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Our focus at EthicsWorld is on the multiple ways in which corporations shoulder their responsibilities to society. Our focus is international. Our interests range from the approaches of corporate managers to those of the activist not-for-profit organizations who strive to pressure corporations to do more in a very broad range of areas, from anti-corruption and protecting the environment, to respecting labor and human rights, from safeguarding the privacy of employees to acting ethically in the global marketplace. Our focus is also on the investment community that is increasingly screening socially responsible corporations and on governments that are assigning higher priority to ensuring that enterprises operate as good corporate citizens.

Corporate Social Responsibility - Why now?

Many companies have long histories of philanthropy.  That used to be the start and end of their perspective on corporate citizenship. Today, business charity remains important (and it is growing), but it is only one aspect of what has come to be known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). New communications technologies and globalization have given rise to a veritable explosion in non-governmental organizations that have a prime focus on one or more aspects of CSR (for an insight into the list of issues see Frank Vogl’s comment on the CSR Agenda).  These organizations are pressing governments and multilateral institutions (such as the United Nations and the World Bank) to require high CSR standards of corporations, while they are also pressing business directly to adopt voluntary approaches in many areas.  Investors have become highly sensitive to these public pressures and this is influencing the ways pension funds invest and giving rise to rapidly growing socially responsible investment funds. 

Globalization has created new pressures and new challenges for corporations in this area. For example, pharmaceutical companies are striving to find ways to maximize their returns on new drugs, while meeting pressures to enable the massive distribution of very low cost drugs in very poor countries. For example, as more and more companies become multinational, so they are grappling with ways to be sensitive to the cultures of the countries in which they operate, while holding firm to their core corporate codes of conduct. As the pressures mount on business, so the quality of corporate reporting in this area is rising fast, while the establishment of new standards is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The evolution of all these developments will impact the ways in which firms do business and much more – including the prospects for global warming, and the social and economic development of most nations.


 


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