What is CSR?

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility

…but what exactly does that mean?

According to the United Nations, CSR is ‘the overall contribution of business to sustainable development’ – in other words, trying to make sure that the impacts a business has on the environment (in terms of using energy, resources, etc.) are minimised.

However, CSR is much more than that. The ‘responsibility’ part of CSR is not only about the environment, but also about society (or, if you prefer, people).

So in essence, we can say that CSR takes into account 3 key areas:

People, Planet & Profit

This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – the idea that a company needs to balance profit-making (which is essential if a business is to remain a business) with ensuring that their behaviour is ethical in relation to the people and the planet.

CSR is a relatively new concept – the term has only been around since the latter half of the twentieth century. However, the idea is gaining momentum, as more and more people become aware of the impact businesses have on the environment and society as a whole.

That’s not to say that CSR is always viewed positively: it has its critics. There are those that argue that CSR is just a marketing strategy, while another school of thought is that businesses should focus on profit, and saving the planet should be the responsibility of government organisations and charities.

Overall though, it seems that CSR is embraced by many as a step in the right direction towards a brighter future, in which industry and environmentalism can work together in harmony.

But what do you think?

Further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility

http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/publications/innovationbriefs/no1.pdf

http://www.csrnetwork.com/csr.asp

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