Social responsibility refers to the ethical theory that a business entity, whether governmental or individual, is responsible to society. The responsibility of an organization can be positive or negative. Positive responsibility means that the organization is under obligation to act while negative means that the organization has the responsibility to refrain from taking certain actions. Social responsibility applies not only to the organizations and government corporations, but it also applies to the local communities and other activist groups. This paper examines the various components and strategies of implementing social responsibility within an organization and how their interaction can bring about change in society.
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Variations exist in the way different business entities meet social responsibility and it is important to underscore that different entity have different claimed social responsibilities. As much as the governments encourage their citizens to be law-abiding, business entities aim at respecting their employee’s human rights. Non-governmental organizations aim at giving back to the community by coming up with various improvements in society’s welfare.
They do this by taking part in the roles of society. There is a need for social responsibility because the world today is characterized by problems such as poverty, global warming, pollution, and many others. These problems affect the economic activities in all the parts of the world. Due to these problems, the business community must assist in finding solutions to the problems and this is only through exercising social responsibility.
In the business environment, an individual’s conduct is determined by the norms of the society in which the business entity is located. (Cutlip, Center and Broom,2006)
The best examples of norms include moral and legal norms in which an overlap exists between the two sets. Acts within a business environment should be both legal and morally acceptable in society. Therefore a business entity has both legal and moral obligations to fulfill to the community. Moral responsibility concerns that can lead to improvement of quality of life and affect the organization for which one works. n. This constitutes professional ethics.
Looked at from a sociological point of view, professionalism is the same as any other form of occupational behavior. Professional behavior is oriented to the interest of the community. The community is the one that benefits as a result of professional behavior and social responsibility. Rewards of social responsibility come in terms of prestige rather than in terms of money. (Habisch,2001)
Social responsibility has several components which are both ethical and philanthropic. First of all, in terms of ethics, a business entity is supposed to have a performance that meets the ethical and philanthropic expectations of society. Secondly, it is vital for an organization to quickly adapt to the new and evolving norms of society. This should also be consistent with assisting the fine and performing arts in society. In the course of achieving corporate goals, firms should not compromise society’s norms. Social responsibility can easily be achieved if the managers and the employees of the organization engage in charitable activities organized within the society.
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This can be in terms of food donations, environmental conservation matters, or civic education. The definition of a good citizen is defined in terms of doing what is morally or ethically acceptable within the society.
The local educational institutions are major assets of the societies. Facilitating or taking part in creation or improvement is part of the social responsibility activities. Social responsibility thus goes beyond doing what is within the law for a business entity. It means that integrity and ethical behavior are intertwined. The community should benefit because social responsibility leads to improvement in the quality of life for the period worked and profits gained. This means that those projects that can lead to improvement of life must be assisted and supported to have a greater impact. (Wilcox, Ault, Agee, and Cameron, 2003)
Social responsibility also has both economic and legal components that a business entity, whether group or individual, must strive to fulfill to have an impact on society. The first issue regards per-share earnings. The entity must ensure that the maximization of per-share earnings is increased. It is also important that the business conducts its operations in a manner that is consistent with the government and law expectations. Good social responsibility means that the organization is undertaking all its operations following the federal, state, or local authority regulations and other acts of impunity. In terms of competition, a successful business entity must struggle and maintain a high competitive edge with others within the same bracket.
A business that is committed to social responsibility must always work towards maintaining a high level of efficiency within the system. For instance, if the company is a delivery service then efficiency in these services should be first-class. The legal obligations must be fulfilled if an organization is accountable to society. This helps in checking if the business submits returns to the revenue collection and if not, what could be the course of this major problem.
Organizations must be consistent in profit-making for them to restore confidence in the community. If an organization is not consistent in its profits, then the people will lose confidence. Once the confidence is lost, then it will not be meeting the social responsibility and therefore it can help the community when the need arises like during natural disasters.
The products of the business entity also determine to what extent the organization will fulfill the social responsibility. It is vital that the goods and services produced to meet the minimum legal requirement. This will also help in setting confidence in the youths and the majority of the people. This makes people confident within the organization and can build trust with their employees. To achieve social responsibility, audience targeting which is a fundamental strategy in public relations is quite essential.
While employing this strategy, it is vital to tailor every message for the target audience. For instance, if the message is targeting a certain market segment proper research must be done on what that particular segment likes or prefers. Otherwise, the message does not reach the desired audience. After the message has reached the target audience, it becomes easy to facilitate the integration of the community within the implementation of social responsibility in an organization.
Good social responsibility is also achieved through community participation. Without endorsement from the community on matters concerning them the social responsibility will not be fulfilled as required by the particular business entity. In public relations and social responsibility, the audience is normally fluid. For instance, an organization can decide to choose any group which is within its reach and this will facilitate the achievement of the stated objectives in terms of giving back to society. To add to the issue of audience it is important to point out that in targeting the audience, the stakeholders be involved. All the audiences are stakeholders in any social responsibility project.
Not all the stakeholders involved in this process are the audience. Therefore any undertaking by a business entity aiming at achieving social responsibility must be responsive to the needs of various stakeholders. The needs can be in terms of basic social amenities like water or energy, calamities such as diseases. Organizations initiate campaigns that can be aiming at creating awareness or raising funds to assist in finding solutions to problems in society. In this case, the patients suffering from the disease were the stakeholders in the project. But on the other hand, the audience referred to any well-wisher who was willing to chip into the kitty to help others overcome the diseases. ( Ledingham, John and Stephen,2001)
Another example happened when an organization came up with an athletics event to raise funds for children living with heart diseases. This was a good initiative that was welcomed by the community members. Another public relations tool for implementing effective social responsibility is the press release. The organization carrying out social responsibility comes up with a statement that is distributed by the various media agents to reach the community.
The main purpose of the press statement is to carry out measurements of certain parameters which are essential for social responsibility. For instance, it can be used to measure the worthiness of the news items. How the item is presented is of much importance as the item itself. (Holtz,1999)
The use of lobby groups in the implementation of social responsibility cannot also be overlooked. This kind of group can be placed on the front aiming at influencing public opinion. Once a public opinion has been captured the society would get into the process easily hence there will be reduced obstacles towards achieving the targets in the project. The successful organization has employed tactics that campaign to push for certain agendas.
A good example is when an organization uses different people to write letters to different newspaper editors expressing the same opinion. This in the end creates a public opinion that can facilitate the implementation of social responsibility projects. Finally, it is important to pinpoint that successful business entity committed to social responsibility must work towards addressing all the components of social responsibility. Firstly, in terms of profitability, the organization must endeavor to maximize
the profits so that their stakeholders and owners are satisfied. Secondly, the organization would have to look critically into the affairs of those who affect the achievement of social responsibility. This includes employees, customers, distributors, and suppliers. The third concern is about the society whereby the organization must conserve the environment and the general public from where it is located or area of operation. (Heath,2001)
In the past business, entities have responded to this concern using strategies such as green marketing and course-related marketing. By addressing all the mention issues social responsibility becomes habitual and a very simple affair for an organization to achieve as the society appreciates the presence of that organization.
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