Although multiple definitions exist, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website as “the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner.”
Some companies take CSR beyond compliance and engage in endeavours that further some social good, beyond the interests of their business and standards set by law.
Some people in the business world wholeheartedly advocate for CSR for business reasons. They strongly believe in the corporate financial impact of “doing well by doing good.” CSR, they say, is not only good for people and communities, but also for business. They see it as a win/win/win.
Others in the business community see it is a distraction from a company’s core financial goals, making them less efficient and effective, and they cite as much research as the advocates that CSR does not have a positive impact on business performance.
Still others criticize CSR, viewing it as some type of corporate smoke-screening and concluding that because a company may do better as a result of having a strong CSR strategy, there is something unethical about it.
Whatever your position on CSR is, economic development initiatives do not exist in a vacuum; they must have the support and cooperation of government, residents, and the local corporate community to be impactful. Whether having a strong CSR policy is good for the company or not – or why they have one – is debatable. Whether or not it is good for the community is clear. We are fortunate to have such great and supportive local businesses, both large and small, in Hope. All of our major private employers have robust CSR strategies that the community benefits from and the smaller businesses support many programs, events and initiatives year round. This is definitely a win/win/win in our community.
Through our work going forward, we at AdvantageHOPE will focus on attracting other businesses to town who share this local value of Corporate Social Responsibility and who will be contributing corporate members of our community.
Visit www.AdvantageHOPE.ca or our Facebook page to stay up to date on information and activities we are engaged in to build community and prosperity in Hope.
Tammy Shields is the executive director of AdvantageHOPE, Hope’s economic development agency. AdvantageHOPE can be contacted at 604-860-0930 or firstname.lastname@example.org