THE EVOLUTION OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

The fundamental and primary purpose, as well as obligation, of any business is to provide a service or products to satisfy customers that will provide employees compensation and job retention commensurate with their skills, as well as remuneration to their investors.  To do all this, the company must make a profit.

That in and of itself is the fulfillment of their responsibility to the community at large.  A company that cannot meet these standards and goes out of business is abrogating its principal social responsibility to its customers, its employees, its investors and the community.

If it can, in addition to its mission as we have outlined it, provide some measure of social responsibility to the community, so much the better.

To whatever extent time and profits allow and are available good business practice recommends contributions to the communities’ needs.  Companies have for many years donated resources and money to this endeavor.

Way back in the 30’s this was called community service.  The Little League baseball parks in all the small towns had its outfield walls covered with ads from local businesses—the gasoline station, cleaners, grocer and drug store.  This paid for the players’ jerseys and the equipment.

By the time we got to the 60’s, this endeavor was called “Public Relations” and went way beyond Little League.  Now there were sponsorships of community-wide events and civic affairs on a large scale, and then became “Community Relations.”

This all grew into the naming of sports venues, big money sponsorship of spelling bees, debate competition, golf tournaments, and all manner of community activities.  Companies do this to help the communities and present a good image.

As we got past the turn of the century, with growing concerns for the environment, all this community outreach expanded into “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).  How do you define CSR?

CSR programs allow companies to plan the elimination of their waste and have as little impact on the environment as possible.  A positive impact on society may be accomplished through educational and social programs.  The social programs can include charities and using locally-grown products.

The term CSR originated in the 1960s as a term used to explain legal and moral responsibilities of a corporation.

This new paradigm was brought home to me in hearing about Gabriele’s grandson’s immersion in CSR as a business school graduate at the University of Colorado.

Here is a partial description of Nathan’s outline of the CSR educational goals:

“The Six Prime Principles of CSR provide us with a roadmap for how best to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into management education through the implementation of transformative, issue-centered learning and extensive reflective practice and fieldwork.  Transformative learning involves profoundly understanding oneself in relation to colleagues, communities, ecosystems and their interdependencies.  In the implementation of PRME Principles 2 and 3, individuals undergo a process of introspection, exploring and revising their beliefs, values, behavior, and their unconscious bias.  In issue-centered learning, students apply their values to global issues through a methodological framework that entails a holistic and inclusive perspective of society, the environment and economics.  Issue-centered learning is fundamentally multidisciplinary, adopting a systems approach to problem-solving, which enables future globally responsible leaders to practice complex decision-making processes while maintaining consideration for all aspects of the triple bottom line.  Lastly, reflective practice and fieldwork include a non-textbook approach to education, where students receive invaluable experiential learning.  Internships and project work can substitute for the textbook and give students a hands-on experience of business concepts through practical ventures.  This empirical form of learning coincides with the last three PRME principles of research, partnership, and dialogue.  Future globally responsible leaders develop invaluable connections, tools, and experience to successfully better the world by helping to achieve the SDGs with business knowledge as their weapon.

“The implementation of this roadmap empowers students to become set to deliver immeasurable impact as sustainable entrepreneurs, responsible leaders, and enlightened statesmen capable of reflective awareness.  As sustainable entrepreneurs, they will maintain a visionary and long-term perspective, ensuring that SDGs such as responsible consumption and production and climate action are valued.  As responsible leaders, they will focus on inclusion and promote gender equality and reduce inequalities.”

Heavy stuff…and now he’s successfully practicing this course of action with a firm in San Diego.

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