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What is Corporate Social Responsibility? Facts to Know for International Management Courses

Apr 26, 2018 3:43:20 PM / by Geneva Business School

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The past year has reignited conversation on corporate social responsibility (CSR), whereby businesses pursue social causes alongside their profits. For instance, the #MeToo movement and Facebook data scandal have forced high-profile businesses to renew their ethical commitments to employees and customers alike.

While encouraging for the future of ethical business, these calls to action seldom provide a clear picture of CSR and its emerging properties. For young business professionals, understanding CSR and its economic influence is crucial.

Are you looking to learn more about corporate social responsibility? Read on for some important CSR facts.

Business Experts Distinguish CSR from Standard Compliance

From water conservation to data sharing, CSR shapes business practices in all sectors. Yet, many sectors have compliance agreements in place that alter the nature of voluntary CSR. According to business experts Abagail McWilliams and Donald S. Siegel, CSR implies a social good pursued beyond what is legally required of businesses.

For instance, a company’s environmental commitments would not qualify as CSR if they merely complied with international trade agreements. While some business experts now push for more legal oversight, CSR is generally understood to be voluntary and extralegal.

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CSR concepts help international management students assess international business practices

Distinguishing between voluntary and complying social commitments is crucial to understanding CSR. In their appeals to customers, companies can attempt to blur this distinction and misrepresent legal obligation as altruistic commitments. They can also emphasize their social involvement to obscure non-compliance in other less public areas, like employment diversity. Since international businesses are subject to many jurisdictions, students in international management programs must be especially mindful of how different legal obligations change the nature of a business’s projected CSR.

Students in International Management Programs Should Consider Consumer and Employee Perspectives

In the current socioeconomic climate, the consumer appeal of CSR can hardly be overstated.  A recent poll by Cone Communications found that 78% of Americans wanted companies to “address important social justice issues”. According to the same poll, 87% of participants would buy from a company committed to a cause they cherished, and 76% would refuse to buy from a company with practices contrary to their beliefs.

In the past, studies have found the business repercussions of corporate social responsibility to be inconclusive. Yet, the impact of CSR in the current climate remains to be seen, especially as industry experts now consider ethical business a must, rather than a potential edge. In addition to consumer perspectives, socially responsible businesses are listening to their employees. CSR helps businesses recruit and keep top industry talent, offering their employees better work conditions and a sense of social commitment.

Understanding CSR Means Identifying Cultural and Socioeconomic Trends

Students in international management courses  can trace corporate social responsibility through international business trends. In broad terms, CSR commitments revolve around either internal workplace culture or external company impact. In the former category, businesses are looking to build on the #MeToo movement, which raises important questions about corporate culture and the treatment of women in the workplace. Companies around the world are taking a critical eye to office behaviors and the policies in place to help employees report incidents.

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CSR commitments reflect the generational priorities of ethically-minded business leaders

As for external company impact, industry leaders are especially mindful of their carbon footprint. Beyond making charitable donations to environmental causes, companies are now looked upon to integrate preventative ecological measures into their daily operations. Cyber transparency is another important concern for ethical businesses, with industry leaders like Facebook renewing commitments to data security and user privacy.  As these issues continue to evolve, placing greater demands on ethical business, so too will the face of corporate social responsibility.

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Topics: master in international management, international management programs, international management courses

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