Corporate Responsibility describes
the Businesses’ efforts to improve their local and global communities. Corporate Responsibility commonly known
as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consists of the policies, practices
and initiatives that a company adheres to in order to be honest and transparent
with a positive impact on society and the environment. These policies should be
an inseparable component of the service or the product that the company is
offering and these are aimed to ensure that companies stay
ethical.

There are several categories that
businesses focus on in Corporate Responsibility – environmental responsibility,
philanthropic initiatives, ethical practices and legal and economic
responsibilities are some of them. In today’s modern economy global warming and
environmental issues are of interests to the public. Companies should have
business models that are considerate of their responsibility to the
environment. Most companies who practice Corporate Responsibility has adopted
measures like energy conservation, minimize waste and increase recycling,
control release of chemicals, conserve water that minimizes its impact to the
public and the environment. Businesses who take steps to reduce pollution to
the environment also benefit as good corporate citizens while contributing to
the society. Philanthropic initiatives comprise of donating money, time and
resources to charities and local communities. These donations could be used to
aid in health initiatives or assist educational institutions with providing
grants or scholarships. Many companies pledge a certain amount of their yearly
earnings to charitable causes or partner with non-profit organizations.
Volunteering is another way of doing good deeds that shows concern for specific
issues and support for those organizations. Studies have shown that volunteering
enhances employee engagement and strengthens relationship among colleagues and
increases employee retention which in turn improves efficiency. Ethical
practices are also key to any organization as this provides fair labor
practices for the employees and the employees of vendors/suppliers that they
conduct business with. This is key for businesses that operate in international
locations that has different labor laws. Legal Responsibilities require
organizations to comply with the laws regulated by the Federal, State and local
governments under which the business should operate. This also requires the
businesses to provide goods and services that meet the legal requirements. Economic
responsibility focuses on the growth of the business to maximize profitability
and to contribute to the economy. Without producing profitable products and
maintain sustainability a business cannot contribute to the social
responsibilities.  Organizations that are
genuinely committed to CSR have a higher level of employee engagement and
better customer service.

Stakeholders are the people who are
interested in the organization and this includes its employees, customers,
suppliers, shareholders, board of directors, political groups, media,
government agencies etc. All stakeholders of a business are interested in the
values and the mission of the company and those organizations that practice Social
Responsibility attract most Stakeholders. Employees want to work for companies
that care about people, planet and also revenue. Consumers and suppliers are
also interested in businesses that give back to the society. The new generation
of buyers demand transparency and always choose a product or brand that is
socially conscious. Investors are more likely to support companies that is not
only committed to its employees but also donates money and encourages employee
volunteering as this shows that the company is not just interested in the profits
but they are contributing to their local and global community. Media and
political groups are also drawn to the organizations that are socially
responsible. Stakeholder engagement is essential to businesses as they can
build relationships with stakeholders to understand their perspective and
interests and include that in the company’s corporate strategy. Stakeholders
could help companies in making informed decisions, avoiding risks and also expanding
the business and brand reputation. Stakeholders are also quite interested in
CSR issues when making decisions about investing in companies. Most companies
provide CSR reports to its stakeholders which is a tool for communicating its
success and challenges on all of their socially responsible issues.

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The goal of socially responsible
organizations is to conduct business ethically by focusing on their social,
economic and environmental impact and human rights. These organizations are
responsible for their effects on the environment and society based on their CSR
initiatives. Research has shown that organizations that act socially
responsible experience high levels of performance. Despite the positivity and
optimism associated with CSR, companies do not always adhere to it. In fact,
many companies have adopted CSR as a marketing gimmick. A strong commitment to
corporate responsibility programs can enhance the company’s brand and can help
create a positive environment for its employees and its consumers.

Florian Nehm, head of corporate
sustainability and EU affairs at Axel Springer came across some articles about
the devastating circumstances under which some minerals important for the
production of electronic reading devices like smartphones and tablets were
excavated in Eastern Congo. Silence and inactivity were not options for Florian
Nehm as he was concerned about the future of Axel Springer. Even though Axel
springer did not produce or purchase the electronic devices, the producers of the
electronic devices were using contested resources. Axel Springer needed
authentic digital devices on which paid content would be offered. This meant
that Axel Springer’s products could also be potentially stigmatized which would
negatively affect their digital expansion.

Axel springer had faced a similar
situation before the digital era when they were in the printing business. Back
then they took immediate measures to ensure a sustainable source of paper. Since
they were a direct and major buyer of paper they could influence their
suppliers and had some power over them. But in this situation Axel Springer did
not directly deal with the sources of the electronic devices. There are other
factors like the boundaries of the company’s social obligation and the actions
that they should take to clean up this issue caused by others.  Florian was well aware of the dangers of
digital media as they used significant amounts of energy and produced large
amounts of emissions. Disposing e-waste was also a major issue as the materials
used in the devices carried a high risk of contamination of the environment. Among
all these issues, the actual sourcing of the minerals needed for the production
of these devices was the major problem.

One of the core corporate value at
Axel Springer is Integrity, and this is reflected in their commitment to social
and environmental responsibility. Axel springer is known as green and ethical
company and their digital business is dependent on conflict minerals. The
company is also concerned about journalistic credibility. Based on all these
factors, I believe Florian Nehm should not wait till this became a major issue
and should present the situation to the CEO, Mathias Döpfner. Together they
could come up with a course of action to tackle this situation. Even though
there are ongoing initiatives to stop the flow of conflict minerals from
Eastern Congo, those efforts are mostly dominated by political and commercial
parties who had more interest in the mineral trade rather than the wellbeing of
people and the planet. Axel Springer being in the investigative media business
could create more awareness among the public thru their use of media. They
could also work with their stakeholders, which includes Board of Directors,
Shareholders and Government agencies to put in place more controls and audits
for international trade. Axel springer could require its suppliers who are also
Stakeholders, to disclose the source of the minerals used in their products and,
if they were sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo provide a report of
the measures that were taken to exercise due diligence on the conflict minerals
source and procurement. 

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