Aside from the more technical definitions you can find, CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility is in its most basic form a policy or set of policies implemented by a company that reflects an organization’s desire to work for a cause greater than simple profits. This can manifest itself in different ways, but the best CSR policies (Strategic CSR) work to benefit employees of the company, those with whom it interacts in the marketplace (suppliers, vendors, and consumers), and local communities.
What does a company with good CSR practices look like?
A company with good Corporate Social Responsibility is easy to spot. It is a company that takes steps to work not only with top stakeholders within the company but with all stakeholders involved, from employees to consumers to local communities. These companies have policies to ensure worker safety and comfort – living wages, pension programs, training, upward mobility, equality and standard implementation of rules, regulations, rewards and punishments to all workers. Most importantly, these companies will have a standardized reporting mechanism for workers to report violations, to deal with them and to ensure transparency within the process.
Why should we care?
Good CSR doesn’t just affect those workers involved, it affects all of society surrounding the organization. This means that many strategic CSR policies work to boost the local communities in which they operate – including job opportunities and campaigns to engage and serve the community. This reaches farther out to consumers as well. Programs assuring quality of service and products, transparency, consumer satisfaction and ethical practice in marketing and competition are common in companies with good CSR policies.
We live in a capitalist world. More than any values we are able to espouse, the place where we make the most impact is our money, and where we put it. Businesses are reliant on us, the consumers, to keep them afloat, and in that reliance we find our power. By choosing to withhold money from companies whose practices are not congruent with your values, you make a statement about what practices are most important to you, and by investing in companies who demonstrate a commitment to CSR you are ensuring that the money you spend does some work for greater society rather than simply lining the pockets of the top officials.