Self-Regulation: Corporate Social Responsibility, Essay Example

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Essay

Corporate social responsibility is a form of self-regulation or self-compliance that is integrated into the business model.  The form and function of the corporate social responsibility is to become a tool used to address issues and matters of ethical, moral and social behavior by the company to the point where as an ultimate end state there would be not outside governance by local, state or federal regulations to control the actions or non-actions of the company.  Originally the term and ideation of Corporate Social Responsibility was used to fulfill a need outside of the traditional stakeholders such as stock holders, employees, and suppliers to certain companies.  When companies really began to expand globally there was a need for inputs from various interested and concerned parties.  These parties became what is known as stakeholders.  The needs and wants of certain stakeholders were easier to address.  Some of these were reduction in cost, increased efficiency and greater operating profit margin.  All of these are quantifiable and can be measured with metrics and reports.  There was also a need to address other stakeholder’s needs that are outside of direct ownership of the product or service.  The impact of a product or service on the consumers, environment, other employees, the community where the product is made or sold and other members of the public have a vested interest in the impact and results of a company providing a good or service.

The corporate social responsibility mechanism is utilized to aid and promote the core business’s strategic plan as well as align with the mission of the corporation.  Business ethics and internal rules and regulations provide the framework for directors, shareholders and employees to act or react to certain situations that could negatively impact the corporate conscience.  When the CSR is utilized there are key ingredients to ensure it is successful.  First is the buy-in and support from senior leadership throughout the organization.  The leadership buy-in will provide the framework for success and ensure that the CSR’s impact is justifiable and an important part of doing business.  The second portion for success is accountability for the CSR’s function.  Since CSR acts as a self-auditing or self-regulating tool there must be a way for the internal team to provide audit, checks and balances and then a method for reporting issues that may arise.  There are external rules, regulations and external agencies that provide guidance on accountability such as the Fair Labor Association, ISO 14000 and the United Nations Global Compact.

With any tool used in business there should be a benefit to using the tool.  The amount of benefits enjoyed by each business can vary drastically between companies and industries but overall there are four major areas in which hard and soft benefits can be enjoyed.  The first includes Human Resources.  The people matter most in the equation of providing a great product or service.  Without the people we could not create the consumables to create revenue.  By utilizing a CSR to ensure a social, moral and ethical stance, the recruitment and retention of key employees could be heightened.  The social responsibility and nature of a company can take the hard edge off of a hard-nosed company and show a more inviting and socially acceptable environment for employment.  The CSR helps blur the lines between corporate and family in a way that remains professional and enjoyable atmosphere.

Using the tool to create a hospitable and enjoyable work environment is one form of soft cost savings that would be hard to directly quantify the benefits directly to the policy.  Although the benefits are realize it is hard to pin down exactly why a candidate chose a certain company or why an employee stays with the same company for so long.  One way to reduce exposure and see results is in risk mitigation and risk avoidance.  Risk and the ability to adapt or avoid risk all together is highly integrated into business project plans and aligned with the tactical, operation and strategic visions of many corporations globally. (*******) By establishing a CSR the risk of enduring a catastrophic event due to poor individual judgment in an ethical or moral situation can be negated if the tools are provided to the decision maker prior to the hard decisions or in instances where the “more correct” answer is not so obvious.  By implementing the CSR policy the company can ensure with a great idea on what success is by doing the right thing based on an established policy which is repeatable and understandable by the employees.

With all of the time and investment it takes to monitor, adjust, control and implement a CSR there should be more benefits associated to the actions.  If the policy is solid and the foundation is supported by leadership there could be a competitive advantage established through brand differentiation and ultimately brand recognition.  This could create a unique position in the market to target the environmentally conscience market or those focusing on labor laws and regulations globally.  By exposing what is already taking place in terms of accountability and abidance of the CSR new markets could open up or new customers could be identified that were originally ambivalent to the type of product or service the company provided.  Not only is there brand recognition but there may also be greater concerns if ethical, environmental or moral standards are not followed.  The ability to operate may be on the line if certain standards are not upheld or enforced.  By leaning forward in the process of creating a safe work environment, increase diversity or promote environmental causes may relieve some pressure from outside organizations so that the company is not forced into a deadline or cost constraints that may negatively impact the core function of the business.

One company that has implemented an integrated and substantial CSR is Blackberry.  Through corporate awareness and promotion of their products Blackberry is trying to differentiate their product from that of their biggest competitor in the smartphone market.  The social responsibility is integrated into multiple communications that lay out the current situation Blackberry is facing and how they are going to address and differentiate themselves from the competitors.  Blackberry is taking environmental compliance and globalized labor as points of contention and differentiation to set them apart from the competitors.  They are noting that their global environmental impact is smaller than their competitors as well as noting why it is smaller.  This includes smarter and more efficient ways of not only transporting their goods but also the focus on supplier inputs and how their suppliers abide by their own CSR.  There is also a focus on outsourced labor in which Blackberry notes that it abides and promotes all international labor constraints as well as promotes the increase in the Quality of Life of its employees.

The strategic vision of Blackberry is to target the “green” market share for its smartphone.  This will be accomplished through strict and consistent enforcement of the environmental aspects of the CSR both within the corporation as well as down the supply chain.  Certain suppliers would have an advantage if their goals and objectives regarding the environment coincide with that of Blackberry’s.  Based on the integration between Blackberry’s CSR and their implementation of those ideas I would be swayed by the sole fact that Blackberry is upholding their social responsibility and I would use the information known about Blackberry’s CSR implementation to make a purchase decision.  It would create a decision point and would ultimately impact what smartphone carrier I would choose.  Blackberry’s implementation and adherence of the CSR would sway the consumer behavior to lean toward purchasing their product.

 

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