This paper is based on the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It explores the topic through an analysis of a company selected from the database of the world’s most ethical companies. One of the issues which are discussed is how the company behaves in a socially responsible manner towards its consumers, employees, and the environment.
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The company under focus in this paper is the National Australia Bank (NAB). In 2014, the bank had over 1600 banking centers across the globe. The bank’s main services include consumer, wholesale, and business banking, insurance services, and wealth management. The consumers of the bank include individual bankers, private and public institutions, businesses, and community groups. According to the bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Clyne Cameron, the bank’s main objective is to meet the needs of the customers at all times.
The domains of CSR
Different scholars have written about the concept of CSR. According to Carroll, CSR is generally used to explain the relationship between businesses and their environments. The reason is that almost all businesses operate in dynamic social, political, economic, and natural environments. CSR, therefore, looks at how businesses interact with these environments, either positively or negatively. Different scholars have come up with different components of CSR. However, the components which are mentioned by many scholars include ethical, regulatory, philanthropic, and legal components.
When a company establishes a business in any society, the people in that society usually have different expectations from the company. While some expect to purchase goods and services at low prices, others expect to be employed by the company. There are also those who expect the company to operate in a manner that does not raise questions as far as the quality of products and services is concerned. These expectations comprise the ethical component of CSR.
The regulatory component of CSR has to do with abiding by all regulations which are established to protect shareholders, investors, and customers from unethical business practices. It also has to do with ensuring that organizations maximize their profits and minimize their operational costs. When organizations maximize their profits, they are supposed to increase the salary of their employees.
The legal component of CSR has to do with compliance with various laws and regulations which are established in different jurisdictions to govern all businesses. For example, in many jurisdictions, there are laws and regulations which touch on the protection of the environment, respect of employees’ rights, and production of quality products. The philanthropic component of CSR has to do with the involvement of organizations in charity work. This component is based on the argument that businesses must give back to the communities where they operate. There are many ways of giving back to the communities. One of them is the initiation of programs that directly benefit the communities. A good example is the provision of health and education services to the less fortunate in the communities.
Addressing the issue of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
The bank uses various techniques to implement its CSR programs. Examples of the techniques include stakeholder engagement, excellent corporate governance, impact measurement, creating value for the customers, and conservation of the environment. In regard to stakeholder engagement, the bank ensures that all stakeholders are consulted on various issues which touch on policies, procedures, and investment decisions. In regard to corporate governance, the bank has established a framework which it uses as a guideline for its internal governance. The framework outlines the structure of the bank, the number of years in which the leaders can hold certain positions, and ways of safeguarding the interests of the shareholders.
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In regard to impact measurement, the bank undertakes regular audits of its CSR programs to establish the extent to which they are effective. It uses the results of the audits to improve its CSR programs with the overall objective of protecting the rights of all stakeholders. In regard to creating value for the customers, the bank undertakes regular market research to understand the needs of the customers and what can be done to increase their satisfaction with its products and services.
In regard to the environment, the bank has established very clear guidelines in the form of a policy that outlines its relationship to the environment. The bank behaves in a socially responsible manner towards the environment through compliance with all laws and regulations which are put in place to protect the environment. For instance, it has a policy that ensures that its operations do not negatively affect the environment, either directly or indirectly. This policy is an indication of a socially responsible behavior because the pollution of the environment negatively affects the health of the consumers. However, having a clean environment ensures that consumers enjoy a healthy environment and live a healthy life.
The CEO of the bank is the one who exercises power and control over all CSR issues. As a result, he is directly or indirectly involved in all decisions touching on the CSR of the bank. The formal code of ethics of the bank is contained in a 33-page document which is divided into twelve sections as follows:
- The use of electronic communication in business
- Customer relations and how to deal with conflict of interest
- Third-party providers
- Prevention and detection of fraud
- The requirements of the Australian Financial Services License (AFSL)
- Market information
- Public relations and publicity issues
- Compliance with the set regulations
- Consequences of breaching the code of conduct
- Declaration of the National Australia Bank Limited policy
Differentiating Between Activities
The success of a company is based on various activities that focus on the internal or external environment of the company. Examples of activities that focus on the internal environment include the training of employees, employee appraisal, efficiency and effectiveness, employee motivation, company structure, corporate governance, among others. Examples of activities that focus on the external environment include mergers and acquisitions, charity work, stakeholder engagement, networking, and conservation of the environment, among others.
The main stakeholders of the bank include consumers, employees, suppliers and competitors, the civil society, and the government. The bank recognizes that these stakeholders play an important role in its success, and as a result, it has established a good relationship with them.
In regard to the relationship between the bank and its employees, the bank has a policy in the form of an employee code of conduct. The policy is guided by the principle that all employees should be treated fairly and accorded the dignity and respect which they deserve. This policy reflects a socially responsible behavior because the respect of employees is central to the success of any company. Treating employees with respect and dignity not only makes them motivated but also enables them to get the intrinsic value of work.
The bank behaves in a socially responsible manner towards its consumers through the provision of quality services at low prices. The relationship between the bank and its consumers is based on the principles of advice, guidance, and help. The provision of quality services to consumers reflects a socially responsible behavior because it ensures that the consumers are protected from fraud, exploitation, and poor quality services.
Suppliers and competitors
The bank does not have any suppliers. However, it has established a policy that stipulates that all talented employees should be retained through various incentives such as good salaries, promotions, and support for career growth and advancement. The talented employees usually engage in the development of new products and services, which enhance the bank’s competitiveness in the banking industry. As a result, the bank minimizes the reliance on external experts to remain competitive. The bank has cushioned itself from the rivalry of its competitors through various strategies such as retaining talented employees, diversification, and expansion to foreign markets.
The bank partners with various civil society organizations on various issues that affect society. For instance, it funds various campaigns aimed at poverty eradication, environmental conservation, promotion of education among the less fortunate in the society, and educating the communities on healthy lifestyles.
Government and regulations
The bank partners with the Australian government on various development issues. For example, the Australian government borrows money from the bank to fund various development projects. The bank also adheres to all business regulations set by the Australian government. For example, it sets aside at least 1% of its profit before taxation for CSR activities every year.