Why take the CSR concept so seriously?

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has been around for a long time, even though only some companies are now finding that it is an essential part of surviving in their industries. There are however two sides of Corporate Social Responsibility, one saying that it is an important part of a company’s reputation. The other side suggesting that it is just a propaganda tool which companies use.

Today’s corporate leaders understand, as did their predecessors, that work is needed to regain and maintain the publics trust. And they, like their predecessors are seeking to soften the corporation’s image by presenting it as human, benevolent and socially responsible. ( Survey: The world according to CSR. 2005)

Understanding that work is needed to be done in the company to maintain the company’s trust and support, is what all company leaders need to understand and implement into practice if they want to start being socially responsible and to be serious about it.

Large companies such as Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCooper and the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) have placed the Corporate Social Responsibility concept into practice and shown that it works. These companies take the concept very seriously because they want to regain and maintain their publics trust and support towards them. More and more companies are realizing that they have to start taking the CSR concept seriously otherwise their publics will lose their trust in them.

Even organisations such as the United Nations and the European Commission are taking CSR seriously. In Europe they are encouraging companies to monitor and report on their CSR. The United Nations and the European Commission have implemented CSR and support other companies to do so with the motto, ‘don’t just aim to make money, but protect the environment and fight for social justice as well’. (Survey: The world according to CSR. 2005)

CSR is sometimes used as a Public Relations tool used to generate good publicity towards a company’s image and reputation.

Too often, the impact on the company and its reputation is viewed as more important than the impact on the supply chain or the local community and in some cases “responsibility” has become a simple PR exercise. (Caulkin 2002)

The use of CSR should only be used by companies which do not want to just create a better reputation for the company. Companies that use CSR as PR tool just to generate a better image and reputation and enhance their profits should not be allowed to use it at all.

Improving performance on social responsibility with key publics.

All companies have key publics which they have to take into account when trying to improve their social responsibility performance. Some of BP’s key publics are their customers, their employees, pressure groups, the community, the media and their competitors. Every one of these publics has to be taken into account when BP was improving their performance on social responsibility.

Their customers would be active and very involved in all things that BP does. BP would take the customers into account because they would be very sensitive to what BP is doing; also BP would be careful in case they lost any of their customers on the bases of their performance on social responsibility.

Employees are also very active and very involved in all things and any issues that rise in the company. BP would definitely take their employees into account and try to get them involved in some type of activity on improving their social responsibility and BP would also have to gain the support from them.

Pressure groups would be active and know issues that rise in the company. They would be on BP’s back if any thing did go wrong. Therefore BP would have to take into consideration what the pressure groups thinks of them and how BP behaves towards them.

The community would be aware of certain things that would be going on with BP but would not know all details. They would also have to be taken into account because they are the people who are affected if the concept is to be implemented.

The media would be active; they would know if anything went wrong and would be the one to help BP if in need PR. They would be considered because BP would have to be very careful of what they say and do.

Their competitors would be both active and some would be aware. BP would have to look at what their competitors are doing and take that into account.

‘It is a chance for BP to show that its much-trumpeted embrace of corporate social responsibility extends beyond the boardroom and into the boondocks. That is why the company has sent scores of sociologists, anthropologists and other clipboard-toting consultants into bayside villages to listen and learn from its local “stakeholders”‘. (Business: Sociologists before geologists? BP in Indonesia. 2002)

This is an example of how BP handled their publics in Indonesia. BP sent sociologists to the local villages to listen to them because they are their main publics and the ones which they have to gain trust and support from.

BP would have to take into account all of its Publics when implementing the concept of CSR because all would have to be handled in a different way.

Implementing Grunig’s four models.

Companies wanting to implement Corporate Social Responsibility should take Grunig’s four models into account. A company such as the BBC has taken an approach to implementing CSR by involving all of their publics. They have all their employees active in some activity such as volunteering in the community. They have also made their centers open for the public, where the publics can use the company’s IT facilities, learn how to use the internet and meet local journalists. (Wells 2004)

Such actions as making the employees active in certain activities in the local community and also making the community active in the happenings of the companies, these are an approach which other companies can implement to the CSR. Making the publics trust and support the company will help the implementation of CSR. An extreme that the BBC implemented that attracted criticism was that all outside dealings that the BBC did, had to under go CSR monitoring, meaning that other companies that the BBC dealt with had to have some kind of CSR. This would tell them whether other companies were serious about CSR or not. (Wells 2004)

An approach would also to want to give something back to the community which the company centers are based in. Also to have the intention to gain and maintain the support and trust from the local communities instead of just making more profit.

The Grunig’s model which would be for the implementation of CSR would be the ideal model of 2-way symmetrical. This is the ideal model which is not often used by companies but it is the most appropriate. In this model the Publics views are taken into account and respected. The only other model that could be used would be the 2-way asymmetric model but it does not take the Publics view into account. Press Agentry and Public Information would not be the models that are most suited for the implementation of CSR and would not be encouraged to use.

Multinational companies are sometimes the one who try to be Corporate Social Responsible as a cover for the things which they actually do. Some companies rely on CSR to improve their image and reputation rather than actually helping the communities.

‘Too often, the impact on the company and its reputation is viewed as more that the impact on the supple chain or the local community and in some cases “responsibility” has become a simple PR exercise’. (Caulkin 2002)

Even though this is sometimes the case there are however the companies which are generally sincere about the attempt to be more socially responsible. Companies such as the BBC show that they are really sincere to being more social responsible by the efforts which they take to make a difference in society.

Multinational company that implement CSR should take it seriously and be sincere about what they are doing otherwise they should not do it at all.

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