Essays on Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibilities are not Merely Philanthropy Article

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The paper "Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibilities are not Merely Philanthropy" is a great example of a Management Article. In the 1960s, interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became feverish as many activists called for businesses and governments to exercise high standards in their dealings for society’ s welfare. Many companies could claim that they were not in business just for profiting, but also had the intent of serving some social purpose. In this regard, they were seen to trumpet all their efforts to produce healthier foods, conserve energy and other resources used in production to make the world a better place.

However, many researchers have indicated that whenever public interest and private profits are aligned, the notion of corporate social responsibility becomes irrelevant. Such companies are known to do everything within their means to boost profits and hence increase the cost of social welfare. Nonetheless, whenever social welfare and profits are in disagreement, a plead to corporate social responsibility is rendered ineffective as the business executives are highly likely to act in favor of shareholder's interest at the expense of public interest (Porter & Reinhardt, 2007).

In this light, the business commitment to CSR is a sham, under which the search for profits is maximized at the guise of attending to societal needs. By the late 1990s, many companies were redefining their societal and environmental roles. This is after the CSR phenomenon gained considerable attention from both supporters and critics. According to supporters, CSR provides businesses with an opportunity to do well while at the same time doing good. Contrary, the critics are of the view that CSR is just a public relations strategy applied by firms to boost corporate profits by increasing market share.

As the CSR movement grew, many businesses were seen to enhance their environmental, as well as, social performance. Some companies argued that CSR will enhance profitability by reducing the risk of consumer boycotts, negative publicity and shareholders activism (Swartz, 2010). This is after the erosion of public trust by successful businesses due to burgeoning environmental degradation and increased revelations of unethical business practices. With this in mind, dissatisfied citizens mobilized both shareholders and consumer campaigns with the intent of exposing businesses that were violating both environmental and human rights.

Companies such as Nestle were engaging in unethical marketing all over Africa for substitutes of breast milk, the incidence of Union Carbide’ s fatal explosion at its factory and General Motors, which had sold vehicles with military applications to the apartheid regime that, was committing atrocities to South Africans. Other companies engaged in human rights and social damages included Shell and Exxon that triggered a public backlash. Exxon was involved in oil spillage, in the Antarctic Ocean, while Shell was discredited for the planned sinking of the Brent Spar oil platform in 1985.

However, both companies tried desperately to distance themselves from these shocking incidences that had triggered public outrage (Anderson, 2005). Shockingly, many companies watched as the advent of CSR took center stage and businesses that were engaged in human and environmental degradation were punished either in courtrooms or at the stock markets. In this regard, many businesses came to understand that a looming fundamental shift was in the offing. In 2000, many businesses were incorporating the principle of CSR with their profit maximization agenda, but many executives still clung to Friedman’ s doctrine of profit maximization.

In this regard, the allegiance by many companies to integrate both environmental and social concerns with business decisions were highly cast in doubt as many saw the CSR as a corporate strategy to maximize shareholder’ s wealth.


Anderson, D.R. (2005). Corporate Survival: The critical importance of sustainability risk management. Universe Inc, New York.

Cowton, C. (2009). Accounting and the ethics challenge: remembering the professional body. Accounting and Business Research, 39(3), pp. 177-189.

Platt, J. (2003). Developing competence and trust: Maintaining the heart of a profession. Professional Ethics, 11(1), 3-18.

Porter, M.E. & Reinhardt, F.L. (2007). A strategic approach to climate. Harvard Business Review, 85(10), 22-26.

Swartz, J. (2010). Timberland's CEO on standing up to 65,000 angry activists. Harvard Business Review, 88 (9), 39-43.

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