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The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to have largely intertwined in the business environment within the past decades. Whereas, some time ago, the idea of ethical conduct and responsible performance used to be treated seriously by large corporations only, today, these aspects have become an essential strategy’s part of any organization. According to some specialists, the intention to receive the status of an ethically grounded company might be connected with the development of social media and the Internet, which has made the details of any corporate activity much more transparent and accessible to the public (Popa and Salanță 139). Thus, more and more companies consider CSR to be a useful tool for both creating a respectable image and improving their competitive ability.
The Role of Stakeholder Management
Meanwhile, although the majority of stakeholders formally claim that CRS is one of their primary concerns, the experience shows that little effort is done to achieve some significant results in practice. Numerous researchers state that most of the ethically-related efforts are still focused on various types of charity, while the following activity initially implies a broad range of directions, including the environment care, the human rights’ preservation, and honest cooperation, to name but a few (Popa and Salanță 141).
Therefore, managers often tend to make a common mistake – they put a particular focus on the needs of one stakeholder group, neglecting those of the others. One should necessarily point out that considering all the stakeholders’ interests plays a key role in the formation of a profound ethical policy. Hence, globally speaking, one should act equally responsible towards suppliers, customers, society, staff and all the other participants of the collaboration process in order to become truly socially responsible.
Whereas the necessity of developing an effective CRS policy seems to be undoubted, the means of accomplishing this task are widely debated. Thus, one of the key challenges in the relevant field is finding a solution that will help to involve all the employees in the process. In other words, the principles of CRS must be strictly followed not only by the top management’s department but by all the staff. At first sight, one might assume that the easiest way to cope with the problem for a company is to introduce some official Code of Ethics or another document of a similar character.
However, one should be prepared for the fact that the efficiency of this tool will not be necessarily high. Thus, Popa and Salanță suggest that such measures are rather favorable, though ultimately insufficient. According to the researchers, one of the most effective methods to provide employees’ social responsibility is to charge them with the tasks that initially exclude any possibility of making an unethical decision (Popa and Salanță 141).
The Role of Ethics Officer in the Organization
The success of a particular ethical policy largely depends on the way one manages to monitor its pursuit. Hence, it is significant that all the employees are ethically grounded while facing the most ambiguous situations. Due to the development of modern informational technologies, one has a lot of opportunities to audit the staff’s performance and remain aware of the most critical problems in a particular department.
The simplest way to check whether subordinates stick to the fundamental ethical principles is to turn the Internet source into a feedback tool. Enabling the customers to share their opinion on the staff’s performance will not only assist in defining the key drawbacks of the workforce’s approach but will also become a powerful motivation for the subordinates to conduct themselves in a professional and businesslike manner.
The assumption that social media and the Internet represent highly effective tools for the improvement of ethical sustainability in a company is widely shared by different analysts. Thus, Popa and Salanță introduce an example of the Public Eye Awards, the ceremony that is aimed at pointing out the companies with both the best and the worst CSR performance. The specialists believe that such social recognition plays an important role in encouraging an organization to devote more attention to their ethical strategies (Popa and Salanță 142).
Popa and Salanță state that general business culture is the determining factor of the CSR policy’s efficiency (141). The problem is that the responsibility of developing this culture is often assigned to the managers that are too busy to treat this matter properly. In this case, one of the possible solutions is the employment of the Ethics Officer, who will be in charge of handling all the ethical problems within the organization. The principal responsibilities of such an officer are to make sure that the ethical policy is properly installed and that the employees orderly adhere to its principles. Theoretically, the following specialist is to become the provider of the highest ethical culture as well as to represent an intermediary between the corporate interests and those of the external stakeholders.
Nevertheless, one should note that the tasks assigned to the Ethics Officer are rather problematic to be accomplished in practice. The major difficulty is that the relevant specialist depends largely on the general ethical policy that the shareholders pursue; thus, if the top management of a company tends to neglect the base principles of ethics and is likely to practice fraud, tax avoidance or environmental pollution, the Ethics Officer has few opportunities to improve the situation considerably.
Therefore, the effectiveness of the Ethics Officer as a warrantor of CRS standards maintenance is rather questionable. Some specialists tend to believe that naming the Ethics Officer is an ultimately formal measure that is insufficient for providing a truly efficient ethical strategy (Popa and Salanță 141).
In conclusion, one should point out that the concept of CSR is a complex notion that consists of numerous minor aspects. Thus, the presence of particular operational efforts related to organizational ethics does not necessarily imply the fact that the relevant company is socially responsible. In restrained terms, a company’s efforts aimed at maintaining ethical sustainability might be determined by the willingness to hide some irresponsible actions. In such cases, the relevant efforts lack a true ethical implication and, thus, have no direct connection with the CSR concept.
There are also instances where organizational ethics does not coincide with the general principals of CSR. Hence, for example, a company might conduct a highly responsible ethical policy within its workforce and, at the same time, show careless behavior towards the environment or the society. In the meantime, other companies might, on the contrary, lack the formal Ethic Codes but show the performance that respects the interest of all the stakeholders. On the whole, CSR concepts might serve as a fundamental base that a company should rely on while working out its organizational ethics policy.
Popa, Mirela and Irina Salanță. “Corporate Social Responsibility versus Corporate Social Irresponsibility.” Management & Marketing 9.2 (2014): 135-144. Print.