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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Filed under Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, Social Cohesion

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