The principle of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important in our world striving for more sustainability and justice. But what exactly is behind the principle of CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) describes the responsibility of companies to contribute to the sustainable development of society through ethical and morally correct management. It is important that the voluntary commitment of the companies goes beyond the existing legal requirements of the respective country.
Taking responsibility for the environment and society – this is the focus of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate responsibility encompasses social, environmental and economic aspects that are set out in various international reference documents such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or ISO 26000. In practice, it is generally about fair business practices, an employee-oriented personnel policy, the careful use of natural resources, the environment and climate protection, serious commitment on site and at production sites as well as responsibility in the supply chain.
CSR – from antiquity to the present day
Already in ancient times, polymaths such as Aristotle stated that free economy should not be pursued exclusively for one’s own good, since every human being has duties towards his own society. In Europe, the model of the “Honorable Merchant” has existed since the Middle Ages, who, despite his activities, always had to adhere to given customs and social norms.
Probably the best-known example of an early type of CSR is the Fuggerei in Augsburg, which still exists today. The socially committed merchants acted as patrons and donors and built, for example, residential buildings for their employees. In this way, they contributed early on to the improvement of living and working standards in their society. CSR Platforms look very different these days, and there are plenty of organisations now focused on providing CSR software to help corporates meet their responsibilities.
CSR – a definition of terms
Nowadays, the terms corporate social responsibility and sustainability are used as synonyms in most companies. In theory, however, the concept of CSR is far more precise than sustainability. Specifically, it is about the specific contribution that companies make to sustainable management.
The term corporate responsibility has also been increasingly used in recent years to highlight the economic dimension of sustainability. In addition, a misunderstanding can be avoided, as the “social” in CSR is often translated as social. This often leads to the misconception that the CSR concept is limited to the social dimension of corporate sustainability.
Furthermore, “Corporate Citizenship” (CC) refers only to the commitment that goes beyond the actual business activity of a company, and thus includes the area of the charitable commitment of the companies. Corporate citizenship is therefore essentially limited to sponsoring, donations and foundation activities.