Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Corporate Social Responsibility, commonly known as CSR is a well-known buzzword these days. If you work in the corporate world, you must have come across it. So what exactly do we mean by this heavy term? Well, it’s more than big companies planting gardens and banning plastic on their premises. And yes, it is indeed a top priority.

CSR is an organisational policy ensuring that the organisation performance is based not only on its profit and growth but also on its ability to jeopardize society including its employees as well as customers, its adverse environmental impact and failing to comply with regulations by law. CSR encourages firms to increase the positive impact on the society in ethical ways and it should be a requisite part of business strategy.

In no way, it implies that CSR is centered entirely on how an organisation spends its money on campaigns on social welfare, awareness events and supporting NGOs. CSR should be, ideally, an integral part of how an organisation responsibly make profits and develops itself creating a prosperous society for itself as well as for others.

The Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh in 2013 is one of the most heartbreaking examples to explain CSR. The collapse of the building resulted in the death of more than 1,100 workers. The workers were involved in textile production, manufacturing garments for biggest international brands like Mango, Benetton, Bon Marche, Kik, Primark and many more.

The Collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh; Image via Wikipedia

The horrific incident unveiled the truth of the textile industry. The big corporates should be held responsible for not providing and ensuring safety and humane conditions for workers. It’s not a sustainable practice to sell products manufactured by workers that do not have access to basic human rights and involve dangerous ways of doing work and even child labour.

CSR cannot be confined under laws and political regulations of any country. Globalisation is expanding the reach of organisations in an interconnected world. The regulations strictly implied in the US might be easy to overlook in Indonesia. Although some proportion of trade can be regulated through laws but for a big change, only self-induced ethical responsibility is the efficient way.

A smart customer is also an important aspect in driving CSR forward, it might be the most important. As an increasing amount of people are getting aware of the bad practices in the business, they tend to avoid it, thrashing the concept of ‘manufacturing demand’ to the ground. Sustainable fashion brands, eco-friendly products, organic food have a high demand in the market.

It’s all good until the organisations start painting themselves green. Advertising themselves as eco-friendly has become a norm to sell more. The water bottle companies that claim to recycle all of their plastic bottles hardly delivers on the promise. The bottles are often shipped to poor countries where workers, often underage, work with bare hands and legs sorting the trash. The mountains of this trash out in the open or inside the landfills have adverse impacts on the environment.

That’s where transparency comes into the picture. Many companies produce CSR reports depicting the regulations and amendments in the firm that fell in course with sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

In some countries, it is mandatory to produce such reports under regulations. Hence, CSR is a voluntary and self-regulatory endeavour, but its legislation is necessary to provide a good push to it.



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