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Our planet Earth is outraged, violated and marred. Human civilization has played an ominously grimy hand in environmental destruction for the past few hundred years. Industrial revolution, World Wars, nuclear tests and bombing, oil and radiation spills, alongside mass deforestation, urbanization, fossil fuel consumption, and other infractions against nature have worsened matters for all the species. The world’s natural ecosystems are ruthlessly ravaged. Ecological footprints are increasing at such a radical rate that many vast regions of our world is facing an ecological deficit.
These, alone, are not the only crises that challenge us. Illiteracy, poverty, hunger, disease, ceaseless wars, over-population, and innumerable other problems are still wrecking the world at large. Industrialization has always been, in particular, the antagonist of the ecosystem. Modern scientific and technological advancements; increased use of gadgets and electronic items are notable contributors to nature’s desecration. However, the past few decades witnessed a change. Many companies, of all sizes, are becoming socially responsible by keeping a check on how much we are wasting, and are struggling through a much delayed fight to protect nature and life.
What is Social Responsibility?
Since we are the transgressors against nature and humanity, it is only fair that we take it as our moral and ethical onus to try and maintain sustainability in the ecosystem, to control the damages, and restore what has already been lost. Social Responsibility is a constitution which advocates that people, as individuals or organizations, has a responsibility to work for the welfare of the world at large. It is an essential act, a duty which all must perform, to sustain equilibrium between the financial systems and the biosphere. It is a burden that falls upon all of us. Individual Social Responsibility (ISR) is the most crucial tool of rebuilding the world.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the duty of organizations and companies to ascertain that they bring about positive changes in the society, and that they give back to the world. This means that corporations need to carry out their activities in a way that is beneficial, healthy and for the welfare of the society, while maintaining ethics and transparency for consumers.
Relationship between CSR and ISR:
Individuals from all over the world are becoming socially responsible. Initiatives are being taken to reduce global warming, control habitat loss, and support millions of humans suffering from war crimes, starvation, disease and other tribulations. Since corporations comprise of individuals, they are strongly influenced by the beliefs and activities the people who work in them.
The International Organization for Standardization expressed:
“In the wake of increasing globalization, we have become increasingly conscious not only of what we buy, but also how the goods and services we buy have been produced. Environmentally harmful production, child labor, dangerous working environments and other inhumane conditions are examples of issues being brought into the open. All companies and organizations aiming at long-term profitability and credibility are starting to realize that they must act in accordance with norms of right and wrong.”
Threats to Our World:
Natural ecosystems are all either seriously threatened, or they are about to wrack and ruin. Over the next thirty years, the world might witness the extinction of one-fifth of all surviving species. 5-10% of tropical rainforest will deplete every decade. Each day 25,000 people die of water shortage or contamination. Each hour 1,800 children die of starvation. Each hour carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere rise by 12,000 tons.
The most critical threats to our world include:
- Global Warming
- Clean and Renewable Energy
- Ocean System Collapse
- Electronic and Nuclear Waste
- Water Degradation
- Land Rush
- Biodiversity Conservation
- Increased Human Population
- New Technologies
- Habitat Loss
These are just to name a few; there are countless other ways in which the world is suffering as per the environmental degradation facts, despite the measures being taken by individuals and corporations to achieve sustainability.
The Corporate Promise:
There are several reasons for companies to jump on the Social Responsibility bandwagon. These include the opportunities to be innovative; cut back on costs and expenditure; allowing their brand to stand out; scope for long term planning; engaging employees in company activities; and retaining the interest and loyalty of customers.
The past few decades have seen a steady rise in the number of companies and corporations who are working for the betterment of people, other species, and the world at large. Primarily, these corporations are driven towards CSR by their reputation at stakes. Most modern consumers report to choose their brands based on the activities of the corporations. Social responsibility can make or break a company.
Here are a few examples of multinationals that are socially responsible:
1. Google has been ranked the most socially responsible corporation in the world. ‘Google Green’ is an initiative to efficiently use resources and promote sustainable energy. In comparison to other data centers, they consume 50% less energy. Google has financed renewable energy projects with over $1 billion. There are several other projects that the search giant has initiated, and many others that it supports.
2. Starbucks is researching and developing ways to enhance sustainable coffee production. It follows a rule book called ‘C.A.F.E Practices’ that paves the way for environmental leadership, high quality products and economic liability. Another Starbucks project is ‘Ethos Water’, which ensures and supplies clean water to people.
3. Cisco has launched several global initiatives that work for education, healthcare, disaster relief, and economic empowerment. The company has a volunteer program for its employees; each year a total of over 160,000 hours is spent by Cisco employees on these projects.
There are many other companies, regardless of their size, that are making sizable contributions to the welfare of the world. You can read about Dell, IBM, Verizon, Deloitte, Disney, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Intel, BMW, and Apple, among others, which are making philanthropic efforts in different countries. However, companies that we might not have heard about are also bringing about a change. Companies like TOMS Shoes, Out of Africa, Prime Five Homes, Charitable Agents, Altered Seasons, and Survey Monkey have changed the lives of millions of people in different countries.
It is difficult to say that the ‘Corporate Promise’ has been kept up. There may be a few thousand socially responsible companies, but the destruction is caused by governmental activities and millions of corporations and individuals. We are still lingering far from restoring the world to a sustainable balance, and it will take a much greater effort by all the nations combined to achieve this far-fetched goal.
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