Neil Smith and Joan Bigham


In Tomorrow's Company's paper, "Redefining CSR," the London-based think tank offers one of the simplest and clearest definitions of "corporate social responsibility

(CSR)." "Social means 'towards society.'" The word that really matters and often provokes the most reaction is "responsible." Corporate social responsibility, according to the paper's author, Mark Goyder, is "the responsibility we expect companies to show in being part of society. In short, we expect... that companies not only behave responsibly towards their shareholders, but in all their relationships with people, the natural environment, and society generally." The paper goes on to identify two types of corporate social responsibility: "compliance" CSR, driven by the expectations of external stakeholders and the pressure of public reporting; and "conviction" CSR, which is led by a company's vision and values. The most successful industry leaders, such as Dow or DuPont for their air and water quality initiatives, are those who have a vision that goes beyond the profitable delivery of products or services to affect the quality of people's lives. They also ensure that the company does what it says it stands for. In doing so, these business leaders insist that the company's values are part of every business decision (Goyder, 2003).

The best companies do not confine their practices only within laws and regulations that govern their business, but instead prefer to encourage employees to stretch their thinking to go beyond the minimum legal and regulatory requirements. To these companies, explains Goyder, "CSR is a natural and practical expression of values for which they have always stood and will continue to earn the public's trust. Every behavior flows naturally from the company's purpose and values."

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