Counter Attack: CSR? Does it exist??

[This post is the Counter Attack post to: CSR?Does it work??]

In today’s world, coming to a consensus on any term is very difficult, especially when it is a topic like “Corporate social responsibility” – a very strong but hushed debate in the market. Various negative opinions have generated in this regard till date, and all of them say the same thing, “it is a publicity stunt”, but what we cannot deny is that it is also the “need of the hour”. The need is not only for the receiver, but also for the giver.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is an additional commitment an organization makes towards the development of the society. It is not an individual effort, but an effort made by a corporate entity, to pay back the society, for the support it provides towards the growth of the company. Various questions arise here. Some say that the company by starting its operations is already doing a lot for the community surrounding it. It is generating direct employment for the employees and indirect job opportunities for many more. Is that not enough? Why is there a need to do something extra? And even if somebody does something extra, why not keep it to himself? Why publicize it in the name of CSR? Well, it is a valid argument, but, not in the competitive environment of the 21stcentury.

When we look at the market scenario today, every profit making organization is surrounded by a flock of competitors, who are always looking for opportunities to kick you out. It is not limited to the survival of the fittest anymore. Lots of other factors count nowadays, an important one of them being the goodwill of the company. And what is better than CSR to create a strong goodwill value? The basic rule of business says “the customer is always right”, so when the customer is looking for a company, that along with offering quality products, also contributes towards the development of the society; is it a very intelligent decision to keep our CSR activities to ourselves, saying “no, we don’t want to publicize it, as then it will not be called CSR”? Rest aside, if we are not able to attract clients, then how are we going to fulfill our responsibility towards our employees? Will that not be “irresponsibility” towards the society?

Another question that have arisen in this regard is that why invest the shareholder’s money for CSR activities when we claim to not gain any profit from them? After all, the shareholders have invested their capitals for gaining profits. And by profits, we mean “financial” profits. Well, again I would say a very valid point. But can we deny the indirect benefits the company gets from the CSR activities? No, we can’t. As I have mentioned earlier, the CSR activities practiced by an organization plays a major role in building up the goodwill of the company, which in turn plays a major role in the success of the unit. So, we cannot say that CSR doesn’t generate any benefits, and therefore, we are clear in our conscience when using the shareholders’ money for this. But, the question of ethics remain. Why call it “CSR” when profits are being generated? Well, there is no definite answer for this, neither can there be. All I can say is that when a corporate house takes up an act of CSR just for the sake of it, and for publicity only, the truth does not remain buried for a long time. But, when an organization comes forward to such a task genuinely, the contribution shows; and if this organization benefits from this act in terms of credibility and goodwill, what’s the harm?

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