Types of Corporate Social Responsibility and major factors associated with corporate social responsibilityTypes of Corporate Social Responsibility and major factors associated with corporate social responsibility

Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Aditi Dash
8 minutes

  "Corporate Social Responsibility is a hard-edged business decision." - Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate economist, famously emphasized the value of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a strategic choice for businesses. Today, CSR has evolved from being a mere buzzword to a vital component of a company's success. In this engaging exploration, tailored for HR professionals and visionary companies committed to CSR, explore its diverse types, and unveil the key factors that can revolutionize your branding efforts while creating a positive social impact.

4 Major Types of CSR

Four types of corporate social responsibility

There are mainly four types of corporate social responsibility: environmental responsibility, ethical/human rights duty, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility. We'll look at each one individually here:

  1. Environmental Responsibility

Environmental corporate responsibility is a strategic approach that integrates sustainable practices into business operations. By prioritizing environmental concerns, companies can make a positive impact on the planet, strengthen their brand image, and contribute to a more sustainable future for generations to come. 

This commitment may involve reducing the company's carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, opting for sustainable resources, and prioritizing environmental considerations in all aspects of its operations, such as avoiding the use of single-use plastics. However, environmental responsibility goes beyond simply promising sustainable development. By collaborating with reputable environmental charities, businesses can actively support impactful initiatives that drive positive change.

Tesla: promoting sustainable transportation

Tesla, an electric vehicle and clean energy company, is a prominent example of environmental sustainability CSR. Their entire business model revolves around promoting sustainable transportation and reducing carbon emissions. Tesla's electric vehicles offer an alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Tesla invests in renewable energy sources like solar and battery storage, aiming to transition the world to sustainable energy.

Source: Tesla
  1. Ethical/Human Rights social responsibility

Ethical or human rights social responsibility is a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) that focuses on promoting and upholding ethical business practices and respecting human rights throughout a company's operations and supply chain. It involves ensuring that the organization's activities align with internationally recognized human rights principles, such as those outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This type of CSR emphasizes treating all individuals with dignity, fairness, and respect, regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances. It encompasses various aspects of business conduct, including labor practices, supply chain management, community engagement, and stakeholder relations.

Implementing ethical or human rights social responsibility initiatives within an organization can lead to several benefits such as:

  • Build trust and credibility among stakeholders, 
  • Enhancing the company's reputation, 
  • Fostering positive relationships with employees, customers, and communities. 
  • Mitigates risks associated with human rights violations, 
  • Ensures legal compliance, 
  • Contributes to sustainable development and social progress.

The Body Shop: empowering marginalized communities 

The Body Shop is a well-known global cosmetics and skincare company that places a strong emphasis on ethical business practices and human rights. They have long-standing commitments to fair trade, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability. The company actively works to source natural ingredients ethically and supports various community trade programs, empowering marginalized communities and promoting fair wages and working conditions.

The Body Shop's first Community Fair Trade product is a footsie roller, produced by Teddy Exports. It is a prominent example of the body shop's ethical/Human Rights social responsibility towards its CSR initiatives.
Source: Body Shop
  1. Philanthropic Responsibility

Philanthropic corporate responsibility is a type of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that focuses on charitable giving and community engagement. It involves organizations dedicating resources, both financial and non-financial, to support philanthropic initiatives and contribute to the well-being of society. Philanthropic CSR goes beyond the core business activities of a company and aims to make a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.

The benefits of philanthropic corporate responsibility are multifold. Such as:

  • It helps build a positive brand image and enhances the company's reputation as consumers are increasingly interested in supporting businesses that demonstrate a commitment to social causes.
  • Fosters employee engagement and satisfaction, as it provides them with opportunities to contribute to meaningful projects and make a difference. 
  • Contributes to the overall well-being of communities, addressing social issues and creating a positive impact on society.

Unilever: promoting sustainable living

Unilever strongly commits to philanthropy and community engagement through its "Sustainable Living Plan." They focus on improving health and well-being, promoting sustainable agriculture, and enhancing livelihoods. Unilever's "Domestos Toilet Academy" initiative is aimed at improving access to sanitation and hygiene in developing countries, benefiting communities, and creating social impact.

  1. Economic responsibility

Economic Corporate Responsibility refers to a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) that focuses on the financial and economic impact of a company's activities. It entails conducting bus ess in a manner that not only generates profits but also considers the broader economic implications for various stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, suppliers, and local communities.

By practicing economic corporate responsibility, companies can establish themselves as responsible corporate citizens, contributing to the economic well-being of society and the sustainable development of the regions where they operate.

Microsoft: supporting underserved communities

Microsoft incorporates economic responsibility into its CSR strategy through various programs. They support economic development by providing technology access and training to underserved communities. Microsoft's initiatives, such as YouthSpark and Affordable Access Initiative, aim to bridge the digital divide and create economic opportunities for individuals and businesses worldwide.

Microsoft's Youth Spark program as an example of economic responsibility
Source: Microsoft

More Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Apart from the aforementioned four types of corporate social responsibility, there are several additional ones that companies should consider incorporating into their CSR strategy.

  1. Employee Volunteering and Skills-Based Initiatives

This type of CSR can encourage and facilitate employee involvement in volunteer activities and utilize their skills to contribute to social causes. Your company can organize volunteer programs, offer paid time off for volunteering, or provide skills-based pro bono services to non-profit organizations.

  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

DEI initiatives focus on creating inclusive workplaces that value diversity and provide equal opportunities for all employees. This can involve implementing policies to promote diversity, creating mentorship programs, and providing training on unconscious bias and inclusion in your company.

  1. Supply Chain Management

As a business, you can demonstrate social responsibility by ensuring that your vendors and suppliers share your commitment to making a positive impact. This includes fair treatment of suppliers, responsible sourcing of raw materials, and monitoring of labor and environmental standards.

  1. Human Rights and Social Justice

Your company can implement CSR initiatives related to human rights and social justice which aim to uphold and protect fundamental human rights. This type of corporate social responsibility will involve supporting initiatives that address issues such as child labor, human trafficking, and gender inequality, or advocating for marginalized communities.

  1. Health and Wellness

Demonstrate your genuine concern for the well-being of your employees by prioritizing their mental and physical health with the implementation of Health and wellness CSR initiatives. Encourage your team members to engage in well-being challenges that focus on activities like tracking steps, practicing meditation, supporting healthcare programs, wellness initiatives, disease prevention campaigns, etc. By providing opportunities for personal well-being, you empower your employees to prioritize their own physical and mental wellness above all else.

Key Factors associated with Corporate Social Responsibility

Major factors associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) encompasses several key factors that guide responsible business practices. These factors reflect the commitment of organizations to make a positive impact on society, stakeholders, and the environment. The key factors of corporate social responsibility include the following:

  • Ethical Leadership
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Sustainability
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Integration into Business Strategy
  • Risk Management
  • Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Measurement and Evaluation
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Global Standards and Guidelines

However, the three major factors associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR) are:

  1. Social Impact: CSR aims to create a positive social impact by addressing societal challenges and contributing to the well-being of communities. It involves initiatives that support education, healthcare, environmental conservation, poverty alleviation, and other social causes.
  2. Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging with stakeholders is crucial in CSR. This includes employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, investors, and regulatory bodies. Actively involving stakeholders helps understand their perspectives, incorporate their feedback, and align CSR efforts with their expectations and needs.
  3. Sustainable Business Practices: CSR emphasizes the integration of sustainable business practices. It involves considering environmental impact, resource conservation, ethical sourcing, waste reduction, and energy efficiency. Implementing sustainable practices ensures long-term viability and minimizes negative effects on the environment and society.

Goodera offers a comprehensive platform that simplifies CSR management, making it easier to plan, execute, and track your social and environmental initiatives. With our intuitive interface, you can effectively engage stakeholders, align your CSR goals with your organization's mission, and monitor the impact of your initiatives. Collaborate with Goodera and plan your CSR Strategy today!


What are the four types of corporate social responsibility?

The four main types of corporate social responsibility are Environmental responsibility, Ethical/Human Rights social responsibility, Philanthropic responsibility, and Economic responsibility. However, companies should also implement 5 other types of CSR: employee volunteering, DEI, supply chain management, human rights, and wellness in creating a socially responsible environment for employees and the community.

What are the 3 major factors of corporate social responsibility?

The three primary pillars of corporate social responsibility include, first and foremost, focusing on generating a good social impact by tackling societal difficulties and supporting causes such as education, healthcare, and poverty reduction. Second, stakeholder engagement is vital in CSR, as it involves active participation and collaboration with employees, customers, communities, investors, and regulatory bodies. Finally, sustainable business practices that consider environmental impact, resource conservation, and ethical sourcing are important in ensuring long-term viability while minimizing negative environmental and societal effects.

Which type of CSR should you prioritize when creating a new program?

When starting a new CSR program, it is advisable, to begin with the foundational types of CSR, such as economic and legal responsibility. These types focus on ensuring the business operates in a profitable and compliant manner. By establishing a strong economic foundation and adhering to legal requirements, the organization can then expand its CSR efforts to encompass ethical and philanthropic responsibilities, which involve broader social and environmental considerations.

Remember the selection of CSR initiatives should align with your organization's values, industry, stakeholder interests, and the specific social and environmental issues that are most relevant to your business and community at the moment. By embracing CSR, businesses can contribute to the greater good while reaping substantial benefits. Let your organization become a beacon of positive change through a well-executed CSR strategy.

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