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Corporate Social Responsibility Evolves Triple Fold

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Corporate Social Responsibility Evolves Triple Fold

Social responsibility and business ethics are often regarding as the same concepts. However, the social responsibility movement is but one aspect of the overall discipline of business ethics. The social responsibility movement arose particularly during the 1960s with increased public consciousness about the role of business in helping to cultivate and maintain highly ethical practices in society and particularly in the natural environment.

Back in 1978, 198 companies, the majority of them with more than 10,000 employees and worldwide sales of more than $5 billion were asked by Milton Friedman the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility. Among the key findings:

* Two-thirds say corporate citizenship and sustainability issues are of growing importance for their businesses.

* despite this growth, a significant majority (59 percent) don't have an active strategy for developing new business opportunities that arise from meeting Corporate Social Responsibility needs.

* a solid majority (62 percent) have formal programs to manage their Corporate Social Responsibility practice. Another 35 percent without formal programs conduct regular reviews of these activities.

* most companies--71 percent--report publicly on Corporate Social Responsibility.

* Boards of directors are routinely engaged in corporate citizenship and sustainability activities at almost half of responding companies. Only 11 percent say there is no board review on these issues.

The progress was always slow compared to the scope and urgency of some of our planet's social and environmental ills.

So the debate continues unabated: What, exactly, is businesses' responsibility? To make profits? To "do well by doing good to people"? Shouldn't the planet be considered? A simple, universally accepted answer is unlikely. The good news is that in the nearly four decades since Milton Friedman elevated the question, the conversation has become robust. And there is clear support for the idea that companies can operate in a way that strengthens their various stakeholders and still provide solid, sustainable returns for their shareholders. Critics should never forget that corporations are in existence for profit

The phrase "the triple bottom line" was first coined in 1994 by John Elkington. His argument was that companies should be preparing three different (and quite separate) bottom lines. One is the traditional measure of corporate profit--the "bottom line" of the profit and loss account. The second is the bottom line of a company's "people account"--a measure in some shape or form of how socially responsible an organization has been throughout its operations. The third is the bottom line of the company's "planet"



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