Corporate Social Responsibility

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    Socially responsible practices are transmitted via international trade

Socially responsible practices are transmitted via international trade

Why firms engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) is widely debated, particularly in the context of the 2019 Business Roundtable statement by US chief executives, which redefined the purpose of a corporation as promoting an economy that serves not only shareholders but all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers and communities. Despite these debates, there is surprisingly little direct evidence […]

COVID: how corporations can improve their impact on society

As the COVID-19 crisis began to impact the work of changemakers around the world, I felt it was important to create a community where people responsible for social change could get ideas and inspiration in the face of an unprecedented level of uncertainty about the future. This became “Change for Good”. Over sixteen weeks, leaders from corporations, foundations and […]

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    Will purpose ever replace shareholder value maximisation as the corporate governance lodestar?

Will purpose ever replace shareholder value maximisation as the corporate governance lodestar?

As governments wrestle with the economic and public health challenge of COVID, attention is turning to the part business should play in the recovery and aftermath. Will companies funnel government bailouts and wage subsidies into dividends and bonuses? Or repay the debt by committing to their workers and communities and investing more in developing the products and services of […]

What else can the world’s billionaires do?

I remember a pivotal moment in Deewar, one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters of the 1970s, when Bollywood still had the courage to make movies about exploited industrial workers. Amitabh Bachchan, India’s biggest ever star and angry young man of the day, having decided to make big money at any cost in revenge against a rich man and his […]

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    The sharing economy is thriving, but the work of volunteers is often overlooked

The sharing economy is thriving, but the work of volunteers is often overlooked

Airbnb’s open homes program aims to create a social impact by connecting hosts with refugees to support their integration. Uber claims that its car sharing makes cities cleaner. Whether and how the sharing economy helps to advance the agenda around sustainability and to address contemporary societal challenges has stirred important and often heated debates. For many the sharing economy […]

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    What leads financial and non-financial firms to adopt corporate social responsibility?

What leads financial and non-financial firms to adopt corporate social responsibility?

In an era when the voice of customers, environmentalists and other interest groups is getting stronger and stronger, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly adopted by firms and other organisations as a strategy to reduce business risks and achieve results that satisfy both shareholders and stakeholders.

CSR is associated with a large number of related concepts such as business ethics, […]

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    Mainstreaming environmental, social and corporate governance

Mainstreaming environmental, social and corporate governance

Businesses in today’s marketplace, in both the financial and non-financial sectors, have to pay attention to the environmental and social impact of what they do, as well as to respect high standards of corporate governance. The group of standards is commonly referred to as ‘ESG’. ESG is now a mainstream activity. President Trump resists. He is mistaken (again).

I see […]

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    A market for values would reconcile profit with a higher social purpose

A market for values would reconcile profit with a higher social purpose

How would capitalism be if values such as environmentalism were tradable on a market? How would companies contribute to society if we could price not only goods and services, but also principles such as justice? Economic transactions involving the choice and practical implementation of socially relevant values may be an option to reconcile sustainability and profit, and, more in […]

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    Impact investing: can funds achieve both social impact and returns at scale?

Impact investing: can funds achieve both social impact and returns at scale?

Popular opinion has it that ‘investing for the common good’ has gone mainstream. Yet our research finds that only a small proportion of funds has consistently generated market rate return and measurable social and environmental impact at large scale – especially in capital-starved emerging markets’ small and medium enterprises (SMEs), often deemed as risky and unattractive by mainstream investors. […]

When employees retreat from corporate volunteering

Support for employee volunteering is a corporate social responsibility activity that signals commitment to social values and citizenship. It is also a strategic initiative that helps companies recruit new talent. Indeed, both researchers and practitioners argue that companies that facilitate their employees’ volunteering are viewed more favourably by job candidates and are therefore more likely to attract talent, especially young […]

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    Corporate social responsibility and the dehumanisation of people

Corporate social responsibility and the dehumanisation of people

One of the hallmarks of moral and ethical progress in the world of business has been the increasing recognition of just how embedded organisations are in the wider social, cultural and physical environments that they occupy. It might seem a trite notion to many now, but the idea that firms influence – and are influenced by – the wider […]

How beneficial are benefit corporations?

Benefit corporations are a new, fast-growing legal form of for-profit incorporation. They are under no legal obligation to maximise shareholder value. Instead, they are legally bound to pursue social benefit. At present, Benefit corporations (or some variant thereof) exist in the UK, Italy, and 31 of the 50 states in the US. Legislation is advancing in Australia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia […]

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    Red or blue? Political ideology and firms’ corporate social responsibility

Red or blue? Political ideology and firms’ corporate social responsibility

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are, essentially, people. They enjoy many of the same rights and responsibilities as individual Americans. But do profit-seeking enterprises also have discernible political ideologies? Our research suggests that they do.

In a recent study, we demonstrate that employees’ personal donations to the two major American political parties serve as an accurate […]

PR gone wrong: the backlash effect of window dressing

Window dressing, by Connie Ma, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
Entrepreneurs dress up their windows. Greengrocers display their greenest apples in crates in front of their shops. Financial institutions improve the appearance of their fund’s performance near the end of the quarter. And oil companies’ launch campaigns to let the world know that they are investing in environmentally friendly technologies.

At first sight, […]

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    Firms adopt corporate social responsibility for complex reasons

Firms adopt corporate social responsibility for complex reasons

The traditional perspective for engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) assumes that early adopters are more authentic than late adopters.  Why? Those that fear their operations aren’t CSR friendly take longer to bend to the will of external stakeholders, and report later. On the other hand, “best practice” organisations release CSR reports in advance of stakeholder expectations, taking advantage […]

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    Environmental disclosure: corporate accountability or greenwashing?

Environmental disclosure: corporate accountability or greenwashing?

Nearly all of the 100 largest companies in Japan, France, and the United Kingdom — and the vast majority of such companies in the United States — issue sustainability reports. These very high reporting rates reflect increasing pressure on companies from stakeholders — including investors, consumers, governments, and civil society — to be more transparent about their environmental impacts.

Does […]

Can businesses police the behaviour of global suppliers?

A group of activists wanted to shine a spotlight on the opaque supply chain that provides raw materials for cellphones. What they discovered was just how difficult that can be.

The supply chain for consumer electronics is one of the least transparent in the world. Each cellphone chip comes from a different supplier, and the raw materials that go into […]

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    Corporations need to avoid the ethical blindspots of volunteerism

Corporations need to avoid the ethical blindspots of volunteerism

Employee volunteer programs supporting corporate social responsibility/sustainability (CSR/S) goals demonstrate authentic commitment and provide a platform for other benefits, as well. Organizations may involve employees as community caretakers and loan executives to nonprofits. CSR/S-linked volunteer programs have the potential to attract and retain employees and to enhance their job satisfaction. Moreover, corporations gain positive publicity when news and social […]

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    Community involvement lends legitimacy to firms’ social accounting

Community involvement lends legitimacy to firms’ social accounting

Social accounting is a broad term describing a range of company reports on community or wider stakeholder engagement. It is often viewed as a simple process of one-way communication as a company seeks to put forward an account of its social impact. It is less regulated in form than financial accounting, and its purpose is usually framed as winning […]

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    Customers often believe that suppliers who engage in CSR charge unfair prices

Customers often believe that suppliers who engage in CSR charge unfair prices

There is no disputing that CSR engagements such as corporate donations and responsible supply chain practices offer many advantages. To illustrate, consider the fact that Microsoft donated more than $1 billion (!) to charitable causes in 2015. Beyond the benefits for society, companies such as Microsoft benefit from their CSR engagement themselves: Many studies show that customers feel a […]