Discuss the challenges related to being a socially responsible business, and suggest ways these challenges can be overcome.
Corporate Social Responsibility especially concerning social welfare and the environment are important engagements for businesses. They improve the livelihoods of people especially in the target markets while empowering those people to support the business by acquiring more purchasing powers. However, some challenges stand in the way of the establishment of socially responsible businesses.
These challenges include lack of uniform support from a business’s executives as well as the junior employees. When only a few people and not the entire business personnel support a given social responsibility issue, the projects suffer divided attention, denial of critical resources such as time, money and labour which hamper the achievement of the project’s goals. The solution to this challenge is for the business executives to involve its entire team in the conceptualization and development of the project. Although only a small team is involved directly, it is imperative that all other departments support the CSR projects. The CSR’s goals can be added to the personal objectives of all the employees and management.
The second challenge is getting the team that is directly involved in the project to own it and implement it without relying overly on senior management. To overcome this challenge CSR projects need to be led by individuals who are passionate, talented or have a positive history with the project. These people can act as team leaders and inspire others to achieve the CSR goals.
The third challenge is the cost of the CSR projects, which are usually high. Businesses are set up to make money and the diversion of the profits to CSR may hamper the business’s growth. In order to ensure sufficient funding of CSR projects without hampering growth, the business can set short-term targets within which the CSR projects are seen as investments into communities after which the business should begin realizing increased profitability due to customer loyalty. Moreover, the business can partner and source for funds from Non Governmental Organizations such as World Vision, Red Cross, USAID among others to share the cost implications of CSR projects while benefiting from skilled labour and therefore achieving better results. For instance, a business involved in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals can offer free drugs for a disease prevalent in a certain area, say malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. When such a business teams up with the Red Cross, they can benefit from additional funding and labour.
There is the challenge of monitoring and quantifying CSR involvements. Many CSR activities affect societies at the micro-level. For instance, the distribution of free mosquito nets to prevent malaria is an intensive project whose factual deliverables are at the micro-level where it is difficult to quantify results. In order to overcome this challenge, the business ought to engage a skilled consultant to help them follow paths that yield tangible impacts. The business should also pursue a realistic plan of action detailing how objectives are to be met, using which resources and in what period.
The other challenge would be handling the suppliers of the CSR projects. Identification of suppliers who match the business’s needs and support the CSR project can be hard. In order to overcome this challenge, the business ought to seek supplies from long-standing suppliers who are ready to align to the business and its CSR objectives.
CSR projects are demanding in terms of money, time, labour and coordination. As such proper planning, teamwork and delegation of duties to responsible and passionate individuals are the solutions to almost all the challenges facing CSR projects.
Discuss how CSR strategies can integrate programs to address both environmental and social impacts
CSR strategies can address environmental issues such as reduction of carbon emissions and simultaneously address social issues such as drug abuse in the target society. While environmental issues and social ones may seem different and demanding on the business, they usually play complementary roles and thereby become easier for businesses to complement. This is so because a productive environment will lead to empowerment of the people both socially and economically thereby aiding to fight several social problems that are the subject of many CSR programs.
The CSR strategies can integrate and execute programs to address environmental and social impacts by first identifying which issues go together. For instance, a CSR program to address poor waste disposal by cleaning up the environment can go hand in hand with a social program to educate people on responsible waste disposal and the importance of adhering to proper waste disposal measures. Notably, cleaning up an environment without educating the people on how to be proactive in maintaining clean environments is counteractive and it can lead to the collapse of the program without achieving any of its objectives. As such, CSR strategies should seek to undertake complementary projects together in order to enjoy synergy of the integrated programs.
Companies pursuing CSR strategies can also seek the partnerships of independent NGOs and agencies that are skilled in specialities on the environment or the social issues. For instance, computer manufacturer Hewett and Packard (HP) can roll out a program to help reduce the impacts of electronic waste (e-waste) on the environment in developing countries by providing low-cost durable electronic products that pose minimal danger as e-waste. However, the problem of e-waste in developing countries stems from poverty, which leads people to import of cheap electronics that serve for a short time and are then discarded. As such, HP can collaborate with NGOs to start micro financing to empower people economically, educate them and increase their purchasing power to afford durable, high-quality electronics that are less hazardous to the environment. As such, companies can take on what it can do best (production of environmental friendly electronics) while it co-works with independent bodies to oversee issues of economic empowerment.
Companies can integrate programs to address both environmental and social impacts by targeting programs that reduce the company’s production costs, aid it to adhere to environmental regulations and benefit societies. For instance, a soft drink processing company that uses plastics as the main packaging materials can start a recycling program. The company can reward people especially those in its target market for gathering up plastics, which it collects and sells to plastic manufacturing companies. This is a highly beneficial program where all entities seek to benefit monetarily while they also adhere to regulations on environmental sustainability.
CSR strategies can integrate programs to address both environmental and social impacts. Some of the ways they can do this include the pursuance of strategies that complement each other on the environmental and the social front. The strategies can also be tailored along having a company take up one aspect say the environmental while it collaborates with another independent entity, which can deliver on the social aspect. Moreover, the strategies can be aimed at monetary benefits for all parties involved as they seek adherence to regulations on environmental conservation. In all, environmental and social issues go together and any strategies to address one should look into ways of addressing the other to enhance sustainability and benefit from synergy.
Discuss that factors that would be involved for a business to choose a framework to guide their CSR programs.
The factors that would be involved for a business to choose a framework to guide its CSR programs ought to be complementary and geared to the mutual benefit of the target group and the company. Gazzola (2014) notes that CSR strategies come from the consideration of the interests of a business such as its customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the general good of the environment. As such, these entities determine the factors considered in the selection of a framework to guide CSR programs.
The factors include availability of funds. The amount of profits that a business makes greatly determines the kind of CSR programs it can undertake. For instance, a start-up paper making company would find it difficult to engage in a massive reforestation program since the project is capital intensive and if the company was to invest in such a program it would take many years to realize any benefits. However, the same company can start by offering free basic training to people who would wish to practice forestry farming. The latter is less demanding in terms of capital and it will market the company to potential suppliers of raw materials.
The regulations that guide a given industry are also critical determinants into the framework that a business selects to guide its CSR programs (BDS Global, 2013). For instance, where environmental pollution levels are high, such as Beijing, China, the law might require a company there to have a carbon reduction theme as part of its CSR strategy. As such, the company must tailor its other CSR objectives to coordinate and work together with the mandatory CSR. In this case, the framework for CSR is centred on an externally guided program rather than an internally generated program.
The industry in which a business operates guides its CSR programs. For instance, a business involved in the refining and exportation of oil such as BP would find it perfect to fight oil spills and thereby maintain unpolluted seas. This is so because the company is directly associated with the issues for which it seeks to uphold. It would be awkward for an oil company to sponsor rubber, plastic and glass-recycling initiatives since it lacks direct connections in that area and there are other companies in those industries best suited to take up the CSRs.
Other factors to guide the framework for CSR include global epidemic and issues of global concern. For instance, the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which claimed thousands of people, prompted businesses to intervene by offering funding, technical support, education among other issues. As such, the emergences of matters that require humanitarian intervention is factor that can prompt businesses to set up CSR in the line regardless of the affiliation with the disasters.
BDS Global (2013) Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
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