SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Definition, Types, Examples, and Importance


According to The Sprout Social IndexTM 2022, company alignment with personal values is 74% more important to consumers today than it was in 2021. If your corporate social responsibility practices are lacking, it affects more than just the general public. It can also affect your bottom line. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an accountability model used by businesses to incorporate social and environmental causes into their operations. Depending on the cause, this can mean anything from corporate sponsorships to volunteer days to awareness campaigns. This article will discuss what social responsibility in business is, its types, importance, and examples in corporations, as well as the types of social responsibility in society. So let’s get this party started!

What is Social Responsibility?

Sustainability can be achieved through social responsibility. Adopting important social responsibility principles, like accountability and transparency, can help any organization or system be successful and last for a long time.

Social Responsibility in Business

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as social responsibility in business, refers to individuals and organizations that conduct business ethically and with consideration for social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues. Trying to be socially responsible helps people, organizations, and governments have a positive effect on business, development, and society as a whole.

Making wise business decisions requires more than just balancing the books in the short term. Wise decision-makers consider the future effects of today’s choices on people, the community, and customers’ opinions.

While business results, investment, free enterprise, and other traditional economic forces continue to drive industry, organizations’ reputations and abilities to compete effectively around the world rely on incorporating social responsibility efforts into decision-making and performance improvement.

Understanding Social Responsibility in Business

To be socially responsible, people and businesses need to act in the best interest of their environment and society as a whole. As it relates to business, social responsibility is known as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and is becoming a more prominent area of focus within corporations due to shifting social norms.

The main idea behind this theory is to create policies that strike a moral balance between the two goals of making money and helping society as a whole. These policies can be either commission (philanthropy: donations of money, time, or resources) or omission (e.g., “go green” initiatives such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or adhering to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to limit pollution).

Many businesses, including those with “green” policies, have integrated social responsibility into their business models without compromising profitability.

Additionally, more investors and consumers are factoring in a company’s commitment to socially responsible practices before making an investment or purchase. As a result, embracing social responsibility can help the primary directive, which is to maximize shareholder value.

There is a moral imperative as well. Actions—or the lack thereof—will affect future generations. Simply put, social responsibility is a good business practice, and failing to do so can hurt the balance sheet. It can also increase company morale, especially when employees are involved in the company’s social causes.

Social Responsibility Examples

It’s no accident that some of today’s most successful businesses are also among the most socially responsible. Here are five successful examples of corporate social responsibility that you can use to drive social change within your organization.

#1. Lego’s Commitment to Sustainability

As one of the most reputable companies in the world, Lego aims to not only help children develop through creative play, but also to foster a healthy planet.

Lego is the first and only toy company to be named a World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers Partner, indicating its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint. And its commitment to sustainability extends beyond its partnerships.

#2. Salesforce’s 1-1-1 Philanthropic Model

Salesforce, a cloud-based software giant, is a trailblazer in the field of corporate philanthropy in addition to being a leader in the technology industry. Since its inception, the company has promoted its 1-1-1 philanthropic model, which entails donating 1% of the product, 1% of equity, and 1% of employees’ time to communities and the nonprofit sector.

#3. Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission

Positively impacting society is as important to Ben & Jerry’s as producing premium ice cream. In 2012, the company became a certified B Corporation, a business that balances purpose and profit by meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

#4. Levi Strauss’ Social Impact

In addition to being one of the most successful fashion brands in history, Levi’s was also among the first to advocate for a more ethical and sustainable supply chain. In 1991, the brand established its global code of conduct regarding its supply chain and set standards for workers’ rights, a safe work environment, and an environmentally friendly production process.

#5. Starbucks’s Commitment to Ethical Sourcing

Starbucks’ first corporate social responsibility report came out in 2002. The company wanted to be known for more than just its products, so it put out the report. One way the brand has achieved this goal is through ethical sourcing.

What Are the Types of Social Responsibility?

Environmental, philanthropic, ethical, and economic responsibility are the four types of corporate social responsibility.

#1. Environmental Responsibility

Environmental responsibility refers to the belief that organizations should behave in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. One of the most prevalent types of corporate social responsibility is this one. Such initiatives are referred to as “environmental stewardship” by some businesses.

#2. Ethical Responsibility

Ethical responsibility is concerned with ensuring that an organization operates fairly and ethically. Organizations that embrace ethical responsibility strive to practice ethical behavior by treating all stakeholders fairly, including leadership, investors, employees, suppliers, and customers.

#3. Philanthropic Responsibility

Philanthropic responsibility refers to a business’s desire to actively improve the world and society. In addition to acting as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible, organizations driven by philanthropic responsibility often dedicate a portion of their earnings. While many businesses donate to charities and nonprofits that align with their guiding missions, others donate to deserving causes that have nothing to do with their business.

#4. Economic Responsibility

Economic responsibility is the practice of a firm backing all of its financial decisions in its commitment to do good in the areas listed above. The ultimate goal is not simply to maximize profits but to ensure that business operations have a positive impact on the environment, people, and society.

Importance of Social Responsibility in Society

Most businesses are motivated to embrace corporate social responsibility because of moral convictions, and doing so can result in several benefits and the importance of social change in society.

  • We must keep a clean and safe environment.
  • In general, people live in a social environment; therefore, it is their responsibility to contribute to its growth and welfare. It aids in achieving a balance between economic growth and social welfare.
  • It keeps a check on a company’s business activities, ensuring they do not support an entirely capitalistic mindset.
  • By incorporating CSR, companies reap the benefits like creating goodwill, enhancing brand value, reducing the cost of operation, etc.
  • It is crucial to establish an emotional connection and sentimental bonding with people to increase the customer base. A company can also use social responsibility in marketing, advertising, and promotion. Consumers trust companies and buy products from socially responsible companies, so companies are indirectly promoted while working towards a social cause.
  • Companies with a good reputation attract employees. CSR events include volunteering programs to promote qualities such as loyalty and empathy. Employee bonding and coordination improve as a result. Overall, this leads to employee retention and engagement.
  • CSR alleviates poverty in a variety of ways, including increasing compensation, ensuring economic stability, and creating more jobs for the unemployed.

Building a Socially Responsible Business

While startups and small companies don’t have the deep financial pockets that enterprises have, their efforts can have a significant impact, especially in their local communities. “Even 5%, which may not seem like much, can add up to make a difference,” Schmidt said. “When considering ways to donate and give back, start locally and work your way up.”

Include your employees in the decision-making process when identifying and launching a CSR initiative. Create an internal team to spearhead the efforts and identify organizations or causes related to your business or that employees feel strongly about. You’ll increase engagement and success when you contribute to something that matters to your employees. Involving your employees in decision-making can also provide your team with clarity and assurance.

What to Avoid When Creating a Socially Responsible Business Model

Becoming a socially responsible business can be simple, but there are a few caveats.

#1. Do not select unrelated initiatives.

Participate in charitable efforts that are unrelated to your core business focus or that in any way violate your company’s ethical standards. Instead of blindly sending money to a completely unrelated organization, find a nonprofit that your company believes in or invest in a project in your community.

#2. Do not use CSR as a marketing strategy.

Don’t use CSR opportunities solely for marketing purposes. Schmidt said running a corporate responsibility campaign as a quick marketing scheme can backfire if your business does not follow through. Rather than attempting a one-time stunt, adopt socially responsible business practices over time. Employees and customers, according to Schmidt, respond favorably to businesses that embrace long-term social responsibility.

#3. Don’t wait for the industry to catch up.

If you are considering sustainable activities that aren’t legally required yet, don’t wait. Adopting socially responsible norms early on establishes the standard for your industry and refines your process.

Taking on CSR initiatives benefits everyone involved. Your actions will not only appeal to socially conscious consumers and employees, but they will also make a genuine difference in the world.

Best Practices for CSR

As the practice of social responsibility by corporations has become more widespread, some best practices have been recognized.

When socially responsible practices are incorporated or integrated into a company’s core business operations, they are easier to implement, maintain, and garner a better public response. For example, a food company will have greater success donating excess food to local food banks or homeless shelters than simply making monetary donations to various charities.

Many businesses have done well by implementing socially responsible practices before the requirement of laws or regulations. Companies, for example, may go above and beyond what is required by law to clean up wastewater from their manufacturing facilities.

Criticisms of Corporate Social Responsibility

The spread of corporate social responsibility is not without critics and detractors. There are many reasons to criticize the corporate social responsibility movement.

The first is that many corporations focusing on social responsibility, become distracted from their primary focus – generating profits for shareholders. Critics often argue that pursuing socially responsible practices is making the overall economy less efficient.

Other critics question the sincerity of some corporate social responsibility initiatives, dismissing them as mere public relations stunts with little beneficial impact on society. This is a common criticism leveled at businesses that make a “one-time” charitable contribution rather than integrating socially responsible operations.

What are the 3 elements of social responsibility?

Market activities, mandated activities, and voluntary activities are the three main components of social responsibility.

What is another word for social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

What are the tools of social responsibility?

Tools for CSR

  • Reliable means of Communication.
  • Trained and educated both men and women.
  • Public meetings.
  • Social Audit.


While minimizing negative effects on them, social responsibility is important to society and the environment. Companies engaging in social responsibility can do so in several ways, including making changes that benefit the environment, engaging in ethical labor practices, and promoting volunteering, and philanthropy. Consumers are increasingly looking to do business with socially responsible companies, which can benefit bottom lines.


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