Various csr definitions

ISO 26000:

the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour that:

  • Contributes to sustainable development, health and the welfare of society;
  • Takes into account the expectations of stakeholders;
  • Does not break the relevant law and is consistent with international norms of behaviour;
  • Is integrated throughout the organization and practiced in its relationships.*

Canadian CSR Guide:

CSR is generally understood to be the way businesses achieve an integration of economic, environmental and social objectives while at the same time addressing the expectations of all those affected and sustaining/enhancing shareholder value.

Compliance with laws is a necessary minimum CSR expectation, but CSR is typically described as voluntary social responsibility commitments.

CSR benefits to a corporation

The Bottom Line

There is a misconception that being responsible and being profitable is a zero sum game. This is however false- Indeed, being responsible can lead to profits which would otherwise not have been realized.

By acting proactively in being a responsible corporate citizen, corporations can appeal to consumers which would otherwise not have considered them.

  • An example of this is The Body Shop which focused on social issues such as cosmetic testing on animals, ecosystem maintenance, and equality among women throughout the company’s supply chain.
  • Her company’s actions led to responsible actions being taken industry wide; her actions became an industry standard as other companies were losing consumers who wished to purchase products from a responsible, rather than irresponsible, corporation.

CSR and the Law

How do they intersect?

  1. Compliance with the law is a bare minimum of corporate social responsibility. Companies who do not comply cannot possibly claim to be responsible in the actions in question.
  2. Corporations can use the law to increase their CSR actions.
    • Contract law: one corporation or non-governmental entity can legally hold another party accountable to a certain standard of responsibility; this is an important way for companies to ensure they are being responsible throughout their supply chain and are encompassing all of which and whom they affect, directly and indirectly.
    • Contract law to statutory law: contract law initiatives can eventually be enacted into statutory law (law imposed by the government) as an industry widely accepts a practice as standard.
      • This can be beneficial to corporations since they helped design the law, rather than have to alter their actions after the fact leading to possibly less restrictive laws being placed in the corporate sphere.
  3. Weakness of public international law: CSR standards have become an important engine for inspiring socially responsible actions worldwide, and holding multinational corporations accountable for their actions in the absence of strong, binding cross-border laws.