Ethics and social responsibility are the two sides of the same coin. They are topical and therefore, should be and are of great interest to entrepreneurs, corporate entities and society. Entrepreneurs and managers and their organisation must be aware of the expectation to be socially responsible and to put in place appropriate guidelines for instilling acceptable ethical standards and behaviours in their various organisations. Not doing so would be their peril.
It has to be emphasised that the disposition to ethical behaviours and being socially responsible have a number of benefits. These include:
– they lead to effective corporate management;
– tend to give good corporate image:
– and above all, are beneficial to society and humanity.
Since ethics investigates the impact of moral issues and choices, be it positively or negatively valued, it then means that how an individual or business venture reacts to particular situations is of utmost concern. It is therefore imperative that for appropriate ethical decision to be made, the obligations of the venture both within and outside the organisation in which it showcases its commitment to business operations and its daily operations on an ethical basis is a sine qua non.
As business ventures are inherent part of social systems, they thus have an obligation to become more socially and environmentally responsible and contribute to sustainable development. The ability of the business organisation to act responsibly towards its internal and external customers and supplies is what is termed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
CSR therefore involves the protection, preservation and restoration of the natural environment, the ethical dealing of employees and consumers, and the benefit of the society.
Corporate Social Responsibility has been identified to include “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law” (McWilliams and Siegel, 2001).
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has defined CSR as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life in the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large (WBCSD, 1999).
With the growing awareness of ethical practices in organisations and the increasing knowledge of the obligations of the business enterprise in terms of achieving social and environmental objectives, it has become imperative that businesses adjust their unethical practices to reduce and fully eliminate their undesirable influence on the environment and the wider society.
It has been widely acknowledged that with the awareness growing regarding the social and environmental consequences of business activity, stakeholders such as governments, NGOs, customers and the public are demanding businesses to voluntarily implement responsible business practices (De Grosbois, 2012). This implies therefore that a responsible business venture would undertake its activities taking into consideration the valuation of customers, employees, shareholders, competitors, government, and the societal values, by which they generate novel prospects and advance competitive advantage.
Therefore, a socially responsible business organisation abides by the principles of the provision of a safe and healthy work environment; adoption of a fair employer-employee relational policies; donation to and protection of environmental/community projects: the prevention of price discrimination, fair play with competitors and honesty in publicising.
CSR promotes appropriate conduct and policies within the context of commercial enterprise, both internally and externally.