According to J. M. Moneva and JL Lizcano, we understand Corporate Social Responsibility to be a company’s voluntary commitment to society and the environment, stemming from their social commitment and responsible behaviour towards companies and social groups with which they interact. However, it focuses on the satisfaction of the interest groups’ needs through certain strategies, whose results it should be possible to measure, verify, and communicate accordingly. Therefore, CSR goes beyond simply fulfilling legally established regulations, and obtaining exclusively economic results in the short-term. It entails strategic planning which will affect decision-making and the operation of the entire organization, while creating long-term value and significantly contributing to obtaining lasting competitive advantages.
The objective of CSR is to address different subjects concerning social justice such as the integration of those with disabilities in the workplace, gender equality within companies, environmental commitment, the needs and aspirations of staff, etc. And as a result of these different projects, obtain improvements in the internal working of the company, on an economic, social and environmental level; as well as providing reliable and complete information concerning the business activity that has been carried out; introducing sustainable business activity into our natural environment; strengthening competitive advantages regarding the reputation of the business (increasing quality, attracting and increasing loyalty of human capital) and developing the business while generating higher profits. All of this implies that this subject should be addressed by following a clear strategy, in line with the company’s culture and values.
CSR was promoted during the 90’s to encourage an internal cultural change within businesses, by incorporating into company management a more extensive and profound vision concerning their impact on society and their responsibility towards it. We can see that its activity occurred mainly in multinationals, while small and medium sized companies as well as public administrations were left aside, but which together constitute a large part of the population and therefore of the impact for which it was promoted. Business initiative and participation should therefore be improved in this sector, in order to strengthen its activity in the different aforementioned levels. I consider that this initiative, when worked on in an optimum way, and adapted to each company’s capacity, can bring many social benefits, both for company staff and for the business and its surroundings. I therefore consider that it is necessary for every type of business to participate in this area (always to the extent that they can, bearing in mind the type of business in question), because every activity, however small, can influence in greater social well-being. However, it should be taken into account that not all actions need imply economic expense, because there are alternatives such as collaboration which is just as important.
Furthermore, if the company proposes and plans a good CSR project, this good business practice will be positively perceived by the community, which will create a positive reputation for the company. Therefore, implementing this is favourable to the company, given that it can encourage better human capital, and help in the hiring of new talent. These positive social activities mean that professionals would consider that forming part of the company in question would be an ideal professional opportunity. It therefore implies that when selecting new candidates, the company can aim at professionals with greater potential, which will significantly help both the candidate and the company. However, we should not forget that this is not the only objective for which these practices are carried out, and therefore the business actions should not only be based on this principle. Rather they should act by following certain business values connected with culture and CSR, while obviously bearing in mind the company’s profits, because these were not created merely for charitable reasons. For this reason, the activity carried out must be adapted to the company’s possibilities (as mentioned before), such as its culture, because not all companies have the same principles, and if they go against these, it may be counterproductive for the company.
However, it is just as important to have a good CSR plan as it is for the staff to be fully aware of the implications of this. It should be considered as a crucial business policy, that from the very first day that staff begin work there, they are aware of this plan, so as to maximize their activity and fulfilment of their objectives, and so that they themselves may benefit from this project, because these actions directly influence their motivation and performance. The CSR plan should therefore be included in the welcome handbook that is given to new employees.
Taking into account the latest study carried out by Ipsos (Key Audience Research), which concludes that in general it is perceived that in Spain there is not a prominent policy carried out in terms of CSR, while also stating that society does not perceive these efforts, this therefore implies that the social effort that is being carried out, as well as being strengthened, should also be communicated in a different way in order to create greater value in our society. Therefore, as I mentioned previously, it is just as important to get involved in carrying out an optimum and relevant CSR plan, as it is to communicate the activities being carried out correctly to clients (internal and external), in order to benefit from its results and implication, as well as exercising good practice in CSR, the reason for which the company was created.
To conclude, we should reflect and act according to the ecological principle of Hans Jonas “Act in such a way that the effects of your action is compatible with the permanence of real human life on Earth.”
Raquel del Árbol Fernández
Student on the Master in Human Resource Management, UPF Barcelona School of Management