What is CSR?

 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) means that in addition to making a profit companies respect the needs of all partners with whom they come into contact as part of their business. These partners include employees, customers, competitors, suppliers, as well as the local community and the environment.

Cradle-to-cradle/circular economy
Climate change adaptation
Sustainable cities
Energy efficiency of buildings

Environment

Work-focused education
Health and wellbeing
Employing people from marginalized groups
Employee motivation and engagement
Work-life balance

Employees

Community


Volunteering
Pro bono services
Collections
Endowment funds (via the Pontis Foundation)

Market


CSR communication
Ethics in business
Responsible supply chain management

Environment


Cradle-to-cradle/Circular economy
Climate change adaptation
Sustainable cities
Energy efficiency of buildings

Employees


Work-focused education
Health and wellbeing
Employing people from marginalized groups
Employee motivation and engagement
Work-Life Balance

Community


Volunteering
Pro bono services
Collections
Endowment funds (via the Pontis Foundation)

Market


CSR communication
Ethics in business
Responsible supply chain management

 

Corporate social responsibility has a relatively long history. Certain authors like Caroll (2008) associate the formation of this concept with the Industrial Revolution.

Although the business community had shown an interest in society before, this concept first rose to prominence in the 1950s. Before this period, CSR was primarily associated with the philanthropic activities of entrepreneurs and a small group of stakeholders. Topics such as racial discrimination and environmental pollution first drew the attention of companies in the 1970s.

Corporate social responsibility in its present-day form started forming at the start of the 21st century. Especially during the first decade of the new millennium, CSR principles were integrated in the strategic management of companies, wider groups of stakeholders started to be considered, and companies started shifting their focus from philanthropy to the so-called triple bottom line. In addition to corporate social responsibility (e.g. volunteering, helping disadvantaged groups), this concept of responsible business also focuses on lowering the environmental impact of companies (e.g. carbon footprint reductions) and creating economic value (e.g. better risk management).

 

Corporate responsibility is not about selfless activities unrelated to the business, but rather about creating value for society that also helps the company achieve long-term prosperity.

CSR quotes

Corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is nice to do or because people are forcing us to do it, but because it is good for our business.

Niall FitzeraldUnilever

… I think I made the most money when I decided to head in a direction that would seemingly only benefit the people and society. The other direction, which seemed like it would only benefit me and harm society, ended up harming us both.

Tomáš BaťaEntrepreneur

Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals – they are both essential ingredients for long-term success.

William Clay Ford Jr. Ford Motor Company

What CSR looks like in practice

  • Saving energy, water and heat in operation and production
  • Minimizing waste production – aiming to reuse waste
  • Analyzing and reducing CO2 emissions in the context of climate change
  • Offering environmentally friendly products and services (production, design, packaging, transport, etc.)
  • Requiring suppliers to comply with environmental standards
  • Offering financial or non-financial support to public-benefit projects that have a connection with the company’s area of business
  • Building long-term partnerships with selected non-profit organizations with the goal of achieving positive change
  • Supporting employee volunteering and their engagement in decisions regarding corporate support for projects
  • Conducting business ethically and transparently
  • Improving the quality and safety of products (certification)
  • Offering innovative products with added social or environmental value
  • Complying with truth-in-advertising standards and providing complete information to customers
  • Promoting fair and equal relationships with suppliers, promoting corporate social responsibility among suppliers
  • Engaging in a dialogue with partners; communicating and reporting activities that have a social, economic, and environmental impact
  • Complying with occupational safety and health standards
  • Offering employee training and development
  • Ensuring workplace diversity and non-discrimination (equal opportunities)
  • Promoting employee work-life balance
  • Engaging in a dialogue about the employees’ expectations and needs; making them part of corporate decision-making

What are the main benefits of CSR for companies?

Increased sales (profits)

from offering responsible products and services, as well as having an improved reputation

More attractive to investors

leading to better access to capital

Increased loyalty among existing employees

Lowered costs

thanks to measures targeting environmental efficiency in operation and production

Better risk management

thanks to cooperation with suppliers and OSH programs

Improved reputation

and a more positive image among the general public