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Corporate Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) or Corporate Responsibility (CR) as it has come to be known, is about how companies manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.  An increasing number of companies of all sizes are finding that there are real business benefits from acting in a socially responsible manner and CSR has become a core issue for many large organisations.  Partly as a reaction to this and partly as a driver, there now exists a significant number of support organisations to encourage and/or guide companies who are involved in the field of CSR.  These CSR-related organisations range from offering guidelines for environmental/sustainability reporting, to acting as think-tanks and forums for business leaders.  Each of the organisations has its own key CSR agenda to put forward.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines   ‘Corporate Social Responsibility as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”

The CSR debate has a long history, but fundamentally asks if businesses have responsibilities to society beyond the making of profits.  Companies are, of course, in business to make profits and it is unlikely, therefore, that a company would integrate sustainable practices and values if they are unable to see where the business advantages of doing so lie.  Such advantages are plentiful and include:

  • reduced cost of raw materials and energy;
  • improved image and reputation;
  • improved relationships with regulators, suppliers, and other stakeholders;
  • potential to exploit new market possibilities;
  • better retention, welfare and happiness of employees;
  • superior financial returns and less volatile share price due to reduced risk of litigation, etc. (King, 2002);
  • maximised capacity for growth by reducing environmental/social constraints (e.g. local community protestations).


The benefits of CSR activity will not be fully accrued, however, if such changes are not supported by a change in corporate culture

CATE has undertaken an extensive study with Manchester Airport into what Corporate Responsibility  means for an airport operator and how  a CR programme could be strategically introduced into such an organisation.