CSR is about firms voluntarily taking responsibility for the wider consequences of their actions. These consequences are not necessarily intended by the firm, or paid for by its customers, but manifest as side effects.
Responsible marketing is CSR applied to marketing practice: that is, firms taking on responsibility for the wider social and environmental impacts of their marketing strategies.
Ideally, companies should engage in CSR because it is the right thing to do – accepting they have moral obligations to wider stakeholders and society, and not just their shareholders. However, there are also strategic reasons why companies might wish to engage in CSR:
- Social responsibility is becoming more important to customers
- Embracing CSR can enhance reputation and brand image.
There are three main attitudes companies may display towards CSR:
- Doing the legal minimum in terms of compliance
- Realising CSR is important in terms of reputation, but not really committed
- Being genuinely committed to CSR and factoring it into all business decisions.
Carroll’s (1991) four-part model of CSR is an interesting one. Carroll argues that true social responsibility involves meeting all four layers of the model.
There is a diagram of the model on page 83 of the B324 Block 3 course book.