Introduction about Social Responsibility
Undesirable phenomena such as global warming and prevalent environmental degradation coupled with an increase in bizarre occurrences such as the mindless killing of innocent people have occasioned an important shift in the society. Traditionally, the society placed considerable emphasis on personal responsibility.
Today, social responsibility has become a buzzword all over the world. Families, institutions of learning, and organisations have increasingly devoted resources towards the teaching and development of social responsibility. Therefore, this essay seeks to investigate the reasons behind this shift by examining the concept of social responsibility.
Social responsibility is a complex concept that has proved difficult to define. The difficulty in defining it stems from the fact that it overlaps with several other concepts such as environmental responsibility, ethical behaviour, and accountability. Consequently, some authors find it easier to describe social responsibility instead of defining it.
Unfortunately, such descriptions often end up outlining the attributes of a socially responsible entity instead of giving the components of social responsibility. Nonetheless, for purposes of this essay, social responsibility refers to the principle of placing the interests of the society over the interests of an individual or any other single entity. Based on this definition, to be socially responsible refers to the ability to choose actions that yield positive societal implications.
Different Perspectives of Social Responsibility
This concept is approachable from several viewpoints. It is primarily concerned with the responsibility that individuals, organisations, and governments owe to the society. Consequently, social responsibility can be classified into individual social responsibility and corporate social responsibility.
This is one way of classifying this concept. The other way of looking at the concept is to categorise actions as either active (positive) or passive (negative). In this perspective, an entity can make a choice to get actively involved in actions that produce positive societal implications or simply choose to avoid actions that yield negative societal implications.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a concept that is relatively old, but whose popularity bloomed only recently. At the onset of this millennium, minimal attention was paid to the idea of corporate social responsibility. However, the situation has changed and it is currently the buzz of the modern corporate world.
In light of the definition of social responsibility, corporate social responsibility denotes social responsibility at the organisational level. In other words, it is the responsibility of an organisation to the society. Reportedly, due to increased public awareness, consumers across the world have become very selective and critical of the products they purchase. Consequently, organisations use corporate social responsibility as a way of seeking legitimacy in the eyes of their clients.
They achieve this feat through a number of initiatives, including friendly codes of conduct, improvement of occupational health and safety, improvement of their environmental management systems, opening their financial and social matters to the public and fostering community development initiatives among others. These initiatives all boil down to the improvement of the livelihood of the society. Therefore, the primary purpose of corporate social responsibility is to enhance the living standards of the society.
Individual Social Responsibility
Like corporate social responsibility, individual social responsibility is a concept that began to elicit the attention of scholars and researchers recently. In formal educational institutions for example, in America, the teaching of social responsibility has taken pre-eminence over personal responsibility. This change is a clear indicator that the importance of social responsibility is bound to increase in future.
With the definition of social responsibility in mind, individual social responsibility translates to the obligation of an individual to the society. As such, socially responsible people ought to act in ways that do not adversely affect members of the society they live in. Naturally, an individual would not be willing to engage in acts that harm their immediate family members or close friends except in rare cases.
Therefore, if the mindfulness of an individual incorporates the entire society, it is concluded that the individual is socially responsible. Some of the attributes that are associated with individual social responsibility include a caring attitude, a sense of control, open mindedness, and understanding the importance of one’s obligation to the society among others. Essentially, a socially responsible individual embodies all the desirable attributes that societies expect from their people.
Active and Passive Social Responsibility
Those who chose to engage in socially responsible actions can do so, not only at the individual or organisational levels, but also at the active or passive levels. As hinted earlier in the essay, active or positive social responsibility entails the choice to involve oneself in activities that promote the wellbeing of the society. Such activities include development initiatives, activism, campaigns and philanthropic acts.
Passive or negative social responsibility on the other hand, refers to the choice to avoid actions that adversely affect the wellbeing of the society. A choice to refrain from actions that cause environmental degradation is one example of passive social responsibility. According to literature, social responsibility is best achievable when both active and passive approaches are combined.
Social Responsibility in Canada
Canada, like other countries across the world, appreciates the importance of social responsibility. As such, many of its organisations have endeavoured to engage in corporate social responsibility initiatives. It is important to note that in matters of social responsibility, Canada often receives special attention.
The country is considered the world’s mining superpower as it is endowed with massive natural resources, which give it an impetus to invest heavily in the mining industry. This attribute implies that Canada is heavily involved in mining activities across the world. Therefore, the special attention that Canada receives on matters of social responsibility stems from the fact the mining industry is notorious for its adverse effects on the environment and the society in general.
Owing to the fact that social responsibility is considered an emergent concept, Canada does not have a comprehensive legal framework to guide social responsibility. Although the concept is roughly integrated into the Canadian law, most cases of corporate social responsibility in Canada are instigated by necessity.
The advent of globalisation has compelled Canadian organisations to engage in social responsibility initiatives because it is one of the practical methods of appealing to clients worldwide. Therefore, in comparison to other countries such as its immediate neighbour the U.S., Canada is obviously lagging behind in its social responsibility programs. Nonetheless, organisations in Canada are increasingly showing interest in social responsibility initiatives.
In conclusion, the proliferation of literature on social responsibility, followed by its massive adoption by organisations is a clear indicator that there are benefits that come with the concept. Since it was noted that organisations use it to seek legitimacy in the sight of consumers, it can be inferred that the mass adoption of the concept by organisations is because of its success. The society also benefits from enhanced living standards and a reduction in heinous acts. Consequently, social responsibility is a concept that is worth espousing.