Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also called socially responsible investment, is defined as the active and voluntary contribution to social, economic and environmental improvement by companies, in general terms with the aim of improving their competitive situation, value and its added value.
Although CSR goes beyond compliance with the laws since compliance with regulations does not relate to social responsibility, but rather to the obligations that any company must comply with just because a business activity is being undertaken. This is not a culture of philanthropy and is not the aim that companies become a charitable activity since they are made to be profitable.
The social, economic, legal and institutional environment shapes the activity of the companies, which see how their changes may produce further changes in their objectives and the expectations and demands to be met by the different stakeholders. Among the features of the environment that are most influential in the development of CSR are:
- Globalization. Prominence and drive of supranational organizations
- Development of civil society Increased citizen's participation
- Demands arising from various social, economic (such as business scandals) and environmental (climate change) challenges.
- New forms of work organization.
- Technological innovation, especially the emergence of the Internet as a universal network of telecommunications.
This environment has led in the first place to large companies and sectors (energy, paper industry, etc.) introducing in their commercial and management practices some elements of CSR as a result of:
- Voluntary commitments and self-regulation of environmental and social issues that, in addition, act as entry barriers.
- Conditions on certifications and other issues imposed on their supply chain
- Standards and regulations developed by public organizations.
For all these reasons, CSR is the role that companies must play in favor of Sustainable Development, that is, in favor of the balance between economic growth, social welfare and the use of natural resources and the environment. This balance is vital for businesses operation. Companies must become an active part of the solution of the challenges we have to face as a society, as it is in their interest to have a more stable and prosperous environment, taking an active and responsible stance on their operations' impact.
CSR implies that companies adopt a corporate culture, a way of doing business that guarantees greater sustainability over time to the company itself and to its economic growth. An enterprise must not only perform specific actions or develop particular practices; it must take CSR further: it must incorporate it as a vision, a way of doing things 365 days a year.
Sustainable development is the goal to be achieved through the proper implementation of a socially responsible business model, in which the different stakeholders are the essential focus of management. CSR objectives are linked to the needs of those social groups and individuals affected in one way or another by the existence and activity of a company. Within these, we can identify those that belong to the structure of the organization, called internal, and those that are not in its structure, called external, but that relate to it, although still being independent of its organizational structure, figure
- Shareholders /Owners
- Workers recruited through manpower agencies.
- Customers/users of products and services.
- Workers or professionals/free-lancers who bill their services.
- Social actors understood as public stakeholders: trade unions, consumer associations, business organizations, etc.
- Mainstream groups: media, analysts, NGOs.
- Stock markets
- Public Administrations
- The local community, neighborhood and other associations, foundations and political parties.
- Civil society and the general public. People, organizations, and consumers in general that even not having a direct relationship with the organization can have an impact on it.
- Future generations in their relation to the environment and the natural physical surroundings including the air, water, Earth, flora, fauna, nonrenewable resources, as well as the cultural and artistic heritage.
In short, the CSR can be understood as the culture of a company to generate a positive impact in society, through processes that are beneficial to workers, customers, the environment and the community at large. And not as a fad or just carrying out specific actions.