corporate responsibility.

Alan Fein is a versatile old-school business writer, who covers a range of business-related news, especially when it relates to finance.

What exactly is corporate responsibility and what can growing businesses learn from corporately responsible companies? It’s something we’re hearing more and more of every day but how much do we all know about what it actually is?

Corporate responsibility is generally defined as corporations or companies having a responsibility – a responsibility to its stakeholders and society at large. How stakeholders are defined can vary from corporation to corporation – but these can often be defined as customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, other financiers and larger communities. Thus a company would need to act responsibly for all of these people or groups.

Corporate responsibility can come in many different forms though. Whether this can be through the launching of staff volunteer programmers where staff volunteer their time in their local communities or whether they give up their time to help in war torn or poverty stricken countries across the world, corporate responsibility schemes vary from company to company.

Fruitful Office is a good example of a medium sized, corporately responsible business. Every time a basket of their office fruit is consumed by their customers, they’re planting fruit trees in Malawi. With one tree being planted per fruit basket consumed, this means plenty of trees are being planted. Papaya or guava trees are usually the trees of choice as they are the best for the climate but Fruitful Office do sometimes plant quick growing trees such as the Senna Siamea tree in order to provide firewood for the local people. These trees help to provide both an income and food and heating supplies for the local people.

There are many companies with corporate responsibility schemes in place. These include Ben and Jerry’s, The Body Shop and GE. Whilst their corporate responsibility schemes may differ from company to company, they all have the same aim and it is important that customers, employees and the wider community are aware of this.

Why is corporate responsibility so important to companies though? As well as caring about their customers, communities and employees, it also makes total business sense too. Many investors now want to see that the companies they are considering investing in have some form of corporate responsibility campaign in place. They don’t want to invest their time and money into a company that they do not have faith in and with investors becoming more ethically minded, companies are starting to do the same.

What can be learnt from corporately responsible companies though? We learn it is important to look after our communities, making ethical decisions and knowing how to help – whether that it our local community, wider afield or perhaps even abroad. We can look at companies like Fruitful Office who are making such a difference in Malawi, ensuring income and food can keep flowing in for those who truly need it, living on the poverty line. With fruit and firewood, they can sell for an income or even use for themselves should the need arise. Corporate responsibility is definitely needed – and it’s easy to see why.