Operating a company in a socially responsible manner refers to running a company or business such that it behaves ethically and contributes to economic development. A company has the responsibility of improving the quality of life of the employees, community and society. The company should be sensitive towards social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. This helps the organization to have a positive impact on development in the society. On a global level, companies must be accountable for their impact on the environment.
Social responsibility matters for companies due to various reasons. First, consumers regard companies with corporate social responsibility highly. More than 88% of consumers think companies should achieve their goals while improving society and the environment (Purcell). Employees are more motivated and perform better when the company is socially responsible. Corporate social responsibility practices influence employee morale, loyalty and productivity positively thus its importance. Social responsibility for a company gives it a distinctive identity which differentiates it from others. This translates to a competitive advantage over its competitors. Corporate social responsibility is also a requirement for investors currently as companies focused only on profit are no longer viable. Corporate social responsibility is also a moral obligation. A company has a moral obligation to the community and the environment in which it is situated. Companies that ignore corporate social responsibility can have a negative impact globally. Giving back to the community and society strengthens other sectors of business. Social responsibility is used to engage the consumer with its products and create awareness on the environment. It also helps the growth of the company in the long term. It ensures sustainability of the company in the future. A significant advantage of these practices is that it is cost saving. Whether it is by using less energy or less packaging.
Examples of companies that practice corporate social responsibility are Starbucks, Toms (shoes) and Whole foods. Starbucks believes it should have a positive impact on the communities it serves. “One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” . Starbucks has an annual global month of service. In April 2012, they completed 230,000 hours and 2,100 projects . In the same year, they opened a community store in Houston, Texas which helped the city overwhelmingly. There also exists a Youth Leadership Grants program which has been widely received by more than 50,000 young people every year. It creates original and positive solutions and empowers the youth at the same time. The farmer support centers were established to aid farmers in managing their businesses and enhance the quality and productivity of their crops. The centers also offer social services to the farmers.
The whole Foods focus is on organic and natural foods. It supports food suppliers and gives its customers access to products. This progresses the sustainability of the agriculture industry. It prevents problems such as pollution and land degradation from extensive monoculture. Whole Foods is part of the Marine Stewardship Council which promotes sustainable fishing practices . In 2006 Whole Foods, became the only Fortune 500 Company to offset 100% of energy costs using wind power credits . Whole Foods later eliminated the use of plastic bags and switched to paper bags made out of recycled paper. It is known for its large colorful grocery bags made out of recycled bottles. They were instrumental in the 2004 antitoxin lawsuit against salmon producers, which requires, them to warn consumers on PCB contamination in salmon .
TOMS Shoes are commonly the first thing that one thinks of when talking about corporate social responsibility. This is due to its social mission of matching every pair of shoes bought with a pair for a child in need. The company was formed with this as its goal in 2006 (Brown). The inspiration came from a trip to Argentina by the Founder Blake Mycoskie. He encountered children walking without shoes and endeavored to revolutionize corporate sustainability. The shoes are made out of natural hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester. The boxes are 80% recycled consumer waste printed with soy ink (Brown). TOMS shoes redefines 21st Century social corporate responsibility emphasizing on sustainability in the business model.
Brown, Sarah. "Corporate Social Responsibility Model: TOMS Shoes:." Tuesday April 2013. blog.gomomentum.com. Wednesday September 2013.
Purcell, Mary. "5 Reasons Why Social Responsibility Matters in Business - The Borgen Project:." Friday February 2013. borgenproject.org. Wednesday September 2013.
Starbucks.com. "Responsibility | Starbucks Coffee Company:." Wednesday September 2013. www.starbucks.com. Wednesday September 2013.
The Motley Fool. "Corporate Responsibility Spotlight: Whole Foods Market:." Friday September 2012. www.fool.com. Wednesday September 2013.