The paper "Corporate Social Responsibility as a Strategic Issue Rather than a Philanthropist" is a good example of business coursework. I learned that corporate social responsibility means a company taking responsibility for the effects of its operations on the environment as well as on the welfare of society. Its calls for a company to go beyond what is expected of them by the government or the environment conservation groups. Corporate social responsibility also refers to the belief held by many that all businesses have a responsibility to the society which goes beyond the shareholders or investors of that business.
To the shareholders, the company has the responsibility to make profits from the money they have invested in. I also learned that Corporate Social Responsibility tends to focus more on the economic and ethical aspects. Many people also mistake corporate philanthropy for corporate responsibility. However, corporate philanthropist is only an aspect of corporate social responsibility but not the most important one. According to Lantos, there are three levels of corporate social responsibility. The first one is Ethical Corporate social responsibility which entails fulfilling the economic responsibilities and legal responsibilities in an ethical manner.
The second level is known as altruistic CSR which is the fulfillment of a business philanthropic responsibility and it goes beyond the ethical CSR to assist in reducing the society welfare deficiency regardless of whether or not the business will benefit. The last level is the Strategic corporate social responsibility which is about taking care of those community services that are important in accomplishing goals. Michael Porter also gave a similar mapping. however, he views the different levels as a phase of development as opposed to different types of CSR.
Porter argues that the first response to societal issues by a business was philanthropy. This was the starting point but businesses later learned that philanthropy is not enough. According to porter, the next phase which he argued was more than just philanthropists included philanthropy as well as meeting ethical and legal responsibilities, looking to the good of all the citizens and moving towards sustainability. According to porter, the principle of sustainability encourages businesses to conduct their business in a way that ensures that they have long term economic performance by avoiding environmental or social wastefulness.
This principle especially works well for companies whose company economic interest coincides with societal issues. For example in the case of Timberland who rely on hides as their main raw materials were being accused by environmentalist of being indirectly involved in deforestation which then resulted in climate change. They were being accused of encouraging farmers to clear forests so that they could plant grass to feed their herds which would eventually end up as hides for Timberland.
Timberland had to involve itself in Corporate Social Responsibility in the form of working with the environments tackle these issues. This went beyond being a philanthropist but as a strategic option to tackle an issue that would have otherwise brought the company down. The company had to work with its suppliers to ensure that their activities were not hurting the environment. It also communicates with Greenpeace e-mailers respectfully and transparently to assure them that they were part of the collaborative solution to this problem. Therefore with these CSR activities, Timberland was able to find a strategic solution to an environmental problem that would have otherwise cost it.
Godelnik R (2012) Philanthropy, CSR and the Social Responsibility of Business. Retrieved on 8th January 2013 from http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/08/philanthropy-csr-social-responsibility-of-business/
Chan R (2012) Making the Shift: From Corporate Social Responsibility to Corporate Sustainability. Retrieved on 8th January 2013 from http://www.fungglobalinstitute.org/voices-in-asia/making-the-shift-from-corporate-social-responsibility-to-corporate-sustainability-283.html
Porter, ME & Reinhardt, FL 2007, 'A strategic approach to climate', Harvard Business Review, vol. 85, no. 10, pp. 22-26.
Swartz, J 2010, 'Timberland's CEO on standing up to 65,000 angry activists', Harvard Business Review, vol. 88, no. 9, pp. 39-43.