Social responsibility is an ethical or ideological theory that an entity whether it is a government, corporation, organization or individual has a responsibility to society at large. This responsibility can be "negative", meaning there is exemption from blame or liability, or it can be "positive," meaning there is a responsibility to act beneficently (proactive stance).
Businesses can use ethical decision making to secure their businesses by making decisions that allow for government agencies to minimize their involvement with the corporation. (Kaliski, 2001) For instance if a company is proactive and follows the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for emissions on dangerous pollutants and even goes an extra step to get involved in the community and address those concerns that the public might have; they would be less likely to have the EPA investigate them for environmental concerns. “A significant element of current thinking about privacy, however, stresses "self-regulation" rather than market or government mechanisms for protecting personal information” (Swire , 1997) Most rules and regulations are formed due to public outcry, if there is not outcry there often will be limited regulation.
Critics argue that Corporate social responsibility (CSR) distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses; others argue that it is nothing more than superficial window-dressing; others argue that it is an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations (Carpenter, Bauer, & Erdogan, 2009).
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business, sustainable responsible (SRB), or corporate social performance, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. Ideally, CSR policy would function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business would monitor and ensure their adherence to law, ethical standards, and international norms. Business would embrace responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stockholders and all other members of the public sphere
For each business, different measures are taken in consideration to classify a business as "socially responsible". Each business attempts to reach different goals. There are four areas that should be measured regardless of the outcome needed: Economic function, Quality of life, Social investment and Problem solving. that is trying to be achieved should be measured to see if it meets with the cost guidelines that the business is willing to contribute.
Social responsibility as a non-binding, or soft law principle has received some normative status in relation to private and public corporations in the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Universal Declation on Bioethics and Human Rights developed by the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee particularly in relation to child and maternal welfare.(Faunce and Nasu 2009) The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is developing an international standard to provide guidelines for adopting and disseminating social responsibility: ISO 26000 - Social Responsibility. Due for publication in 2010, this standard will "encourage voluntary commitment to social responsibility and will lead to common guidance on concepts, definitions and methods of evaluation." (ISO, 2009) The standard describes itself as a guide for dialogue and action, not a constraining or certifiable management standard.
Carpenter, M., Bauer, T. & Erdogan, B. (2009). Principles of Management. Nyack, NY: Flat World Knowledge.
Faunce TA and Nasu H. Normative Foundations of Technology Transfer and Transnational Benefit Principles in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human RightsJournal of Medicine and Philosophy , 0 : 1 – 26, 2009 doi:10.1093/jmp/jhp021. http://law.anu.edu.au/StaffUploads/236-Art%20JMedPhilosUS09.pdf
ISO - International Organization for Standardization. (2009), Social Responsibiity - ISO 26000, Web site: http://www.iso.or/sr
Kaliski, B. (Ed.). Social Responsibility and Organizational Ethics. (2001). Encyclopedia of Business and Finance (2nd ed., Vol. 1). New York: Macmillan Reference.
Kaliski, B. (Ed.). Ethics in Management. (2001). Encyclopedia of Business and Finance (2nd ed., Vol. 1). New York: Macmillan Reference.
Pride, William M., Hughes, Robert James, & Kapoor, Jack R. (2008). Business (9th ed.) Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0618770917
Some groups of professionals have defined their own intrinsic social responsibilities. Here are some examples: