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What is corporate social responsibility?

What is corporate social responsibility? 
CSR aims to ensure that companies conduct their business in a way that is ethical. This means taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact, and consideration of human rights.

It can involve a range of activities such as:

Working in partnership with local communities
Socially responsible investment (SRI)
Developing relationships with employees and customers
Environmental protection and sustainability

Some businesses have as their main purpose the fulfilment of social or environmental goals, as opposed to a business that tries to achieve its financial goals while minimising any negative impact on society or the environment. These businesses are called Social Enterprises.

Why is it important to organisations?
There have been increased demands from employees, customers and government bodies for businesses to be more open about their activities and to reach, and maintain, acceptable standards in their business practice.

For employers, CSR is now seen as an important way to increase competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build trust with customers and employees.

How to find out about a company’s CSR activities
Many larger companies now publish information on their CSR activities on their websites. There are also a number of indices such as the following: Business in the Community - Top 100 companies from the Corporate Responsibility Index 2011.

FTSE4Good - can help you identify environmentally and socially responsible companies.

(sourced from The University of Edinburgh).