Thursday, May 25, 2006

Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations

We've had a great response to our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Public Relations challenge with many great posts.

So many so its probably clogged up the comments page.

So if you haven't already done so, post your comment and contribution here.

Best of luck

Tom Murrell

18 comments:

Sascha Bartley, 20050241 said...

Corporate Social Responsibility:

When a company decides to introduce corporate social responsibility programs that company agrees to operate their business in a manner either meeting or exceeding the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of businesses.

Practices of corporate social responsibility are becoming more and more common within companies of all sizes. Corporate social responsibility is introduced into the workplace as a means of building relationships with employees, their families, stakeholders and society at large. In the modern day both within and outside of the workplace people are developing a greater sense of spirituality. This developed sense of spirituality is encouraging people to integrate within society whether it is through offering their physical services to not for profit organizations, monetary donations to the under privileged or general assistance within the community.

Employing corporate social responsibility within organisations is considered a very effective public relations tool rather than a latest management fad. An example of a company that believes corporate social responsibility is vital public relations tool is Alcoa. Alcoa state that their most immediate community is their employees; they believe that their employees are the key to the success and reputation of their business. Alcoa state that their employees’ motivation and morale are critical to their productivity and that it is important to the employees that Alcoa are committed to their communities, particularly as the company’s presence is so highly visible.

Alcoa employ various corporate social responsibility programs that encourage and support their employees to become active within their communities. One example of this is driven through the Alcoa Foundation. Each of their employees around Australia are eligible for a US$300 grant to support an organization, once they have done 50 hours of volunteer work for that organization within a year. This concept seems to be working successfully as in 2005 Alcoa employees volunteered more than 100 000 personal hours in their local communities. In 2005 the foundation provided around $1 million for emergency services, schools, disability services, sports, arts and environmental groups. Alcoa believes that by encouraging this involvement they see a greater level of trust, achievement and productive two-way partnerships that results in vibrant communities and productive workplaces.

The growth of a business can only happen with the support of the stakeholders in the community where the business operates. For a business to achieve sustainability communities must be able to realize the benefits from the presence of the business.

While there are many benefits there are also disadvantages and concerns for companies when they decide to introduce policies such as corporate social responsibility. For a company to employ such policies and procedures there are many monetary and time related costs associated with the running of these programs. Community involvement can cost businesses a substantial amount of money annually and when found in a situation of limited monetary resources in almost every case these programs will be one of the first programs to be withdrawn from operation. In the case of discontinuing the program this could potentially leave a bitter taste amongst communities that were previously supported which could in turn end in bad publicity and further ethical issues could arise.

Through the continual growth of corporate social responsibility within countless organisations its benefits will continue to outshine any possible disadvantages associated with the concept. The long term growth proving to all public relation critics within the corporate world that corporate social responsibility is not just a passing management fad but rather a successful and constructive concept that results in bringing corporations and communities closer together.


References:

Alcoa (2006).
http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/about_alcoa/commitment_to_sustain/pdfs/wayne_osborne_speech.pdf, accessed 20 June, 2006.
The Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership (2006). http://www.partnerships.gov.au/csr/corporate_csr_defined.shtml, accessed 20 June, 2006.

Anonymous said...

Corporate Social Responsibility: Effective PR Strategy or latest Management Fad?
Corporate Social Responsibility has the potential to be a highly effective and mutually beneficial Public Relations strategy with the right approach and implementation. It is the company’s use of a corporate social responsibility strategy that determines whether it is an effective program or a whimsical fad that wastes time and resources.

There are many definitions of corporate social responsibility and it can be used for many different reasons. Corporate social responsibility programs are those which serve the communities interest as well as the company’s. Thus not just any corporate sponsored community programme qualifies as a good public relations strategy. As most peoples opinion of a company are shaped by personal experience corporate social responsibility programs create an excellent opportunity for a much wider pool of people to experience first hand a companies values than the traditional employee, customers and shareholders. This also highlights why the program must compliment the companies business goals.
Key factors that separate an effective corporate social responsibility strategy from a management fad are:
_ Corporate social responsibility strategies must compliment the company’s business objectives.
_ The programs must build the company’s credibility with its stakeholders
_ Credibility will be built by establishing feasible expectations
_ Open communication with stakeholders to build relationships
_ Commitment to problem solving and the longevity of social responsibility programs
_ Consistency of performance and communication


Effective public relations strategies can add to the longevity of a company by tackling emerging public concerns or issues that could cause adverse publicity. A good example is Coles Myers approach to the plastic bag issue. This was a growing concern amongst many environmental pressure groups who have been lobbying for legislative change in regards to this matter. In response to these growing community concerns Coles Myer has collaborated with Clean Up Australia, Landcare, Planet Ark, the Australian Retail Association and the government to set targets for plastic bag reduction and develop strategies for phasing them out by December 2008 (according to the 2005 Coles Myer Social Responsibility Report). By collaborating with these pressure groups and implementing a corporate social responsibility strategy it prevents any publics becoming wedged against the organisation. It also allows the company to be remembered as taking a stand on an issue which is essentially outside their legal responsibility. As industries are increasingly dominated by a few large national or multinational corporations communities need reassurance that these corporations have a social conscience especially in markets where their sheer size means that they don’t necessarily have to worry about small minority interests, showing a concern for the environmental impact of one’s business practices is a good way to demonstrate that a corporation is in touch with the needs of the community.

The plastic bag issue is also a good example of how corporate social responsibility strategies have to be well planned and addressed seriously by the corporation. Recently it has been announced that the major retailers failed to meet this years target or plastic bag reduction. Failing this year’s benchmark could be a result either of their methodology or perhaps even setting an unrealistic benchmark. However, this is the real test of corporate social responsibility programs because they will not always run smoothly and if a corporation is to build credibility in the long term it needs to be committed to both its business and public relations goals. It is important that the company does not abandon its program because it is by abandoning public relations programs that they seem like management fads and damage relationships with stakeholders.

Thus although corporate social responsibility programs have the potential to be effective public relations strategies they must be well planned and executed to benefit the company and the community.

Rebecca Hardie
Student Number: 20041828

Anonymous said...

Corporate social responsibility can be used as an effective public relations strategy. It is a means by which all types of organisations are able to incorporate aspects concerning their operations and interactions with their stakeholders. These concerns are in addition to the organisation’s legal responsibilities. They include social, environmental, legal, economical and ethical concerns.

Organisations such as public, private and not-for-profit are all able to use corporate social responsibility to increase the prospect of achieving corporate objectives. This is done by increasing their public image which in turn gives the organisations a competitive advantage and enables it to build trust with its publics. An example of such an organisation and their use of corporate social responsibility is the Woodside Corporate Citizenship Program.

Woodside used this program in order to successfully recruit staff who bought corporate culture and values as well as building on existing community partnerships. It formed a link between young individuals and a variety of areas in the community and within the organisation. In developing their corporate strategy, Woodside’s aim was to make people proud to be associated with Woodside. Their strategy used communication channels such as their website, posters in lifts and the workplace, a global email system and word of mouth. Accordingly, it aligned with Woodside’s Standards of Conduct and Business Ethics; and hence its success can be credited to viewing corporate social responsibility as a main concern.

Corporate social responsibility can provide various benefits for an organisation. The main benefit of adopting corporate social responsibility is that it gives the organisation a good reputation. If Woodside takes into account aspects relating to the interactions with their stakeholders, they are seen by the public as essentially being conscientious. Since they have the aim of making people proud and take into account their stakeholders, it not only increases its reputation, but also its credibility as well as revenue-raising. Another way Woodside is able to achieve this level of public trust, is by supporting community organisations and charities. Benefits such as longevity, integrity and generation of goodwill are all a result of implementing a successful corporate social responsibility strategy, which in turn supports the idea that it is an effective public relations strategy.

Even though there are numerous benefits of a corporate social responsibility strategy, there are also several pitfalls, which may cause some people to view corporate social responsibility as a marketing fad. Costs may be seen as a pitfall for some organisations, while for others it can be seen as an investment. These costs are not only monetary, but can also be costs of time and effort. They are associated with setting up a corporate strategy or program such as the one set up by Woodside. Another pitfall is miscommunication of the message the organisation is trying to portray. The CEOs or partners of an organisation may not portray their intended message correctly and create a miscommunication with its stakeholders, consequently may affect their public relations strategy.

In conclusion, even though there are numerous pitfalls and benefits of integrating corporate social responsibility in every organisation, the benefits out rule the pitfalls, and hence allow for an effective public relations strategy. It can not only help a company to flourish, but also enable it to build on the interactions with its stakeholders. However, in order for the strategy to be effective and successful, it must be carefully planned and implemented.


Ana Frasquilho
20041457

Alyce Stagg said...

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an effort on behalf of an organisation, to increase the positive impacts it may have on its publics whilst at the same time ridding itself of any negative impacts.

The concept of CSR is an increasing trend that we see in businesses today, with some entering survey’s and indexes where their efforts towards CSR is measured against other companies. An example of this can be found at Australia’s annual Corporate Responsibility Index. This year the company with the highest rating CSR policy was Westpac, which scored a total of 100%. Like most people who have read the index I was initially confused about just how you rate social corporate responsibility. By breaking down the ratings process we can begin to understand the formulas and services that need to be provided by companies in order to successfully demonstrate CSR.

The sections each company was analysed under were corporate strategy, integration, management practice, performance and impact on environment and performance and impact on society.

Corporate strategy is about the effective communication of CSR policies to the company’s employees and publics. This includes setting out clearly defined, logical and achievable CSR policies, ensuring the top level of the company supports the policies and finally ensuring all people within the organisation are aware of, and will integrate the measures.

The second phase is integration. This involves close monitoring of the CSR policies in relation to performance and progress criteria. Further more the company must also report the findings to all of the company’s employees and publics in a clear, indecisive manner.

The third phase is management practice. This involves putting in place clear strategies for managing the community, environment, workplace and marketplace risks. Obviously not all of these risks can be covered and accounted for so just the most likely, or crucial risks should go through this process. This process also includes looking at the long term effects on these publics and assessing what can be done to eliminate any problems that the organisation may encounter in the future.

The forth and final assessment criteria is performance and impact. This stage involved honestly assessing the effectiveness of implemented CSR programs and using this information to draw conclusions about the overall success of the campaigns.

In relation to Westpac, there are several effective CSR campaigns that the organisation ahs implemented over the years. In relation to employees the organisation has implemented several programs such as equal opportunity and diversity, occupational health and safety and work life balance programs.

In relation to the environment they have put in specific measures to limit water consumption and have created awareness about several other environmental issues such as climate change.

Westpac has also put in place specific measures to ensure their customers are dealt with in a responsible manner. Some specific examples are their commitment to providing socially responsible products, accessible service and standing by a strict Code of Banking Practice.

Social and community issues have also been considered and certain programs and sponsorships put in place to address these issues. In particular Westpac works closely with indigenous communities and have developed partnerships to ensure support and awareness of issues pending in this society.

Having strong CSR policies is a great asset for any organisation. The effective implementation of these policies can strengthen an organisation in many ways. Employees will be encouraged to work harder and more efficiently if they are being treated correctly and if they are aware that their work serves a good cause. Customers and other publics will invest more frequently in an organisation if they are aware of the goodwill they do and know that their actions serve a good cause. Despite these positive aspects, CSR has its downfalls.

Constant project sponsoring, additional programs and policies based more on ethics than monetary costs can be a very expensive and timely to maintain. Generally if a company is not making enough profit, their CSR policies and activities are the first to go. Another pitfall is addressing all aspects of responsible behaviour. An example of this is the environment. If Westpac are limiting water consumption then they need to limit other resource use such as paper and power. It is hard to tell sometimes, where to draw the line.

Despite the numerous pitfalls CSR is an increasing trend that businesses are keen to be involved in. The benefits of adopting effective CSR policies far outweigh the negatives that can be incurred. In the future we will see an increasing number of organisations commit themselves to more responsible practices which can only be a good thing for the community and relative publics.
References

Australian Government, The Prime Ministers community business partnership, Australia, Viewed on 23rd May 2006,
http://www.partnerships.gov.au/csr/corporate_csr_defined.shtml.

Corporate Responsibility Index, How the Leaders Become Leaders, the differentiating aspects of corporate responsibility performance, Viewed on 23rd May 2006, http://www.corporate-responsibility.com.au/PDFs/2005_EY_leaders_article.pdf.

Westpac Banking Corporation, 2006, Viewed on 23rd May 2006, http://www.corporate-responsibility.com.au/.

lauren_macpherson 20050031 said...

Corporate Social Responsibility is an instrument for organisations, government departments and not for profit organisations to incorporate social and environmental concerns into their operations and interactions with their staff, clients, member’s, suppliers and the community which are above and beyond their legal responsibilities.

With reference to the statement “Corporate Social Responsibility: effective Public Relations strategy or latest management fad?”; there are a number of benefits and pitfalls to an organisation for adopting and utilising Corporate Social Responsibility.

Benefits to an organisation are:
 Building of credibility with stakeholders
 Support provided to a community organisation
 Builds a good reputation with the public
 Longevity of the organisation’s promotion
 Provides organisation with exposure to the press and the public

Pitfalls to an organisation are:
 Possible cost blow-out
 Miscommunication of message
 Implications on reputation if failure occurs

In example, ExtendedPlay is a local organisation providing DJ services, hire and purchase of equipment to the public. ExtendedPlay uses Corporate Social Responsibility as an effective Public Relations strategy by providing local community groups with the staff and equipment required to run DJ Workshops to budding young adults. ExtendedPlay chose to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility into the running of the organisation in order to provide the community with a valuable service whilst utilising some of the many benefits.

ExtendedPlay benefits from providing workshops to the community in the form of building credibility and awareness and from the longevity of the exposure received.

As three community centres are each provided with workshops in unison with the school term, every 10 weeks a total of 30 young adults are made directly aware of the services offered by ExtendedPlay and are taught the knowledge required to participate in the hobby. This assists in the creation of future customers for the organisation and building a good rapport with the students and their friends.

With the provision of a service to communities a good reputation is gained with government and local organisations. Through this, often beneficial business relationships are formed and bookings for the provision of DJ services are obtained. I believe people seeking services are more likely to engage with an organisation which returns something to the surrounding community.

By providing the community groups with workshops for the duration of the school terms longevity of organisational exposure is obtained.

The main pitfall which has had to be analysed by ExtendedPlay is the possibility of a cost blow-out. As the organisation is required to pay the workshop teacher it must be verified that the benefits of engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility outweigh the financial costs incurred. In order to minimise costs all workshops are held at 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These are days/times during which it is unlikely that the required equipment has the opportunity to be hired out to customers and therefore minimising the chance of loss of revenue.

Corporate Social Responsibility is an avenue for ExtendedPlay to incorporate social concerns into their operations and to interact with the community. They are not legally obliged to provide such a service but use it as an effective Public Relations strategy for the organisation.

Lauren Macpherson 20050031

Ella Hams said...

Ella Hams 20030353

Corporate Social Responsibility:

With so many public relation strategies becoming prevalent in Australia, it is likely that many will be viewed cautiously by the public and businesses alike. Corporate social responsibility is no exception to this rule, as the public is well aware that strategies such as these are employed in order to encourage the public to view an organisation in a positive light. However corporate social responsibility has been proven to be very effective in developing positive public relations for organisations. The way in which an organisation implements their corporate social responsibility plan can determine whether or not it is an effective strategy or simply a public relation fad.

Corporate social Responsibility may be defined as “A mechanism for entities to voluntarily integrate social and environmental concerns into their operations and their interactions with their stakeholders, which are over and above the entity’s legal responsibilities.” Due to the fact that a public’s perception of a business can be shaped by what they contribute to society, corporate social responsibility can be very beneficial for businesses. This is particularly relevant when a business is causing environmental or social issues, such as the oil and gas industry.

An example of this is Talisman Energy and their efforts to counteract the negative PR that they have received as a result of their oil mining developments in Sudan. Talisman energy defines CSR as “conducting activities in an economic, social and environmentally responsible manner”. Investing in Sudan has created vast public concern, due the extensive human rights violations which have been reported in Sudan. Talisman Energy have responded to this by using their operations to create direct benefits to the communities in which they operate, including the creation of jobs, expansion of local infrastructure and the support of community projects that create opportunities. Talisman Energy identifies the fact that in the oil and gas industry the public, shareholder and governments demand more for the public than profitability.

Talisman Energy contribute large amounts of money in dealing with the publics concerns such as, human rights and safety issues, and as a result their corporate social responsibility has been beneficial in identifying them as an asset to the country and an organisation endeavouring to create peace. This is surprising considering the foundation of their business is based on taking advantage of this war torn country for the financial benefit of a western organisation. The expansion of this business can only take place when they have the support of the public and shareholders and as such a corporate social responsibility plan is essential in the success and growth of Talisman Energy.

While the benefits certainly out way the disadvantages, there are pitfalls in utilising Corporate Social Responsibility in this case. These may include: vast monetary expenditure, as well as an extensive time related cost which is inevitable in the implementation of CSR plan in a war torn country, such as Sudan.

Aside from these monetary and time costs, the benefits of corporate social responsibility are vast in creating a positive response to an organisation. CSR can counteract negative impressions of an organisation, and can assist businesses in long term plans regarding image and public perceptions. Corporate Social Responsibility can be attributed to the development of unified goals and objectives between organisations and their publics as well as developing more community based relationships. Considering all of these positive benefits, I believe that it is inevitable that corporate Social responsibility will continue to play an integral role in public relations and organisational planning, going forward.

References:

Corporate Social Responsibility Report Sudan Operations, accesses 25th May 2006, http://www.talisman-energy.com/pdfs/csr2000_report.pdf.

Australian Standard AS 8003-2003 “Corporate Social Responsibility”.

Anonymous said...

Corporate Social Responsibility: Essential PR Tool or Management Fad?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is when an organisation, when conducting it business, considers the welfare of the community. Although not compulsory, CSR is when businesses incorporate social, ethical, legal and environmental concerns into their business operations. By doing so the business is trying to make itself more appealing and caring to the community. CSR is quickly gaining popularity as people become more and more concerned with how businesses operate. It can be seen as a businesses obligation to be sensitive to the needs of all of the stakeholders in its business operations.

Corporate Social Responsibility is by far an effective public relations strategy rather then the ‘latest’ management fad. Business executives realise the importance of the general population, as they realistically keep the business active, so more care is taken to how they are treated. When implemented effectively CSR are good tools. The National Australia Bank (NAB), a major Australian company, has incorporated CSR into their business. The NAB CSR insures that all of the NAB operations are conducted in a transparent and ethical way so that the shareholders value is enhanced. The NAB compiles annual CSR reports that benchmark their economic, social and environmental performance against the global benchmarking standards. Copies of The NAB CSR are available of their website so that the stakeholders can view the available shared information.

The benefits of CSR vary depending on the type of business, and sometimes benefits are hard to measure. In terms of human resources, CSR can be important to recruitment and retention in that more people are concerned about CSR that they may want to work for a company with an excellent CSR. A company with a CSR may create a happy atmosphere amongst employees as public reflection may be positive and therefore they feel good about their work.

By establishing a good business culture, based on a CSR, this can help to lower risks. Businesses can go broke overnight from doing wrongful dealings, which draw negative views of the business. However with a ‘good’ work ethic and a strong CSR, doing the right thing all the time would not be difficult and the business can prosper.

By building a business on a strong ethical base can help distinguish it from the competition. The Body Shop is committed to ethical dealings and is evident in their work. They care about human rights and the environment and this separates them from their competition and with this CSR they are able to gain more customers who feel ‘better’ about shopping at The Body Shop. Some businesses also use CSR to improve a pre-existing negative image. For example, Tobacco/Cigarette companies may donate money to hospitals and cancer research to try to draw attention away/minimise the negative image they have because they manufacture smoking products, which make you sick.

However, CSR still has its problems. One problem with CSR is that it could squander one of the businesses main aims, to create a profit. If too much money was injected into the CSR but did not noticeably alter the profit margin, then money is being lost producing the CSR rather then generating more profit. Also, some companies may misuse the CSR. For example, if a company were to sponsor a charitable organisation they may not be doing so to show how they care about the community but rather doing it for their own good and to get their image seen.
If a company were to ‘break’ their CSR e.g. be for human rights and donate money towards it, yet exploit their employees, then the reputation will diminish and possibly destroy the business.

Overall, CSR are playing an important, if not vital role in the business world today. More and more people are paying attention to a businesses dealings and it is vital for a business to remain with a positive image in the eyes of the consumer. The benefits far outweigh the negatives and can make the business more appealing to the consumer. All businesses should seriously consider implementing a CSR.


Reference:

National Australia Bank – Corporate Responsibility
http://www.nabgroup.com/0,,33873,00.html

Wikipedia – Corporate Social Responsibility
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility

Andrew Dunning 20050866

Anonymous said...

Corporate Social Responsibility
Matilda Sydenham - 20050333

Corporate Social Responsibility is concerned with and organisation making a conscious effort to improve and increase the positive impacts that it has on its various publics. It also aims to minimise the number or any negative impacts, which it may have on any of its publics. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines corporate social responsibility as “an expression used to describe what some see as a company’s obligation to be sensitive to the needs of all of the stakeholders in its business operations.” Most company’s consider corporate social responsibility to be an effective pubic relations strategy and as a result of this millions of organisations including public, private and not-for-profit have implemented these programs. An example of a company which has a corporate social responsibility program in place is National Australia Bank.

The National Australia Bank Group (NAB) introduced a CSR program several years ago and they are committed to sustainable business practices that are supported by a range of initiatives. At the National, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is about conducting the business in a transparent and ethical way that enhances value for all of our stakeholders. The organisation recognises that in order to sustain a strong relationship with all of its publics they need to reassure all of these publics that they will be open, honest, take ownership and be accountable for all of their actions, treat everyone with fairness and respect, value speed, simplicity and efficient execution of promises and expect teamwork and collaboration across the organisation in order to benefit all stakeholders. In developing their corporate strategy the NAB aimed to ensure that all people who are involved with them would be proud of this association. They have achieved this by altering the company’s corporate guidelines and improving communication channels. This includes communication through the internet, the general workplace and word of mouth. Implementing a corporate social responsibility program has been extremely advantageous to the NAB.

An effective corporate social responsibility program can have numerous advantages to a business. It will initially build a good reputation amoungst those who are employed by the company and this will result in a wide spread positive reputation amoung the businesses community. If the program continues to be effective over a longer period in time the business will have increased its own longevity and integrity as well as have generated a substantial amount of goodwill. As a result of all of this the organisation will raise a high level of credibility and most importantly revenue.

However there are some notable disadvantages of a corporate social responsibility program. Initially small organisations may find it hard to implement such a program as they are particularly expensive to establish, and they require a large amount of time and effort. It is highly important for the company to invest a large amount of time, money and effort into such a program as if they do not commit themselves to the program it may in fact have a negative impact on their organisation. The company must also ensure that when they establish such a program they must make it clear what their message is as too often their can be a miscommunication.

Corporate social responsibility has become an essential public relations practice. This is evident as is increases longevity, integrity and generates goodwill for an organisation which supports the ideas of a successful public relations strategy. Businesses worldwide have acknowledged this as and a result have implemented such programs.

References:
www.corporateresponsibility.com.au
World Business Council for Sustainable Development – www.wikipedia.org
National Australia Bank - www.nabgroup.com

Anonymous said...

Corporate Social Responsibility: Effective Public Relations Strategy or Latest Management Fad?

Tim Barnes – 20031175

Corporate social responsibility is being adopted by an increasing number of companies as a way of shedding a more positive light on the role of business in society. It is evident that companies are being forced to comply with societal values in order to keep up their appearance. Thanks largely to the media, the public’s sensitivity towards environmental and ethical issues is now greater than ever. In this sense, CSR has become an important public relations tool in the world of business.

In determining whether CSR is effective or merely a management fad, one must first define this term and also understand the motivations behind its implementation. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), CSR is ‘the commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life.’ By agreeing to implement CSR strategies, a company is agreeing to operate in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business. The main reason why companies are choosing to implement such policies is so that they appear more socially responsible, thus improving their image and profile.

An Australian company that has successfully implemented CSR programs into its infrastructure is the Westpac Banking Corporation. In 2004, it was the only company to be given a triple A rating by independent rating agency, RepuTex. Some examples of the way in which Westpac has excelled in the area of CSR include the fact that it provides an independent facility for anonymous reporting of unethical behaviour. Further to this, the bank has made a commitment to overcome barriers for special needs consumer groups. An example of this is the way in which Westpac has helped remote indigenous communities to open bank accounts for the receipt of financial entitlements. Westpac has also set up comprehensive strategies to assist low-income groups, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disabilities. All of these CSR measures have given Westpac some valuable positive publicity, which is comparable to gold for a corporation in the banking sector.

When discussing CSR, it is important to note that there are both positives and negatives associated with these programs. The benefits of CSR include the fact that it can be an important aid to recruitment and retention by building a “feel good” atmosphere among the staff. CSR can improve the reputation of a business by creating a culture of “doing the right thing”. Companies built on ethical values may gain a slight competitive edge by gaining valuable media exposure through positive contributions to the community. As a spin off to this, CSR programs can divert media attention away from any perceived negative impacts that a business may have.

Some of the pitfalls of CSR may include the fact that these programs can be quite costly to set up, in terms of time, money and effort. As well as this, companies need to ensure that their CSR programs are not at odds with their message. CSR programs must compliment a company’s business objectives. If this does not occur, it is more than likely that these programs will fail. The implications of which could be quite disastrous with the loss of credibility a distinct possibility. Businesses must be prepared to stick by CSR programs and improve them, even if they do fail the first time around.

It is evident that CSR programs can be beneficial for both business and the community at large. If CSR programs are well planned out and executed, they are without doubt an example of positive PR practice. Moving into the future, CSR will become an even more integral part of business as companies are beginning to recognise the importance of such programs. This can only be seen as good news for the community.

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