Corporate social responsibility seems to be one of those topics that is loosely tossed around and few understand. According toLord Holme and Richard Watts for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, CSR is defined as follows: “The continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”

This means businesses are taking into account all facets of their companies to ensure that the internal business, external business, environment, and surrounding communities are all coexisting in harmony.

There are four components to corporate social responsibility:

Economic: A profit must be made

Legal: Procedures must follow laws and regulations

Ethical: A connection must be made with employees who feel safe and comfortable in the work environment.  Is also means making ethical decisions and maintaining transparency

Discretionary: The philanthropy component

In order to be successful, social responsibility is an extremely important focus for management teams and corporate divisions of companies.  Remember, it’s more than just making a profit.  It’s important to make a profit while maintain a healthy relationship with all other entities to the company.

Corporate social responsibility is about a partnership.  It’s about making a statement about the company and its practices.  It puts an emphasis and priority on civil rights, environmental protection, ethical product sourcing, fair trade practices, employee wellness and other areas of interest.

That means making sure that a company isn’t harming an ecosystem, say through an oil spill: BP in the Gulf of Mexico. It means bringing clean drinking water to less fortunate people in the world: Ethos Water. It means caring about fuel emissions.  This means being a good world citizen and doing so for reasons other than success. As public relations students, we must recognize that corporate social responsibility is one of the most important conversations that companies can have these days. We are facing global problems in civil rights, environmental protection, poverty, disease and famine.  It’s vital for businesses to take the action necessary to see the world we want to live in.

It’s time to be responsible and global citizens.   Let’s hope all companies take the same interest in these values.  We’re all in this together.

— Lance Heisler, Account Executive

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