The days when the government was seen as the exclusive social change agent and the absolute macro problem solver are becoming part of the past, as companies are gradually taking a larger role, actively participating in social and community projects under the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR refers to the generally voluntary involvement, or investment, of companies in social projects that help advance the society / the community in which they operate in areas such as healthcare, housing, education, safety, and the environment, among others.
Corporations have come to realize that they cannot operate in isolation to the community, that good governance and social involvement go beyond the work performed in their own offices. Their vision is shifting from one where shareholder’s value and owner’s satisfaction were almost the exclusive corporate goals to another one more sensible that considers and protects not only shareholders, but also all stakeholders; including employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and the community.
One has to recognize that the adoption of a CSR posture does not result only from a generalized and progressive “change in corporate conscience”, but also from the pressure of interest groups and non-profit organizations that defend different social causes (mining companies were mostly targeted for their alleged lack of consideration to the communities they worked in and to the environment), the need to follow accepted business trends and standards, the potential enhancement of the company’s image which can eventually translate into higher sales and lower employee turnover, the need to comply with relevant regulations and to satisfy the public scrutiny, among others.
In any case, for one reason or the other, the consideration of the so-called “triple-bottom line”, that incorporates people, planet and profit, is a reality within the corporate world that cannot be ignored by corporations claiming to have good governance policies and high moral standards.
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