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Corporate and Social Responsibility, and Environmental and Social Governance


CSR is the ethical responsibility an organisation accepts for its stakeholders, including its workforce, its community and its environment. It has a wide scope, focusing on the short and long-term impact organisations have on society, the environment and economies calling for them to recognise and respond positively to their responsibilities to the general public and wider communities in which they operate.

CSR is an integral business issue that continues to grow in importance. It is not a subject that organisations can afford to ignore as global attention is attracted by environmental disasters, the adoption of unfair labour practices and reckless financial practices. Organisations that implement this can also see advantages from improving organisational efficiency and effectiveness, building corporate reputation and trust, and maintaining consumer and investor confidence.

The scope of CSR and the business benefits it delivers are discussed in this topic.

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the ethical responsibility an organisation accepts for its stakeholders, which includes its workforce, its community and its environment. 

  • CSR is about the integrity with which an organisation governs itself and conducts its operations, the values it has and what it wants to stand for. It also includes how it measures its impacts and reports its activities. 

  • CSR has practical implications, for example organising activities so as to avoid polluting the environment, and recycling scarce resources.

  • The four main areas of CSR are legal, ethical, economic and philanthropic. 

  • By promoting ethical practices and becoming involved in the local community, organisations can have a positive impact on society.

  • For HR personnel CSR has benefits in relation to recruitment and retention, and employee development, and has become related to the concept of employer brand. 

  • To implement CSR initiatives, commitment is required from the very top of an organisation.

  • HR departments will normally be responsible for many aspects of CSR including equal opportunities and diversity, health and safety, work life balance and flexible working practices, and dealing with redundancies.

  • Finally, to present a balance, some critics think that CSR is really just a form of PR, and many organisations may not see it as more than a sophisticated marketing device. Others have argued further that profit-based organisations are responsible only to their shareholders, and not to society in general. 

  • Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) is increasingly replacing CSR as a fully integrated strategic objective that aligns with the organisations mission through the use of quantifiable measures and criteria. 

  • See our downloadable templates and tools here.