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Corporate Social Responsibility and Accountability in times of Social Unrest

Generally speaking, corporations have considered their sense of corporate social responsibility by seeking to adhere to the unwritten moral obligation, and sense of stewardship, of doing what is right for stakeholders and the community. The benefits of doing so have ranged from being awarded the public’s theoretical approval along with a licence to operate, as well as recurring opportunities to enhance their own reputation from a marketing and/or public relations perspective. Traditionally, corporations have fulfilled their moral obligations by adopting methods and practices which can include:

(i) reducing any negative environmental impact;

(ii) improving their internal labour policies;

(iii) community outreach by way of volunteering; and last, but not least,

(iv) by their provision of generous donations to charity.

Notwithstanding this and given the current climate of social unrest (about most recently by the death of Mr. George Floyd), the reality is that corporate social responsibility is evolving, and corporations are minded to remain abreast of the continuously changing demands and standards of social responsibility which society holds them accountable to. Simply put, what may have worked in the past, is either increasingly becoming outdated or is deemed insufficient for the court of public approval. As highlighted by the below cited article, in addition to adhering to traditional forms of corporate social responsibility, corporations, particularly those with larger and more well established platforms, are very much expected to enter the ‘public conversation,’ and seek to credibly and consistently use their respective voices to promote social justice, or risk the inevitable societal backlash from any inaction, passiveness or contradiction

Companies should be prepared to answer questions — from employees, the news media and other stakeholders — about how they can do more to fight racism and promote diversity.

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