Corporate Social Responsibility: The Role and Reasons for Business Involvement in Sustainable Development

 

 

By Tracy Ging, Deputy Executive Director, SCAA

 

Corporate Social Responsibility is defined as the voluntary commitment of businesses to include in their corporate practices economic, social, and environmental criteria and actions, which are above and beyond legislative requirements and related to a broader range of stakeholders—everyone influenced by their activities.

Corporate Social Responsibility - Issue #2 2012

When we speak of sustainability, I think it is important to make one thing clear: sustainable development is not the sole responsibility of business. It is useful to point that we can set realistic expectations, and so that people and organizations can move forward effectively. Issues of sustainable development for the planet, for agriculture, and for our industry go well beyond business. While business plays an important role, for sure, and will continue to be an important part of the solution, we are looking at systemic issues that will require active participation by a broad set of actors. Yet, there is a very clear role and reason for business to be a committed partner.

That widening of the circle certainly does not absolve business and in fact it does quite the contrary by defining specific roles and responsibilities for business, generally covered under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR assigns a role for business, but places some realistic edges that allow businesses to continue engaging in things that businesses do like growing their markets. The new demand on business is that it pursue those activities with a broader awareness of the system in which it operates, in other words with thoughtful consideration and meaningful action toward environmental and social issues.

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