BAC G1-G2 2010
The Social Responsibility of Business
What is the purpose of a business? Is it to make as much profit as possible for its shareholders? Or does a business have a wider responsibility to help solve society's problems?
Thirty or so years ago, discussions of social responsibility were of three types. Firstly, there was a lot of talk about how business people should behave in their work. Should they have the same ethical standards - the same principles - as they had in their private lives? Another question which was often discussed was: should an executive offer a bribe to secure a contract when he knew that his competitors were likely to do so? Secondly, people discussed the social responsibility of business towards its employees. They were interested in how organizations could improve the working conditions of their employees. Finally, social responsibility included the idea that business people should contribute to cultural activities through their support of activities like music festivals and art exhibitions. Executives were also expected to serve on educational committees, hospital boards... In other words, they had to take an active part in the life of their community.
These days, there is a new approach to social responsibility. Many people say that a business should try to meet the needs and, interests of society. It has an obligation to help solve the problems of society. Because of this new concept a society expects more from its business organizations. For example pressure is put on businesses to provide a safer environment.
A chemical company, therefore, is not only expected to meet government standards regarding pollution. It must also take steps to reduce pollution to as low a level as possible - even if this means reduced profit.