Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Evolution of Corporate Responsibility: A Basic Overview

The acronyms CSR—corporate social responsibility and CER—corporate environmental responsibility, are used in relation to terms of behavior in the corporate world stemming from social norms regarding a company’s or firm’s economic, moral, and ‘organisational obligations’. 

The corporate environment existed a few centuries before its appearance in literature in the 1930s when CSR began with the ‘generation of profit’—company narrative being guided by profit.

Corporate Responsibility

The corporate environment has continued through each decade’s social expectations including economic, legal, and ethical responsibility. The 1950s addressed the concept of defining what corporate social responsibility meant.
 
The 1960s was focused on management and employee satisfaction—the community’s social welfare. In the 1970s, this time human and labor rights were being taken into consideration and the improving of CSR, whilst the 1980s were concerned more with an ’operational perspective’—evaluating company CSR. 
 
In attempts to increase competitiveness, companies began to adopt a broader view, taking advantage of globalisation in the 1990s—with companies operating internationally or globally due to the rapid expansion of capitalism. This meant more global visibility, encouraging companies to become ‘good corporate citizens’.
 
The GFC—the global financial crisis from 2008 to 2011, saw an increase in the development of corporate responsibility. Today’s corporate world began in 2011 with its next phase being the ‘generation of shared value’.
 

Policies and Stakeholders

 
Shared value refers to the policies and practices of a company that add to and increase its competitiveness whilst at the same time improving the communities’ social and economic conditions in the local area, through examining connections between economic and societal advancement. 
 
The needs of stakeholders were to be taken into consideration which created a more holistic approach in companies.
 

Sustainability Frameworks

 
Sustainability is mainly concerned with fulfilling needs whilst at the same time protecting a company’s future well-being by the preservation of core values and important relationships throughout any increased change. 
 
Many companies employ the concept of a social license in promoting themselves publicly, by attempting to combine social, environmental, and economic legitimacy in a sustainability formula, also referred to as the triple bottom line—profit, people, and planet. 
 
To avoid becoming too rigid in their sustainability frameworks it was also noted that companies should employ ‘innovation and imagination’ in responding to change.
 
The event of climate change and the impacts of company policies and procedures on the environment were factors in CER. This has been greatly influenced by the United Nations Paris Agreement in 2015—a treaty on climate change—in which the world is to move toward net-zero omissions. 
 

Corporate Responsibility Today

 
Green technological innovation GTI has now been associated with CER and is concerned with reducing the environmental footprints of ‘innovation process and outcomes’. 
 
This plays a positive role in the development of sustainability, as the use of green technological innovation enhances corporate environmental responsibility and improves a company’s social licence. 
 
The weeks’ working hours now differ on returning to work post covid, which has created more flexibility and gives us the advantage of starting afresh. 
 
There are in some cases, the options of working a four-day week, part-time or on a casual basis as well as the hybrid option of working from home and the office— creating a better working situation, resulting in more choices for employees. 

The Advantages of the New Workplace

 
A good way to begin in the new work arrangements is to take some time to set goals and these can have sub-headings to break it down and include deadlines to reach. 
 
Mapping a journey to success with a plan can inspire and motivate people to side-step any limited choices to choose from—self-determination. 
 
Enrolling in classes or courses that can support or benefit a current or a future position that may be of interest, as there are many and varied online courses now available. While being a good team player is important, it is helpful to others to be an authority on something and could open up further career opportunities.
 
Being a good honest communicator is a valuable asset in the workplace as people appreciate being able to share difficulties as well as successes, creating a pleasant working environment. 
 
This encourages the team to enjoy what they do and contributes to productivity. It also highlights the benefits of working in a workplace, which can also provide any necessary training required. 
 
Overcoming the effects of the recent past’s ‘new normal’ and the adjustments experienced at that time is imperative for mental well-being. It’s important to keep learning, to move ahead and to help ward off apathy and any negative effects of repetition. 
 
Getting a head start on the new ways of working can contribute to setting up people and their companies for success.
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Cecily Bayly

Cecily Bayly

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