well-intended that have negative consequences. For example, replacing one unhealthy ingredient in a food product with another ingredient that ends up creating larger health problems. The avoidance of unintended consequences calls for systems thinking whereby solutions are elegant such as basing products on ingredients with a long standing record of healthy consumption.
Social ResponsibilityThis is the complete list of articles we have written about social responsibility.
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