What Is Corporate Social Responsibility? And Does It Actually Do Good?

Social Responsibility

When it comes to business, no company is perfect. There are always going to be negative press and scandals that ripple throughout society. 

While it’s unfortunate to be put in such situations, there’s an opportunity for brands to come out on top again. 

The solution? Corporate social responsibility, or CSR. It’s a set of principles that guide businesses towards focusing their efforts on things like sustainability, ethical sourcing, and philanthropy. It’s also become a buzzword with many interpretations among consumers and businesses. 

So, what is CSR? Does it really do good? Keep reading to discover more about CSR and its role in business today!

What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility – or CSR – is the philosophy that businesses should act as responsible members of their communities by considering the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the environment. 

In short, it’s the idea that businesses should be socially responsible. 

The core idea of businesses operating as responsible members of their communities has been around since the beginning of commerce – but it wasn’t until the rise of NGOs in the 1970s that the concept of “stakeholders” and the rights of non-shareholders became a topic of conversation. 10 years later, this was brought up again – and eventually, the term “corporate social responsibility” was coined and has since become a mainstream term. Here are a few great examples of CSR initiatives:

Sustainable Sourcing

Businesses should consider the environmental impact of the items they’re sourcing and producing. The rise of social media has shed light on many of the dark corners of production, including the treatment of workers in sweatshops, the use of child labor, and the destruction of habitats in the process of harvesting certain goods. 

Ethical Production

Another component of sustainable sourcing is ethical production. This includes the treatment of employees, their pay, and working conditions. 


Companies are expected to do good, but philanthropy can go further. Philanthropy is the use of corporate money to solve social issues such as child poverty and fair education. 

Does Corporate Social Responsibility Actually Do Good?

For many, the issue with CSR is that it doesn’t actually do good. It’s a buzzword that has no real meaning and can be applied to anything and everything. There are cases where businesses are misleading, and others where they’re not even putting in the effort to make a promise. 

The key to making CSR work as a legitimate strategy is to be transparent about what actions fulfil the criteria. It’s not enough for a company to say, “We’re committed to doing good!” They need to be specific about what that means.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that businesses can’t be all things to all people. At the end of the day, they’re still a corporation looking to make money, and they should be expected to put the interests of shareholders first. 

That said, there is room for brands to go above and beyond – and that’s where CSR comes in. By setting clear and measurable expectations for what constitutes CSR, businesses can build trust and loyalty among consumers, drive greater sales, attract and retain better employees, and positively impact their communities.


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