Corporate Social Responsibility in an Age of Negativity

Corporate Social Responsibility in an Age of Negativity

We live in an Age of Unprecedented Negativity. Everywhere around us, we see systems and institutions collapsing and degenerating. Further, the 24/7 Media keeps us fed on a nonstop and real-time basis barrage of negative news.

In this context, it is worth asking the question as to what can corporates do to better the situation as well as discharge their responsibilities towards society. Indeed, given the fact that much of this present situation is driven by unbridled profit-seeking and runaway capitalism, corporates must and should take the lead in addressing and redressing the situation.

Apart from this, fears over automation and the looming threat of joblessness keeps many employees in perpetual fear and hence, there is a role for corporates in this as well. Proposals such as Universal Basic Income and other aspects can remedy the situation, but only to a limited extent.

The real solutions would come when corporates and civil society work together to create a sustainable and equitable future for all irrespective of class, race, and gender. While all this sounds Utopian, it is indeed the case that unless corporates rise to the challenges and the situation, their very basis, and existence for survival would be threatened in this Race to the Bottom.

Corporates are Constrained by the Need to Make Profits

It is also the case that corporates are constrained by several forces such as the wider political and economic trends as well as societal forces. For instance, when economic conditions are gloomy dire, the natural instinct is to ensure survivability, and this is where most corporates prioritize their immediate needs before anything else.

This is also the reason why we are not seeing much action on addressing social and environmental problems by the corporates. Moreover, in times when the Media is quick to pounce on any small or big incident, it takes courage and determination from the corporates to stick their neck out and do something about the wider societal and economic aspects.

Further, given the fact that corporates work on the basis of responsibility to profit first and then to society, unless there is a systemic overhaul and systemic change, corporates by themselves would not be able to do much to address what essentially problems are caused by the larger forces.

Corporates are doing something and Some Real World Examples of This

However, it is also not the case that corporates are not doing anything and they are just interested in themselves and their profits. There are many VCs or Venture Capital firms that promote Green Projects and Socially beneficial initiatives by upcoming entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and China and India.

Moreover, Europe has taken the lead in this respect through governmental subsidies and incentives for entrepreneurs to setup socially conscious and environmentally friendly ventures. Indeed, in the developing world, both China and India as well are promoting such initiatives and providing support for entrepreneurs who wish to make a difference to society.

This can be seen in the way Social Entrepreneurship has taken off in a big way in many countries such as these wherein both small scale, and large-scale projects are being promoted.

Thus, there is some action by conscientious capitalists to address the problems of society and the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, NR Narayana Murthy, and Jack Ma all have taken the lead in providing funding and support through their Philanthropic Foundations to budding social entrepreneurs.

Indeed, given the fact that most big problems often have small causes, it is the case that micro initiatives at the ground level can make a difference and hence, this is the way to go as far the future is concerned.

Charity Begins at Home and Corporates Must Set Their Own House in Order

Which brings us to the point about how must corporates address such concerns internally and externally? To start with, they can ensure that they invest in Ecologically Friendly office spaces and create green energy initiatives by promoting waste recycling.

Also, they can ensure that they are Zero Carbon Emitters by installing filters and purifiers that reduce or even eliminate the Emissions. Another valuable lesson for many corporates is that often, they must set their own house in order before doing or saying anything and this is where they can make a real difference by an equitable distribution of pay and perks as well as being humane with their employees.

In the case where they have to downsize and fire employees, they must do so in a just manner by providing with adequate severance packages.

Moreover, as they say, Charity Begins at Home and hence, this is where they can make a real difference by ensuring that cases related to sexual and on the job discrimination on any basis are not only not tolerated but the perpetrators punished and others warned sternly.


Lastly, it is also the case that other stakeholders must help the corporates in their endeavors and this is where sustained interactions that go beyond dialogue and instead, focus on action are followed.

For instance, it is often the case that CSR is much talk and no action means that corporates must start “Walking the Talk” by following the Motto that Actions Speak Louder than Words.

This is where the last mile connectivity makes a real difference to the way in which real action and results on the ground can be actualized.

To conclude, these are the Best of Times and the Worst of Times, and hence, the challenge is to improve on the former and act and remedy on the latter.

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Corporate Social Responsibility