1. Executive Summary
Today’s intensely competitive business environment necessitates the adoption of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices, because business houses are expected to protect and sustain the environment and communities in which they operate. Founded in 1953, the Burger King grew fast as an international food chain. The company strives to be a responsible corporate citizen while promoting its business goals and objectives successfully. Food, people, environment, and corporate governance constitute the four essential elements of the Burger King’s CSR approach. The company operates the Burger King McLamore Foundation to best serve the needs of its different stakeholder groups including employees, suppliers, franchisees, and restaurant guests. The Burger King’s CSR policies have the potential to respond greatly to the various industry issues identified such as health issues, variations in the success point of view, brand reputation, poor performance measures, and conduct and policy. In addition, the firm’s CSR approaches seem to be effective while evaluating their effectiveness in promoting the objectives of the organization.
Today the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), commonly abbreviated as CSR, has become a driving force determining the market competitiveness and ultimately the success of an organization. As a result, currently firms focus particularly on their CSR activities so as to enhance their corporate reputation and to increase shareholder values. In response to this emerging trend, modern investors always consider the CSR operations of a firm while scrutinizing an investment proposal. This paper will critically analyze the CSR activities of Burger King and identify the effectiveness of the firm’s CSR initiatives in the light of industry issues identified and the specific objectives that the organization seeks to pursue.
3. CSR activities of the Burger King
3.1 Burger King and its CSR activities
Burger King is a US based multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants operating in the food industry. The company was founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King and currently it is headquartered at Florida in United States. Over the second half of the 20th century, the company’s ownership changed several times. Recently, Burger King was merged with a Canadian-based doughnut chain called Tim Hortons and currently operates under the parent company Restaurant Brands International. As of 2013, Burger King had over 13,000 outlets spread across 79 countries worldwide and 99 percent of these outlets were privately owned and operated (World News, 2016). The firm operates its 66 percent of the outlets in the United States. Historically, Burger King has relied extensively on franchising approaches to expand its business spectrum (Jargon, 2014). The company has a diverse set of product offerings capable of meeting varying tastes of customers in the food industry.
3.2 Intent or objectives of the CSR activities
The primary CSR objective of the company is to operate as a responsible corporate citizen in the current marketplace while promoting business goals and objectives successfully. The company strongly believes that its CSR initiatives can assist the management to increase employee morale, to promote employee retention, to strengthen brand loyalty, to manage risks, and to build goodwill in the long term (BK Corporate Responsibility, n.d.). The firm gives particular priority to energy conservation and waste reduction to enhance environmental sustainability (Hardcastle, 2014)). The Burger King’s CSR policy is stakeholder-driven and it focuses on four key areas such as food, people, environment, and corporate governance. The firm’s commitment to food constitutes its brand promise, which in turn helps its guests customize their meals thoughtfully to fit their lifestyles. The company maintains the Burger King McLamore Foundation to serve the needs of its employees, suppliers, franchisees, and restaurant guests (Burger King, n.d., p.7). In addition, the company supports numerous regional and national level initiatives worldwide. The company strives to enhance its employee experience by creating a worksite culture that is ‘bold, accountable, meritocratic, empowered, and fun’ (BK Corporate Responsibility, n.d.). Burger King is committed to researching and developing ways to minimize the environmental impacts of its activities without compromising its operational standards. Finally, the company has an extensive corporate governance program to promote its core ethical principles and to address other HR challenges the business faces on a day-to-day basis.
4. Evaluation of CSR Framework
There are different CSR frameworks to plan for an organization’s CSR activities and to improve the firm’s status as a responsible corporate citizen. The leading CSR frameworks include Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, Global Reporting Initiative, and Carbon Disclosure Project (Daizy & Das, 2014). Despite a number of differences, all these CSR frameworks assist organizations to identify and minimize the environmental impacts of their operations. While analyzing these different CSR frameworks closely, it seems that the Global Reporting Initiative can best fit the Burger King’s conduct. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an internationally recognized CSR reporting framework that helps governmental as well as non-governmental organizations to understand and improve the impacts of their operations on current sensitive issues like climate change and human rights (Fonseca, n.d.). The most fascinating feature of the GRI framework is that it promotes broad involvement of stakeholders for disclosing the sustainability performance of the organization. Using the GRI framework, the Burger King can fairly and easily disclose the environmental impacts of its operations as well as the supply chain. The specific standardized reporting guidelines on environmental sustainability are set out in the GRI Indicator Protocol Set of the GRI framework (Jasch, 2008, p.31). In short, the GRI framework addresses all necessary elements of corporate responsibility and therefore this framework can assist a multinational corporation like Burger King to facilitate its sustainability reporting and to enhance CSR initiatives.
The major performance indicators of the GRI framework are energy, biodiversity, and emissions. It is interesting to note that this framework has 30 environmental indicators to communicate the CSR activities of the company in relation to environment to the stakeholders ( Johnsen, Howard & Miemczyk, 2014, p.368). While analyzing the CSR policies of the Burger King, it is evident that environment is one of the four essential values promoted by the organization. Hence, the GRI framework’s extensive focus on environment seems to fit the needs of the organization in the broad context of growing environmental awareness among the public. In the current world, governments and other agencies greatly support organizations that express their commitment to promoting environmental sustainability in the long term. At the same time, firms that violate environmental policies and norms would face lawsuits and other legal proceedings, and the scenario in turn would affect their corporate reputation and eventually profitability. In this context, the GRI framework can really benefit the Burger King to publicize its environmental initiatives effectively and to gain stakeholder (particularly investors) appreciation. In addition to considering environmental measures like CO2 emissions, this CSR framework also takes factors like payment condition and financial transparency into account. Hence, it can really benefit the organization to ensure that its stakeholders are well informed of the financial, organizational, and environmental conditions of the company. It is important to note that the GRI framework encompasses standards according to international labor practices so as to assess the social impacts created by the reporting business concern (May, et al, 2007, p.283). This feature is beneficial for the organization to enhance its commitment to ‘people’, which is one of the four essential corporate values of the Burger King.
5. Critical Assessment of the CSR Activities
While analyzing the success of the Burger King’s CSR activities critically in the light of the industry issues identified and the objectives followed by the organization, it is assumed that the firm has succeeded in meeting its CSR goals and objectives. The major industry issues identified from the presentation include health issues, variations in the success point of view, brand reputation, poor performance measures, and conduct and policy. Undisputedly, health issues constitute sensitive issue in the food industry considering its potential to cause serious health impacts including fatality. There is increasingly growing number of cases reported on food poisoning issues these days as a result of greedy firms’ attempts to increase profitability at the cost of customer safety. In this context, the Burger King performs outstandingly considering the fact that the organization takes vehement efforts to keep its promises on food quality and safety. It is vital to note that the company has been delivering ‘high quality, great tasting, and affordable food’ to its customers worldwide over the last 60 years (BK Corporate Responsibility, n.d.). As noted already, the Burger King management strongly believes that quality is at the center of the firm’s brand promise. The firm’s customers are empowered to make well informed meal choices because the company provides them with extensive information on nutrition. The company believes that there is still room for improvement with regard to enhancing its menu options and satisfying guests. It helps the company to improve its products and services constantly and enhance the client experience. In order to meet the guests’ fast changing lifestyle needs, the Burger King maintains product innovation teams that are taking constant efforts to develop new options providing a variety of great tasting. Hence, the firm’s CSR policies are potential to minimize health issues in the food industry.
It is identified that the company has a set of great performance measures including environment, energy, employees, and investor satisfaction to gather stakeholder views about its business operations. There is no doubt that these performance measures can assist the top management to understand how the stakeholders perceive the firm’s operations and what changes they suggest to current practices. While evaluating the Burger King in the light of conduct and policy, which is a key industry issue identified, it seems that the organization has designed comprehensive policies and programs to manage its supply chain operations and employee performance. This efficiency in conduct and policy is the major factor that helped the Burger King to grow its business landscape over the last 60 years. When it comes to brand reputation, Burger King is a globally recognized brand enjoying a massive advantage of high brand value (Food Business News, 2009, p.22). It is obvious that Burger King’s products are consumed globally and the company has the strength of millions of satisfied customers. Therefore, the great brand reputation gives the company a significant edge over its rivals in the marketplace. To sum up, the Burger King’s CSR activities appear to be successful while analyzing their responsiveness to the industry issues identified.
A critical evaluation of the Burger King’s CSR effectiveness in the lights of the objectives followed by the company reflects that the CSR policies of this food giant are effective to meet its stated goals and objectives. As discussed already, the Burger King has been following a stakeholder-driven business model throughout its corporate history. It is interesting to see that the firm’s CSR initiatives focus specifically on different stakeholder groups. To illustrate, the Burger King considers customers as the top priority stakeholder group and provides them with extensive information and enhanced facilities for making well-informed meal choices. In addition, the company is committed to deliver quality products to its customers at affordable costs and to enhance transparency in communicating with customers. The company gives second priority to employees. It is clear that employees are generally interested in fair compensation and enhanced career opportunities (Young, 2015). In an attempt to respond to this stakeholder need, the company promotes meritocracy in its organizational environment (Ibid). To illustrate, the Burger King management takes employee performance into account while offering rewards and career opportunities to employees. Realizing the significance of communities in a business environment, the Burger King management has established the Burger King McLamore Foundation with intent to promote charitable activities in communities. For instance, this organization finances educational programs in communities (Johansen, 2014, p.na). In total, the company’s CSR initiatives are in line with its CSR objectives.
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