In recent years organisations have put tremendous amounts of time, money and effort into ensuring that their corporate image and reputations are better than they have ever been!
However, as onlookers it can be hard to distinguish between those who do this simply to appear as socially responsible as possible to potential investors, customers or the general public, and between those who genuinely believe that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important, ethical and moral part of their organisational culture, and something that they truly believe in.
"Corporate social responsibility is about how the company acts towards the community and environment in which it operates. CSR focuses on ethical business management through ways that improve and protect the environment and social relations and supply a positive public image."
The concept of CSR has been prominent now for the last two decades at least, with large cases such as the American sportswear giants Nike becoming headline news for years regarding their ethical and moral standings. Since then however, it should be known that Nike became one of the leaders in CSR, ensuring that all of it's wide range of stakeholders are aware of their new, clean approaches to social responsibility.
There is a whole host of other examples that could be named alongside this, as the age of social media in particular has risen, the everyday people are becoming more and more aware of the practice of companies of all shapes and sizes, and as soon as word spreads about an organisation there is nowhere to hide!
A more recent example of this can be found with the latest news regarding the German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen...
I short, evidence arose that the company (or a certain department within the company) had altered the newest cars using so called "defeat devices" during the testing process, so that readings of emission levels were in fact doctored in order to pass emissions tests.
The implications, as you may have seen yourself, have been significant, with thousands, if not millions of cars being recalled, costing the company billions of dollars.
This unethical and environmentally unfriendly behaviour has reached further than the cost implications however, with the entire reputation of the VW brand being tarnished.
The overriding lesson learnt therefore is that a little short-cut may not always pay off, as if issues are identified at a later date there can be massive repercussions. Having a mindset and business culture of being honest, open and caring (beyond the natural confides of your individual role) can pay huge dividends in terms of your corporate reputation.
For more Ethics based reading, you can find our case study Ethics Pack here: