A little push for Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR emblem - Girl with a crown of leafs

The commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – is an acknowledgement by companies that they are part of their social and natural ecosystem, and that they should protect it and help it thrive. Within its small means, ASEAN UP today takes a small step to foster CSR in ASEAN and further.

The dangers of irresponsible business

The irresponsible conduct of business can lead to disastrous consequences for people, for businesses big and small and for the environment . In this matter, ASEAN is not different from the rest of the world: Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – is a major challenge for ASEAN companies to acknowledge and embrace, and consider themselves first through their involvement with people in local and global communities.

Within emerging economies, some think that the more developed countries and their businesses have damaged the environment for decades to grow themselves, so they are the ones who should heal it now. In this perspective, emerging countries could let their businesses do whatever they need to develop themselves and their national economies.

This reasoning is wrong.

Polluted water

First, because making profit by all means usually ends up damaging the local environment and communities. Most of the time, that leads to negative consequences in the medium or long term for the faulty business: pollution resulting in staff diseases, regardless of their rank, lawsuits, employees’ strikes, bad reputation… Which also affect in the parent country in the end.

Second, as late comers into the economic game, developing countries’ businesses can benefit from better, cleaner and cheaper technologies. Even more so, they are much more aware that consequences on the environment or people of such or such practice can be harmful. They would therefore be “more” responsible of bad behavior than previous generations of less understanding businesses would have been.

Third, and foremost, developing and developed countries, in ASEAN or elsewhere should make a stand for a ethical practices. The 21st century is an age of sharing knowledge and advanced science and technologies. Being officially engaged towards progress and social welfare can lead to a competitive advantage in the eyes of new, responsible consumers.

A new breed of socially responsible consumers

Throughout the world, there is an emergence of new socially and environmentally aware consumers. Still in its infancy, this global movement towards consuming safer products, more natural and more responsible production, is starting to make a significant impact on developed economies, and appearing in developing ones.

These people are conscious about how they consume, spending their money as a way to encourage positive principles and business practices. It could only be a matter of time before this consumption trend becomes mainstream. “Ethical”, “clean”, “safe” and “natural” could soon become the norm that would push anything else out of business.

It is time for small companies and large corporations to make a stand for their people, and their environment. Not only can they help protect people and the environment, but they can also benefit from using and offering new technologies and products, smarter services and ways of doing business.

When it comes to doing good, every little thing counts.

ASEAN UP’s little input for CSR

In this beautiful new world, ASEAN UP doesn’t pretend to be anything big. It is a website dedicated to empowering the business community of ASEAN: providing resources, news and tools that can help businesses and professionals in ASEAN.

ASEAN UP CSR symbol: a cute girl with a crown of leavesYet through theses small means, ASEAN UP will try to make a little difference by bringing more attention to the contents that can be considered to have a positive effect.

What does it mean concretely? From now on, ASEAN UP will bring extra visibility by creating a new category for Corporate Social Responsibility resources, represented by this cute little Vietnamese girl with a crown of leaves, in which will be integrated all resources that  promote any of the following topics:

  • social welfare: people’s health and education, safety and understanding, empowerment of women, promotion of peace and openness of society
  • environmental consciousness: protection and restoration of wildlife and natural environments, enhancement of urban and work environments
  • ethical conduct of business: sound corporate governance, transparent business practices and fight against corruption, protection of social rights and fostering of professional skills development

Hoping that this little push for Corporate Social Responsibility will draw some attention towards responsible business conduct, ASEAN UP will remain attentive in order to help and promote more CSR activities whenever possible.

2 Replies to “A little push for Corporate Social Responsibility”

  1. My comment on your blog is part of an assignment for a Business Ethics course I am currently studying and the requirement of this assignment is to post a reply to a blog that we have found with a claim or position we could argue against.

    Your blog has the view of attempting to push Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on Companies or Businesses to acknowledge their part in the social and natural ecosystem within their local communities and globally, you also state that they should protect it and help it to grow. You support Businesses and Companies who spend money on protecting the environment and you more or less say that it is the Companies or Businesses responsibility to do so.

    How can it be the Company’s or Businesses Responsibility? It was Milton Friedman who said “what does it mean to say that a ‘business’ has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities,” (Friedman, 2005). Milton also refers to ‘a corporation as being an artificial person and therefore may have artificial responsibilities, but a “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities even in this uncertain sense,’ (Friedman, 2005).

    More than likely the individuals who are to be responsible are business men and women alike; which are generally corporate executives or individual owners. These business men and women are employees of the owners of the Company or Business, they would have a direct responsibility to their employer. This responsibility would entail running the business or company how the employer wishes and in accordance with their instructions. Generally speaking a Company or Business is normally run to make as much profit as possible, while still abiding by the law and rules of society, “both those embodied in law and embodied in ethical custom”, (Friedman, 2005). Based on this objective the business men and women’s primary responsibility is to their employer and to run the business as instructed, therefore having no responsibility towards Corporate Social Responsibility. Albeit I do believe that each individual has a moral duty within themselves to protect the environment, but then that is not what this blog is referring too.

    Friedman’s stance can be spilt into two types: Philosophical and Economic. The philosophical argument is “only people can have responsibilities…businesses as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities.” (Sparks, 2003) The economic argument “is the traditional one that businessmen are no more than agents of the shareholders who ultimately employ them”. (Sparks, 2003). ‘A lot of critics have argued that a Company or Business’s main purpose is to maximise returns to its shareholders and that it does not have any Corporate Social Responsibilities to society as a whole.’ (Source: Boundless, 2014).

    You mention that when Companies and or Business make profit they generally end up ‘damaging the local environment and communities, leading to negative consequences, staff diseases, etc, etc.’

    How can this be so, when so many Companies and or Businesses are behind a lot of community fundraising and environmental issues. There are Companies and or Businesses who will front up with FREE community days for all the family to get involved and enjoy and who get behind community events with sponsorship. They organise planting of native trees along streams and rivers to help maintain and grow our environment and to get the community and society involved. There are Companies and or Businesses who are happy to help and lend a hand not to be forced and pushed into something that is not ultimately their Corporate Social Responsibility.
    Corporate Social Responsibility is looked at by most people as enforcing moral responsibility beyond the lawful duties forced upon Companies and Businesses by the law of a government.

    Pushing Business and or Companies into spending money on protecting the environment and suggesting it is the Businesses or Companies responsibility to do so, as this way of thinking will soon become a trend and could become the norm that would push anything else out of business. This way of thinking is absolutely atrocious and any sensible business man or woman who are employees of these Companies or Businesses will see that and realise that protecting the environment is the Governments responsibility not the Companies or the Business. They should abide by the relevant laws within their society and country but leave the environmental protection to their government. The government or local councils regulate most things within a country, a community or land district, such as water usage, sewage, roading, environmental issues (and the list goes on).

    So why shift the goal posts now onto Companies and Businesses to pay for their own environmental protection when it is already done by the Government.
    References

    Friedman, M. (2005). The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. In G.D Chryssides & J.H Kaler (eds), An introduction to business ethics (pp.249-254). London: Thomson Learning. Copyright George D. Chryssides and John H. Kaler.

    Source: Boundless. (2014, November 18). Retrieved from “Arguments for and against Corporate Social Responsibility.” Boundless Management. Boundless: https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/ethics-in-business-13/corporate-social-responsibility-98/arguments-for-and-against-corporate-social-responsibility-459-10563/

    Sparks, R. (2003). ‘A Pragmatic Approach to CSR’. Address given to the school of Management, the London School of Economics, (London 19 May 2003).

    1. It seems that you are somewhat just arguing for the sake of it, while you are already convinced of the real benefit of CSR…
      Anyway, thank you for your rhetorical reply.

      For those who would need to argue for CSR, here are some quick clues to counter the arguments you raise:

      -corporations are legally “moral persons”, it would therefore seem all natural that they should be responsible for their actions, just like normal persons. This is especially true since they usually have more resources than people to correct damages they can create.

      -corporate leaders should also be held responsible, of course. However, this doesn’t mean corporations should not be reliable, especially since they are the one to impact the environment and social welfare (with large factories, production processes, transports, workforce) and that the chain of decision in a corporations and responsibility is not always easy to define (managers, shareholders, available technologies, regulations in place…).

      -governments should also be responsible for the environment and social welfare. Yet, many Southeast Asian governments still lack the means to ensure a proper protection of the environment and social welfare. To this end, it is therefore even more important to involve everyone here, for the well being of all: people, companies, governments.

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