Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

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Sometimes referred to as corporate responsibility or corporate citizenship, CSR is a broad concept that can take many forms depending on the company and industry. In general, it is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public. Also, the practices put in place by a corporation to manage the social, environmental, and economic effects of its operations while promoting sustainability.

Some aspects may be required by law, such as the requirement of banks to protect people’s private information, while other aspects are voluntary. Generally, CSR encompasses all the practices put in place by companies in order to uphold the principles of sustainable development. Also, what it means to be a sustainable or responsible organization – that to be economically viable, the organisation must also have a positive impact on society, and respect and preserve the environment.

Some institutions provide more specific definitions of CSR: The European Union, in an attempt to offer a framework for companies wishing to invest in sustainable development, published in 2001 a Green Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility defining CSR as: “The voluntary integration of companies’ social and ecological concerns into their business activities and their relationships with their stakeholders. Being socially responsible means not only fully satisfying the applicable legal obligations but also going beyond and investing ‘more’ in human capital, the environment, and stakeholder relations.”

The ISO 26000 international standard defines CSR as: “The responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, resulting in ethical behavior and transparency which contributes to sustainable development, including the health and well-being of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; complies with current laws and is consistent with international standards of behavior; and is integrated throughout the organization and implemented in its relations.”


Corporate Social Responsibility (UNIDO)