Monthly Archives: October 2015

Social responsibility policies in the USA

 

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and communicating activities within the areas of philanthropy, stewardship, volunteerism and environmental affairs are not treated as a regulatory compliance issue in the United States of America (USA). Therefore, organisations are not obliged to satisfy their numerous stakeholders’ expectations vis-a-vis their corporate sustainability and responsibility practices. CSR practices are voluntary practices encompassing laudable behaviours that go beyond financial reporting requirements. At the same time, it must be recognised that sustainable and responsible practices are increasingly being embedded into core business functions and corporate decisions, such as supply chain, transportation, engineering and marketing. In this light, this chapter sheds light on major US institutional frameworks that have been purposely developed to foster CSR engagement among organisations. Policies, principles and voluntary instruments include formal accreditation systems and soft laws that stimulate business to implement and report their CSR-related activities. Several agencies of the US Government are currently employing CSR programmes that are intended to provide guidance in corporate citizenship and human rights; labour and supply chains; anticorruption; energy and the environment; as well as health and social welfare among other issues.

This contribution looks at the US governmental institutions’ processes and their discretionary investments in responsible behaviours, in terms of financial and human resources. It looks at the establishment of particular standards, procedures and expectations. There is a discussion on how US entities have often interpreted their own view on business ethics and corporate citizenship, within the context of their own organisation. Moreover, it contends that there could still be a lack of an appropriate definition which could encapsulate CSR terminology. Arguably, as corporate responsibility becomes more widely understood, accepted and practiced, there could be positive implications for greater convergence of common activities that could be included in corporate responsibility disclosures. In conclusion, this chapter posits that there are indications that US business, industry and governmental organisations are changing their attitudes on CSR, sustainability reporting and corporate governance. It also identifies the drivers and actors that are raising the CSR agenda in the USA.

Excerpt from: “Camilleri, M.A. (2016) A descriptive overview of social responsibility policies in the United States of America. In Idowu, S.O. & Vertigans, S. (eds) CSR in Challenging Times. Springer (Forthcoming)”.

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Corporate Social Responsibility for Business and Educational Outcomes

trngExcerpt from one of my recent chapters, entitled;

“Re-conceiving Corporate Social Responsibility Programmes for Education”

 

During their learning journey, individuals acquire knowledge and skills that ought to be relevant for their career endeavours. The provision of quality education and its assurance is the responsibility of national governments. Yet, business and industry also offer training to human resources that supplements formal education. Very often, educators are expected to respond to challenging issues such as skill shortages and mismatches where candidates lack certain competencies although they attended compulsory education (Allen and De Weert, 2007). Their knowledge and skills may be too deep to bridge through corporate training sessions. Perhaps, there is an opportunity for global businesses to compensate for this deficiency in the education (Gibb, 1993). Corporations can shift their operations where it is viable for them to tap qualified employees. However, the constraints on their growth can be halted by the broad impact of inadequate education and training in some industries or regions. In this light, this chapter contends that big businesses may become key players in addressing unmet needs in education. Several companies have the resources and the political influence to help improve educational outcomes; which will in turn help them cultivate local talent. Leading businesses are already devising corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes that are actively supporting education across many contexts.

Therefore, this chapter redefines the private sector’s role in the realms of education. It posits that there are win-win opportunities for companies and national governments as they nurture human capital. Indeed, companies can create synergistic value for both business and society (Camilleri, 2015a). In the main, such a strategic approach may result in new business models and cross-sector collaborations that will inevitably lead to operational efficiencies, cost savings and significant improvements to the firms’ bottom lines (Pearce and Doh, 2012; Porter and Kramer, 2011). Notwithstanding, this contribution suggests that the businesses’ involvement in setting curricula may also help to improve the effectiveness of education systems in many contexts (Azevedo, Apfelthaler and Hurst, 2012; Seethamraju, 2012). Businesses can become key stakeholders in aligning educational programmes with their human capital requirements in the job market (Walker and Black, 2000). There is a possibility that their CSR programmes reconnect their economic success with societal progress.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Resources Management

Many companies are gaining a high reputation in corporate social and responsibility. While the cause marketing of the past primarily targeted consumers in sales transactions, today’s cause marketing is often concerned with the company’s strongest ambassadors — its employees (Kotler and Lee, 2008). Undoubtedly, businesses are contributing to the well-being of their human resources and the surrounding communities. Yet, other firms may resort to CSR and greenwashing to generate publicity and positive impressions among stakeholders (Visser, 2011; Jahdi and Acikdilli, 2009). Many academics, argue that the most successful CSR strategy is to align a company’s social and environmental activities with its business purpose and values (Visser, 2011; Porter and Kramer, 2011). Responsible actions have the power to reconceive the organisations’ purpose and values toward society. The first step towards developing a CSR mentality is to re-define the principles of the company. Arguably, the role of senior management is crucial in instilling an ethos for genuine CSR behaviours among employees.

Businesses know that prospective employees consider a variety of factors as they evaluate careers. Some individuals value financial incentives, including salary, bonus potential and benefits (Gerhart and Fang, 2014; Bloom and Milkovich, 1998). Others may focus on professional development, advancement opportunities and location (Kehoe and Wright, 2013; Hunt and Michael, 1983). However, only recently multinational companies seem to realise that through CSR they can better engage with their employees (Bhattacharya, Sen and Korschun, 2008). Evidently, CSR can provide incentives to employees that may potentially be even more alluring than money (Branco and Rodrigues, 2006).

Socially Responsible HRM affects employee task performance and extra-role helping behaviour (Shen and Benson, 2014; Korschun, Bhattacharya and Swain, 2014). In fact, their empirical results indicated that CSR that is directed toward employees is an indirect predictor of individual task performance and extra-role helping behaviour. Another study by Deloitte (2004) has yielded very similar results. 72% of US respondents indicated that they would opt to work for a company that also supports charitable causes; if they had to choose between two jobs offering the same location, job description, pay, and benefits. According to this study, the majority of the youngest survey participants have indicated that their decision to work for their current employer was based on company culture or reputation (Pfeffer, 2007; Deloitte, 2004). Evidently, these respondents also valued the opportunities for growth and development as well as their salary and benefits package. This Deloitte study has indicated that the corporate social responsibility agenda will remain relevant for tomorrow’s business leaders. Apparently, the youths’ generic characteristics may bring distinct CSR behaviours (Pomering and Dolnicar, 2009). Young people often place high importance on making a positive impact on society. Very often, organisations are capitalising on corporate influence on social trends including sport activities (Smith and Westerbeek, 2007). Such a viewpoint could encourage an examination of the overlaps between the social responsibilities of sport and business.

These findings seem to suggest that employees want to belong to an organisation that stands for more than financial performance (Korschun et al., 2014; Vanhamme, Lindgreen, Reast and van Popering, 2012; Tang, Hull and Rothenberg, 2012). Employees are attracted by companies that are truly CSR-oriented. In addition, the businesses’ genuine intentions and goodwill can help to improve the brands’ image among stakeholders. Thus, even if employees do participate in CSR initiatives, they still want to be associated with an organisation that cares about its social impact (Shen and Benson, 2014). Therefore, it is in the companies’ self-interest to underline their CSR performance during events that are aimed to attract top talent. Apparently, more companies are realising that CSR is a great opportunity to engage with employees and to illustrate their commitment to the community at large.

 

Citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2015) Re-conceiving CSR Programmes for Education. In Vertigans, S. & Idowu, S.O., Corporate Social Responsibility: Academic Insights and Impacts, Springer (Forthcoming).


 

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The ‘Creating Shared Value’ Proposition

The following is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions, entitled; “Corporate Social Responsibility: Theoretical Underpinnings and Conceptual Developments”

The concept of creating business value is not new to academia. Wheeler et al. (2003) came up with a simple framework for the creation of value. They reconciled the concepts of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development (or sustainability) with a stakeholder approach. They held that the reputational and brand value were good examples of intangible value. Although, they failed to relate reputation and branding to economic value over the long term, they came up with a business model in their value creation approach. Their sustainability model embraced the concepts of CSR, corporate citizenship and the stakeholder theory (Wheeler et al. 2003). In a similar vein, Porter and Kramer (2006) claimed that the solution for CSR lies in the principle of ‘shared value’. According to Porter and Kramer (2011), the businesses are in the best position to understand the true bases of their company productivity. It is in their interest to collaborate across profit and non-profit boundaries. Porter and Kramer (2011) gave relevant examples of how efficient processes are aimed at adding value to the firm and to society at large.

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(Porter and Kramer , 2011)

The authors explained that the creation of shared value focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress. A shared value proposition requires particular areas of focus within the businesses’ context (workplace) as well as looking after society’s interests (comprising the environment, marketplace and the community) for the firm’s self-interest. The enterprise’s performance must be continuously monitored and evaluated in terms of its economic results. Creating Shared Value (CSV) is about embedding sustainability and corporate social responsibility into a brand’s portfolio. All business processes in the value chain (Porter, 1986) operate in an environmental setting within their wider community context. Porter and Kramer (2011) held that this new approach has set out new business opportunities as it created new markets, it improved profitability and has strengthened the competitive positioning. Crane and Matten (2011) admitted that Porter and Kramer (2011) have once again managed to draw the corporate responsibility issues into the corporate boardrooms. Crane and Matten (2011) had words of praise for the ‘shared value’ approach as they described the term as compelling and endearingly positive.

Elkington (2012) argued that sustainability should not be consigned to history by Shared Value. The author recognised that Porter and Kramer’s shared value proposition is undeniably a key step forward in corporate strategy. Yet he maintained that shared value can play a key role in destroying key resources, reducing the planet’s biodiversity and destabilising the climate. Then Elkington (2012) went on to say that Porter reduced corporate sustainability to resource efficiency. Eventually, Crane, Palazzo, Spence and Matten (2014) have also critiqued Porter and Kramer’s (2011) shared value proposition. They argued that this concept ignored the tensions that were inherent to responsible business activity. They went on to suggest that shared value is based on a shallow conception of the corporation’s role in society. Eventually, Porter and Kramer (2014) admitted that “shared value” cannot cure all of society’s ills as not all businesses are good for society nor would the pursuit of shared value eliminate all injustice. However, Porter and Kramer defended their (2011) proposition as they argued that they had used the profit motive and the tools of corporate strategy to address societal problems.

 


Citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2015) Corporate Social Responsibility: Theoretical Underpinnings and Conceptual Developments. In Vertigans, S. & Idowu, S.O., Stages of Corporate Social Responsibility: From Ideas to Impacts, Springer (Forthcoming)

 

References

Crane and Matten blog (2011). Url: http://craneandmatten.blogspot.com/ accessed on the 15th April 2012.

Crane, A., Palazzo, G., Spence, L. J., & Matten, D. (2014). Contesting the value of the shared value concept. California Management Review, 56, 2.

Elkington, J. (2012). Sustainability should not be consigned to history by Shared Value accessed on the 19th June 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/sustainability-with-john-elkington/shared-value-john-elkington-sustainability

Porter, M.E. (1986). Competition in Global Industries. Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Porter, M.E. and Kramer, M.R. (2006). Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review, (December 2006), pp. 78-92.

Porter, M.E. and Kramer, M.R. (2011). Creating shared value: How to reinvent capitalism – and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. Harvard Business Review, (January/February), pp. 62-77.

Wheeler, D., Colbert, B. and Freeman, R.E., (2003). Focusing on value: Reconciling corporate social responsibility, sustainability and a stakeholder approach in a network world. Journal of General Management 28(3), pp. 1-28.

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