Social responsibility of enterprises companies

Social responsibility is the commitment of companies above and beyond their legal obligations. Companies operate in an ecological and social context and must keep in mind how they act in this context.

Social responsibility is the involvement of companies over and above legal obligations. These act in an ecological and social context, and must be aware of the result of their actions. © iStockPhoto

The assumption of social responsibility by companies has a long tradition in Germany and Europe. This has given rise not least to the image of the respectable businessman. During industrialisation, this image was replaced by business personalities for whom social commitment was also a matter of course.

Greater demand for formalisation

In recent decades however, this embodied social responsibility has changed. With increasing globalisation, international governmental and non-governmental organisations now also address this topic. This is shown by different international regulations and standards that have led to a strong formalisation and new forms of presentation of the social responsibility of companies.

One concept – many terms

In the course of this development, “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) has also become a commonly used term in German. Even if it has the same meaning in German translation as social responsibility of companies, it stands for a new and formalised form of the social responsibility of companies.

This is usually aimed at many different fields of action: respect for human rights, working conditions, environment, anti-corruption and -bribery, consumer interests, clean business practices and fair competition. Even the notion of sustainability has lost its original meaning and is used often interchangeably with CSR.

Diversity of companies calls for creativity and flexibility

Whether the environment, child labour or education are the focus of the social responsibility of a company depends on the size, the sector and the markets in which it operates. Regulation, standardisation and certification restrict the freedom of action of companies and prevents the development of optimum CSR approaches.

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