Role of Corporate Social Responsibility

The responsibility of the corporate towards maintaining the sustainability of the environment, from which it draws resources, is also well highlighted by this concept. The concept took root when it was considered important to introduce ‘ethicism’ or ethics into business and business activities, integrating measures for economic and social uplift and environmental sustainability for the benefit of the community and thereby society at large.
The concept of corporate social responsibility has attracted many brickbats as well as a great deal of applause since the time it was begun to be introduced as a business policy whereby business houses were to go beyond their legal obligations and take measures with a view to developing the society and sustaining the environment. Advocates of the concept of corporate social responsibility have been of the strong opinion that functioning with the larger vision of the welfare of the community rather than the immediate profits would bring about larger economic benefits for the company in the long run. The critics, however, are of the opinion that the primary essential role of business is to make profits. They opine that social and environmental issues are not the concern of corporations but of the government and other related organizations, and trying to assume these tasks would tend to veer their course away from their ultimate goal of maximum profits, which would, again, unfavourably impact the fundamental functions of the corporation and hence its employees and the community.
The concept of corporate social responsibility involves the incorporation of ethical values into the functions and processes of a business, emphasising that economic gains need not necessarily be at the cost of ethics and values, and that non-economic social values can also be nurtured by a business house for the betterment of the community, the society and the environment. Examples are the corporate environmental responsibility measures taken by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Lexmark to minimise environmental pollution caused directly and indirectly by their activities. PricewaterhouseCooper’s (2008) efforts towards maintaining environmental sustainability include the reduction of total carbon emissions by buying energy from renewable sources, improving space efficiency so as to consume less amount of power, resorting to energy-saving measures, reducing air miles by upgrading phone and video conferencing facilities, etc. Lexmark (2008) designs its products as well as their packaging so as to cause minimum impact on the environment. They also have a collection program so as to facilitate recycling of the packaging.
There are several factors that have evolved over the years and driven the business world to adopt the concept of corporate social responsibility, especially related to environmental issues, as a functional policy. One of the foremost among these is the growing general awareness of the consumers of the serious impact of their increasing consumption on the society and the environment and its depleting resources globally. This has led to their positive lean towards commodities and services that are products of sustainable techniques that least if at all, impair natural resources.