Every company’s goal is to make profits and create a niche in the business world. However, more often than not, the survival of these businesses depends on how well the businesses relate with the society within which they serve. A positive relationship is essential for businesses to get profits. Every customer has the urge to frequent firms where they feel that they are appreciated and respected. Customers will tend to shy away from firms that do not value them. This paper will investigate whether more ethical and social responsibility improves efficiency in the workplace.
Defining corporate social responsibility
In the marketing department of a company, Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) is a particularly vital tool. Many companies have come to realize that sales are steered by how the company’s image appeals to the target audience. In order to uplift the image of a company, engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an allure of many companies. Hohnen (2007) defines the concept of CSR as the ideology or a theoretical aspect of a firm that implies that the company or a firm is obligated to conduct its affairs in such a way that the benefits spill over to the society at large. Friedman (1970) argues that social responsibility is the act of corporate organizations to reach out to the society and ‘give back’. Ashridge (2005) defines CSR as a notion whereby firms and companies adapt social and environmental concerns in their operations and in the way they interrelate with the society on a purely unconditional basis.
Companies conduct a number of activities that are geared towards raising its standards in the eyes of the community. CSR vary subject to the category of the company, the location of the company and the government intervention. Some of these activities are discussed in the successive sentences.
The type of company and CSR
All companies are sub divided into a number of types depending largely on what they do and how they operate. Some of these businesses are categorized as follows: manufacturing companies, service companies, subsidiary companies, contractual companies and even extraction companies. All these different types have a different way of how they conduct their CSR. It has been found that very often; manufacturing companies tend to be more aggressive in this obligation when compared to other companies. The reason supporting that statement is that sometimes these companies find that the raw materials they use come from the environment surrounding the societies in which their operations are based in. An excellent example is the rubber company that manufactures polymers. The raw materials for the manufacture of such products come directly from the environment. Therefore, it becomes a duty to such a company to make sure that the environment stays preserved so that the company will not collapse as a result of environmental degradation. As such, the company reaches out through this concept of CSR to help rebuild the environs. There are many examples of CSR activities that may be conducted here includes tree planting, free training of the community on how to preserve natural habitat among others.
Also, since the production of such kind of products results in the manufacture and subsequent release of harmful gases into the atmosphere, CSR may be used as a way of mitigating the damage caused by these companies by alluring the community through offering them help in a number of ways including the aforementioned methods. Marketing companies also need to engage in rigorous CSR activities especially in cases where such companies market luxury products. For company marketing luxury products, a huge presence in the market is desired. One of the best ways to ensure guaranteed market presence is through engaging in corporate social responsibility.
Other general activities may include: joining in hunger relief projects by offering donations in the form of cash, products or even personnel, promoting and supporting sports clubs present in their towns of residence through giving them resources or offering rewards to winning teams, supporting education in the towns of residence through offering scholarships programs or participating in building of learning institutions, promotion of individual responsibilities through running campaigns and adverts that are positive for example, urging the people to drink responsibly among others.
Location of the company
The location of the company also affects to extent the kind of CSR activities that a particular company is to be involved in. A company must be involved in those activities that will appeal to the immediate society in which it is located before thinking of expanding boundaries. Two companies producing the same type of goods but operating from different areas have different notions of CSR. For example, a company present in an urban setting has different activities compared to a similar company present in a rural setting. These deviations come as a result of differences in the targeted audience. The approach to these different audiences in these two locations must also be distinguished. For example, in rural areas, a company may be involved in CSR activities such as offering free education and training to the farmers, offering incentives and subsidies to equipment sold to the farmers, establishing exceptional education systems, helping in build of appropriate infrastructure, participating and sponsoring games and sports among others. Those in an urban setting may find themselves involved in activities such as promotion of corporate and individual responsibilities through adverts such as advocating for safe sex among the youth, responsible drinking among others, etc.
Sometimes the government comes into the picture and forces companies to engage in CSR activities through offering them a number of conditions. For example, manufacturing companies who emit poisonous gases into the atmosphere as waste are forced to find a way to clean up this gas before releasing it to the environment. They are also given an ultimatum through which they are supposed to participate in activities of the community which result into preservation of the natural environment. Some of these CSR activities include planting of trees, supplying of seedlings and cleaning of rivers and sewerage system, where effluent from these companies go to pollute the rivers.
Hooker (2003) argues that a company which is ethical in nature and in conduct of its activities is more likely to be rewarded with an unblemished reputation as well as reaping significant financial benefits in the long run. This brings us to ask ourselves the question, what is ethics? And how do ethics bring about adept fortunes for a company? Willmott and Kjonstand (1995) define ethics as a set of generally acceptable codes of conduct in business, whereby a company or employees in the company behave in such a way that they instill trust and confidence in people whom they deal with by observing values such as honesty, truthfulness and professionalism. Ethics are intrinsic. Though, some may be acquires during the process of study, there is no exact place where such codes have been reserved for reference purposes. They have to be in born or acquired in a place of work. Most times, these codes of conduct are passed down through generations of workers, and it is hard to break them.
Using CSR and Business ethics to increase efficiency in a firm
CSR and business ethics work hand in hand to ensure that the company’s objectives, both short term and long term are met. Realistically, it is still possible to meet goals of a particular company without necessarily engaging in CSR activities or business ethics. However, companies who engage in such activities have reported a more positive response from the customers as compared to companies which do not.
Business ethics promotes professionalism in the workplace. Without professionalism, employees would be at liberty to act in any way they please. Each company has an unspoken set of rules or codes of behavior that every employee adheres to without questions. This is what is called professionalism. Professionalism and ethics involves prioritizing the best interests of a company but in such a way that treats the customers with respect and dignity. Since professionalism perpetuated by business ethics offers no room for individualism, individuals working in a particular company will have no time to conduct affairs other than what they are supposed to do. This increases the level of efficiency in the company as production is increased. CSR on the other hand is geared mostly to the uplift of image of the company. It is the dream of every employee to work in a company that is regarded highly by members of the society in which it belongs. Through CSR, a company is capable of redeeming its image in the eyes of the community. It is believed that a well-motivated employee can deliver quality work efficiently. CSR serves to lift the morale of these employees making them love what they do and consequently, produce more.
Effect of CSR and business ethics on a company’s reputation
People tend to associate themselves with leading companies that constantly engage themselves in activities that aim at making the livelihoods of these people better. The more a company offers to engage in CSR activities, the more likeable the company becomes in the eyes of the community. Companies will always strive to maintain a clear image in the eyes of the society. No rational consumer will purchase products from a company that does not have a valid social standing. Many customers will want to conduct business with a company whose employees behave as true professionals. They want to buy products from places they feel they are respected, employees are courteous, services are done quickly and efficiently, and where complains from them are handled in a professional manner. Companies that offer their clients such offers are said to gain a strong reputation in the eyes of these customers.
A strong reputation is paramount to a company. It translates to confidence in the goods from the company, and confidence in goods means more sales and more sales mean more revenue. Companies having an outstanding reputation earn more revenue than companies whose reputation has in one way or in the other been compromised.
Effect of CSR and business Ethics on potential and current investors
Investors and potential investors are mainly concerned with what returns their specific investment will bring to them. As rational beings, no investor knowingly and unwittingly invests in portfolio or assets of a company that he or she knows will bring in losses. As such, these investors scrutinize and analyze a particular company first before deciding whether to invest in it or not. Having known this, the management boards of many companies are looking for various ways to lure these investors to invest with them. One of the ways of luring these investors is by winning their confidence. A company with a strong reputation is attractive to investors. They will want to invest in a company which they know has a strong social standing and its products are trusted by customers. A company with an unimpeachable reputation almost always translates into positive capital returns, an adorable thought by potential investors.
Challenges faced in executing CSR and instilling ethics in companies
Companies face quite a number of hurdles in trying to engage in CSR activities as well as instilling business ethics. Some of these challenges are as follows: constrained resources, whereby companies can barely afford to offer services to the community that are not reflected in the budget of the company. Others are the rigidity and reluctance of employees to adapt new business ethics.
Having weighed the pros and cons associated with CSR and business ethics, this research paper recommends the following; businesses and firms should strive to ensure that they engage in CSR activities as this will serve to uplift the images of their businesses. Businesses should also adopt the culture of professionalism in their workplace as this is appealing to both the customers as well as the potential investors. Companies should try to minimize activities that result into the creation of a bad image of the company and struggle to upgrade their reputations through CSR and improving business ethics.
As has been observed in the preceding discussion, the way a company reacts or behaves towards the society or target market is what determines its success. It has been observed that corporate social responsibility and business ethics play a particularly crucial role in the way customers respond to their products. CSR and business ethics uplift the reputation of a company and makes the clients have confidence in the products of that company. The fact that these customers gain confidence is highly crucial for revenue generation.