A corporate strategy article by Thunderbird students Shen-Chun Lin, Aimee DeGrauwe, Eli Darby, Monica Willbrand, Raymond Caruso and James Moore
CSR: The Reputation Necessity
For most companies, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a face-saving, repair mission in reaction to some recently identified social injustice or industrial accident. Examples of reputation saving CSR have been seen with Nike’s early reaction to substandard working conditions or Union Carbide’s Bhopal tragic explosion in 1984. At best, most companies treat CSR as a cost center line item akin to corporate publicity or charity, where a separate division within the organization implements a “community outreach” program. Although these programs do have merit, they are mainly counter balances to the damages a corporation’s normal operations have on the community and environment. This inefficiency lies in the fact that many firms’ CSR attempts pit society and business against each other, when in reality they should be dependent. In addition, CSR tends to push firms into thinking generally, rather than about shared value. In the developed world, national and regional laws help regulate and limit the damage a company’s presence can have at large. From environmental regulations, to worker safety standards, many US and EU companies meet or exceed the bare minimums laid out by governments.