During this century, there has been much change in what the society expects of its institutions and in what managers regard as proper roles in organization. This change has gradually developed into a new concept of corporate social responsibility.
Many managers are increasingly adopting the view that besides the obligations they have to their organizations, they have a personal responsibility to the society. This is because business organizations do not operate in a vacuum but have to constantly interact with society i.e. customers, suppliers, competitors, employees, government etc.
It can be said that ‘social responsibility’ deals with corporate conduct in respect to the broader societal values.
Being ‘socially responsible’ implies playing more than just an economic role in society. This is aimed at demonstrating that corporate organizations are just as capable as individuals of being ‘good citizens’.
There are two ways of encouraging firms to develop a sense of social responsibility:
(i) They can be forced law
(ii) They can be persuaded voluntarily.
In some countries, the law actually regulates the relationship between firms and their various stakeholders. However, in our discussion of social responsibility, we are generally referring to measures taken voluntarily firms as part of their wider role in society.
Areas that a socially responsible firm should address
The concept of social responsibility has attracted both supporters and critics. Some people argue that firms should take part in only those activities that lead to maximization of profit. Others feel modern organizations cannot afford to go about their business without responding to issues affecting the various stakeholders with which they interact. Whatever the argument, most organizations are increasingly participating in social responsibility programmes.