'Corporate social responsibility' has been around as a recognised discipline for decades – but how many people really understand what it's all about, and how it can benefit their business?
Do the right thing is unlike any other book on this complex subject. Forget baffling jargon and complicated theory. This book will help you get to grips with improving your organisation's environmental management, sustainability, health and safety and trading ethics with straightforward guidance and tips. You'll understand the basics, recognise the benefits and get ready to put principles into practice from day one.
"Success will only come from making sustainability ‘how we do business’, fully engrained within the day-to-day heartbeat of a company… And that’s why I’m so supportive of the work that IOSH is doing with this book."
Richard S Gillies, Director, Plan A, Marks and Spencer plc
"I welcome this new book from IOSH, designed to bring clarity and understanding to a subject that’s critical today, and will become increasingly important in the decades ahead."
Baroness Greengross OBE, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Corporate Responsibility
The scope of CSR
If an organisation is to harness these benefits, it needs to consider a wide range of factors. These include community, environment, ethics, human rights, responsibility in the market and its workforce.* Each of these factors is summarised below, before we analyse them more deeply afterwards.
An organisation should consider its impacts on the local and wider community. Investment into the community may take the form of jobs and salaries, charitable donations, staff time and skills, and donations in kind. Transport is an important factor – for example, employees commuting to and from work will affect the local roads.
An organisation should identify the impact its goods and services have on the environment. As part of its planning, it should seek to minimise negative impacts, for example by investing in habitat creation schemes.
An organisation will inevitably be judged on how it makes its decisions, and how these decisions are implemented. For example, would it be ethical to explore for fossil fuels in Antarctica, even if it were allowed?
Ethical principles reflect the values of the organisation, which are seen in the context of the values of its stakeholders and the society in which it operates.
A civilised society recognises the right of every individual to liberty, freedom of association, free speech and personal safety. These form the basis for codes of human rights found at the core of national and international laws, such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Responsibility in the market
Organisations can have a real impact on society through their marketing activities. For example, should cigarettes or sugary drinks be advertised during screenings of films for children? Responsibility in the marketplace can strengthen organisations' competitive edge – or damage it.
The key issues include ethical advertising, relationships with suppliers, relationships with customers, distribution, packaging and the process of creating the product or service itself.
Recognising organisations' impact in the workplace means understanding the business benefits and the wider social impact of good employment policies. This not only covers the traditional areas of recruitment, remuneration, training and health and safety, but also the growing concerns – and opportunities – of issues such as diversity and equal opportunities.
We will now consider each of these elements in greater detail.
No organisation operates in a social vacuum. They employ people, use suppliers and have relationships with customers. Organisations' decisions on their location affect the local community, as do the employment and procurement decisions they make.
In Chapter 2 we considered the potential impacts of the location of a supermarket, but communities can be equally affected by establishing a new major manufacturing plant or closing down a mine, using local suppliers or investing in deprived areas.
By aligning the organisation's goals with the community's needs, both can benefit. A technique that's gaining increasing interest, particularly in connection with new projects, is the ESIA, or environmental and social impact assessment.