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The role of Technology in Corporate Social Responsibility Programs Essay

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the act of engaging in social development projects that every member of society can benefit from (Wan). It usually practiced by organizations as part of their contribution to society. Government does everything it can to ensure that organizations live up to their responsibilities when it comes to preserving the environment for the good of all by making environmental and social polices to protect the people.

CSR ensures that companies are more sensitive to all interests that are affected by their daily operations. They have to take into consideration the surrounding societies, environment, shareholders, customers and all other stakeholders affected by the business. There are many technology practices available today that are targeted at improving the impact of CSR on the environment. This study takes a look at the concept of CSR, its benefits and association with technology (Kotler & Lee). Introduction to CSR

The latest survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit reports that CSR has become a significant activity in the global business community and has a huge impact on the relations between organizations and their stakeholders. These stakeholders include governments, vendors, employees, suppliers, customers and so on. A survey of corporate executives around the world was conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit in 2004 on their perception of the importance of CSR. The results are as follows: 1) 85% of executives and investors agreed that CSR was a significant consideration in making investment decisions.

2) The three basic aspects of CSR that were most beneficial to them include effective corporate governance (58%), transparency (51%), and ethical behaviour of employees (67%) 3) 85% of those surveyed also agreed that CSR could improve a company’s image and provide unlimited benefits to the business. Most of them however believed that costs and unseen benefits of CSR serve as the major obstacles to the successful implementation of CSR initiatives (Economist Intelligence Unit).

CSR can be broadly defined as the consideration of the social and environmental concerns of stakeholders in the implementation of business objectives. According to Murthy, the chairman of Infosys, this involves ensuring that the company can grow positively while making sure that all stakeholders affected directly or indirectly by the business are treated fairly. The survey however reveals that most organizations focus more on the internal benefits of CSR like ethical behaviour and transparency than the external aspects of CSR such as ethical investments and philanthropic gestures.

These internal and external aspects of CSR are supposed to merge in a bid to arrive at a common and comprehensive CSR policy (Economist Intelligence Unit). Until recently, CSR was seen only as a means of placating environmentalists and human rights activists. In recent times, companies are beginning to see its associated benefits and are focusing on ways of improving it and integrating it into their core business processes in an optimal fashion. Measuring customer satisfaction and boosting the morale of employees constitute some of the major aspects that organizations are now willing to invest time and money on.

The increased gravitation of organizations towards CSR is further necessitated by increased globalization of businesses, lack of trust in huge corporations, competitive pressures, need for investor confidence amongst other major factors. The benefits of CSR are numerous and even though organizations cannot quantify it in terms of dollars and cents, there is no doubt that it has positive implications and its implementation should not be ignored (Kotler & Lee). Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL), a company based in Indonesia is one that has learnt the implications of not practising their social responsibility appropriately.

When activists started attacking their sites and work place, they knew it was time to do the right thing concerning their logging policies and in conserving the earth’s natural resources. Almost half of all the Fortune 500 Companies in the world today have some sort of report on concerted efforts at sustaining the environment, social relations and ethics. Most companies have started paying attention to being socially responsible and billions of dollars are being invested annually on socially responsible projects. Investors and major stakeholders now expect companies to pay sufficient attention to CSR projects (Economist Intelligence Unit).

There are different definitions of CSR and it is referred to by a variety of names. Some of these names include Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Accountability, Global Citizenship and so on. Whatever the definition of CSR that is adopted, it is obvious that a company has fundamental principles to operate by if it plans to remain relevant. These principles involve treating its customers well, preserving the environment, respecting differences amongst people, treating its employees appropriately, amongst other ethical concerns.

All these have been necessitated by the erosion of trust in corporate management due to the numerous financial scandals that have overtaken many industries in recent times. Examples include the collapse of Enron in the US and Parmalat in Italy. Drivers of continual development of CSR activities include the following: Corporate scandals, pressure from regulators, globalization, off shoring amongst others. Technology & CSR Having discussed the benefits of CSR, there is no way these can be achieved without technology. Technology and CSR are closely integrated.

Technology helps to facilitate CSR by providing the necessary background and infrastructure for communication and data exchange (Comprehensive). The introduction of CRM technologies have contributed to ensuring the introduction of an effective means of measuring customer satisfaction. Through CRM technologies such as Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, a platform for interacting with all stakeholders on a consistent and interactive basis is provided. The spate at which technology is making an impact in most organizations, especially on the way businesses are being operated is outstanding.

No matter the nature of technology employed in managing businesses, there’s a need to ensure that environmental and safety hazards are prevented and managed (Comprehensive). A huge aspect of CSR is fraud management. Audits and complete disclosures are fundamental principles that need to be encouraged in the work place. Also information should be accurate, timely and available in order to be able to make effective and sound decisions. Because there’s an intense need for information at the right time, the role of deploying sound and efficient information systems cannot be downplayed (Kohli & Sing).

Information systems that have audit capabilities and monitoring features should be implemented to facilitate fraud monitoring and improve transparency. The major role of IT is in storing data, managing data, processing information, analyzing information and disseminating this information in a manner that will be useful for effective decision making. There are many challenges to using technology to improve and maintain the standards of CSR. These challenges will be highlighted and discussed in a bid to arrive at possible solutions to these challenges.

Increased globalization has brought about the era of technology-driven processes and an environment where people make business decisions based on the information that’s available to them at any particular time. An organization should be able to look beyond its drive for making profit and embark on corporate social responsibility projects that will be beneficial for everyone in the society. Technology can be implemented in CSR through the following: • Risk Management • Increasing resource efficiency and capital access

• Establishing a good relationship with Stakeholders • Identifying future and innovative opportunities A company needs to re-evaluate its policies based on the identified business objectives and outline innovative ways it can adopt in order to have a huge positive impact on its environment. These ways must be put into action and imbibed as part of the company’s corporate culture. CSR has both internal and external facets to a practising organization; The internal facet focuses basically on health and safety, change management, human capital development and so on.

The external facet however, has to do with managing the natural resources that are used in production. The external facet involves all the stakeholders that are affected by the company’s activities in one way or the other. The Impact of Information Technology on CSR Changes in Management of information Advances in technology have changed the way information is managed. Important data can now be stored and accessed electronically from an Information systems platform. Computer systems are now able to perform complex analytical and computational activities on existing data.

In addition, data can be managed in a way that’s more effective than the manual style of data management which was prone to errors, alteration and fraud. Customer preferences, changes in technological trends, performance indicators and other major factors that affect the business can be monitored and statistical information can also be generated at a moment’s notice. The advent of emails, chat windows, forums and other methods of internet communication have facilitated the easy spread of relevant information on a timely basis (Kohli & Sing).

These software are easily available, easy to use and do not cost much to implement. Information is the life blood of most organizations and their business processes. If the relevant information can be made available when it is needed, then companies will be able to implement their corporate responsibility policies in line with the requirements of supervising bodies. Information needs to be protected with a combination of internal controls that can ensure effective monitoring of data. Priority needs to be placed on protecting company information.

By deploying effective security mechanisms, software and safe practices, sensitive company data such as information about clients, trade secrets, financial data and other relevant information will be protected from the hands of those that may potentially use it to accomplish malicious activities and fraud. These issues can be effectively tackled by deploying IT management practices that can help to identify risks associated with the technology deployed in the organization, and highlight the role of auditors and management staff in the implementation of its CSR policies and practices.

It is difficult to find an organization that does not depend on IT to implement its basic infrastructure. Management focus has shifted to making sure that the right policies towards IT is deployed and maintained. This is the right move because the potential of IT is boundless. Using computer systems to store data is not a fool-proof method. Data is still prone to factors like viruses, worms and malware that can either destroy the data or compromise its integrity. Any breakdown or compromise to the data stored in computer systems can cause loss of data.

Compromise in data security can lead to loss of billions of dollars in profit and revenue. Managers should ensure that risks are identified and managed by implementing the appropriate checks and balances. Physical security, back up procedures and effective security policies and standards need to be deployed to ensure that information is safe at all times Limitations of Using IT for CSR There are many challenges in using IT for achieving CSR objectives. One of them is cost. Organizations are often unclear about how the economic and social costs involved in setting up such a system will be borne.

The increased acceptance and utilization of IT will eventually assuage the fears of most organizations and lead to the eventual implementation of CSR systems (Kohli & Sing). The issue of information risk is also one of major concerns to most organizations. If information is exposed in an open network, it may become susceptible to hacking and different forms of attack. Increased security infrastructure and software solutions may help to curtail the negative effects of this. IT is however not the only type of technology that can be deployed in organizations.

Effects of Basic Technology on CSR Numerous technologies exist that have the potential to have a negative impact on the surroundings. Companies that make use of technologies that emit smoke have a responsibility to their environment. Cement manufacturing companies should be sensitive to their surroundings and make sure that their factories are stationed well away from individuals and home settlements. This is because cement production has waste materials and gases that can have a negative effect on people that breathe in these harmful particles.

Refineries that make use of complex technological innovations and machines should also be conscious of their environment and engage in proper waste disposal mechanisms. Oil factories should be situated away from residential homes, avoid oil spillage and ensure that waste products are properly disposed of. By ensuring that waste is properly managed, organizations can contribute to the overall sustenance of the environment thereby fulfilling their social responsibility to the environment.

The reason why technology has a huge effect on CSR is because most organizations cannot operate without the use of technology. Technology is what has brought us to the point we’re in today in terms of development. Technology has helped to ease existing methods of doing things and ensures that our business processes are more efficient and can be implemented in a manner that is automated and without much human intervention. Conclusion CSR can only be practiced effectively if businesses are able to do what is expected of them.

CSR should be incorporated into every aspect of an organization. Once it becomes a part of the corporate culture, it becomes extremely easy to accomplish and implement. Fairness and corporate governance should also be part of every company’s code of conduct. Technology serves as a means of achieving most of the objectives that a company needs to attain. Increased access to information plays a major role in the enhancement of the technology adopted by organizations. These organizations need to pay attention to their environment and this should serve as a first point of consideration.

A lot of hassles can be avoided if companies pay significant attention to the aftermath of any technology they deploy. Since technology is meant to ease business operations, care should be taken to ensure that it doesn’t cause more harm than good. Works Cited Comprehensive, Nlp. NLP: The New Technology of Achievement. Brattleboro: Harper Paperbacks, 1996. Economist Intelligence Unit. “Importance of Corporate Responsibility. ” Economist Intelligence Unit. 30 Apr. 2009 <graphics. eiu.

com/files/ad_pdfs/eiuOracle_CorporateResponsibility_WP. pdf>. Kohli , Abeerah and Sing, Jasmeet. “Impact of Information Technology on Corporate Social Responsibility. ” Legal Service India. 30 Apr. 2009 <http://www. legalserviceindia. com/articles/info_law. htm>. Kotler, Philip, and Lee, Nancy. Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. New York, NY: Wiley, 2004. Wan-Jan, Wan. “Defining corporate social responsibility. ” Journal of Public Affairs 6. 3-4 (2006): 176-184.

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