Social Responsibility Definition and Examples in Business

Social Responsibility Definition

From increasing productivity to attracting top talent, there are many benefits to adding social responsibility initiatives within an organization.

It also allows you to enhance your organization’s overall reputation, which can open doors to endless new opportunities. Choosing which initiatives are most appropriate for your organization requires careful consideration, as these efforts can be costly.

In this article, we discuss what social responsibility is, how social and ethical responsibility are closely related and the advantages and disadvantages of social responsibility. We also discuss examples of social responsibility that many companies choose to start with.


1 What is Social Responsibility?
2 Social Responsibility and Ethics
3 Benefits of Social Responsibility in Business
3.1 Giving the company a competitive advantage
3.2 Attract strong candidates and increase retention
3.3 Make your business attractive to investors
3.4 Improving business culture
3.5 Increase customer loyalty and advocacy
3.6 Improve company reputation
3.7 Increase profitability and value in business
4 Disadvantages of Social Responsibility in Business
4.1 Requires money to implement
4.2 Profitability impact
4.3 Greenwashing
5 Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility

What is Social Responsibility?

Social responsibility is an ethical framework within which individuals or companies are responsible for fulfilling their civic duties and taking actions that will benefit society as a whole.

If a company or person is considering taking an action that could harm the environment or society, then that action is considered socially irresponsible.

According to this concept, managers must make decisions that not only maximize profits but also protect the interests of the community and society as a whole.

Social Responsibility and Ethics

Ethics refers to a set of moral principles that govern the behavior of a company or person. Companies must incorporate ethics into their daily actions, especially decisions that affect other people or the environment.

Codes of social responsibility and ethical behavior must be applied within the organization as well as during interactions with others outside the company.

As long as the company upholds strong ethical standards and maintains social responsibility within the company, the environment and employees are considered equal with a focus on profitability.

However, if a company ignores its ethical standards and takes socially irresponsible actions, such as ignoring environmental regulations to increase profitability, government intervention is often necessary.

Advantages of Social Responsibility in Business

There are several advantages when companies choose to be socially responsible, such as:

Give the company a competitive advantage

Most customers today agree that social responsibility is the main criterion when choosing a company to shop or do business with. Being a socially responsible company is also a message you can use in your branding and marketing.

Attract strong candidates and increase retention

The success of your company is greatly influenced by the people who work for you. If you consistently provide a culture of social responsibility for your employees, and you have a reputation for doing so, you can attract and retain the best talent to your organization.

Make your business attractive to investors

Investors generally believe that a commitment to social change is a great way to position a company for long-term success. While there must be a balance between a focus on organizational profitability and social initiatives, doing so successfully can create the best opportunities for the company.

Improve business culture

Your employees are likely to be more motivated and have a greater commitment to the organization if they see social initiatives exist. Making time for employees to support their own social initiatives can also build pride, loyalty and motivation among your team members. This, in turn, makes everyone more engaged and productive.

Increase customer loyalty and advocacy

Consumers are attracted to companies that have a reputation as good corporate citizens. In addition, customer advocacy is the key to attracting new customers. When your loyal customers talk to people they know about your products and share positive reviews, they will drive more business towards you.

Improve company reputation

If your organization continues to participate in social initiatives, it gives the impression to customers, investors and the world as a whole that your organization is financially viable. This, in turn, can attract new investors and investors.

Increase profitability and value in business

In many cases, companies find that when they introduce more energy-efficient methods and start recycling, they actually cut operating costs and benefit the environment.

Social responsibility also increases transparency with investment analysts, shareholders and members of the public, which in turn enhances the company’s reputation and increases overall value.

Disadvantages of Social Responsibility in Business

While corporate social responsibility is generally beneficial for organizations, there are some drawbacks. Here are the main disadvantages to consider:

Need money to implement

While large organizations are able to allocate budgets for corporate social responsibility reporting, this can be a financial burden for smaller organizations.

While small companies can use social media to share social responsibility policies or initiatives with customers and community members, monitoring these channels takes time and resources.

This may require the company to hire additional employees to effectively manage the process, which can be a challenge for small businesses.

Profitability impact

Companies have fiduciary obligations to their shareholders and expensive social responsibility initiatives can have a direct impact on this.

These conflicts can be challenging for managers, who may feel they have to choose between socially responsible decisions or initiatives and focus on company profitability.


In some cases, social responsibility initiatives have been used as a way to improve the company’s image even though no real changes have been made. For this reason, it is important to consider what social responsibility initiatives you will be taking and evaluate their impact on the organization.

Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility

Here are some examples of corporate social responsibility initiatives that have been carried out by many companies around the world:

  • Charitable giving and voluntary efforts: The company gives employees time off to volunteer each year and also donates a portion of the income to charitable organizations.
  • Changes to company policy in an effort to improve or benefit the environment: The company holds tree planting events, minimizes paper waste, switches to energy-efficient lighting, prepares recycling bins, and allows remote work to reduce the negative impact of commuting traffic.
  • Improving labor policies and embracing fair trade: Brands strive to improve working conditions and employee well-being. They provide parents with significant paid time off, unlimited vacation time, more natural lighting, soft seating, and plants to boost energy and morale.

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