For years, big banks and financially driven businesses have been negatively criticized for their lack of commitment to the communities and neighborhoods around them. These criticisms have even extended to the social responsibility aspect and the impact that they should be making day-in and day-out of their offices.
With that being said, we first need to explore why corporate social responsibility is required at these businesses and organizations. When we discuss social responsibility, especially on the level of money-driven firms, the public tends to focus on the ethical and economical aspects of this issue. However, with a variety of different elements within the definition of corporate social responsibility, the intended message and act of philanthropy is often lost in translation. Why? The answer is simple. Corporate social responsibility is relatively a vague definition. This in turn results into a multitude acts from donating to charity to holding events within the communities around them. Regardless of what the act is, businesses and organizations seem to have a misunderstanding at what is expected of them.
To clarify this definition, we need to understand that corporate philanthropy is not corporate responsibility. Many times, people swap these two entities as if they are synonymous with one another. While they are similar, the concept itself is very different. Corporate philanthropy is, in itself, an entity of corporate social responsibility. It is the act and engagement where companies and their employees contribute to nonprofit organizations through programs, mentorships, and noteworthy charities. In comparison, corporate social responsibility, as defined by Wikipedia, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a specific business model. To put it in more laymen terms, corporate social responsibility refers to a business practice that involves employees, specifically within the private sector, participating in initiatives that benefit society. This can encompass the act of corporate philanthropy where a business or organization is donating money or time to charity or human advancement like the projects and works found with Elon Musk. Whatever is the case, corporate social responsibility initiatives are meant for corporations to go above and beyond in impacting and transforming the environment and social wellbeing of the public.
So the main question we should ask is: How should corporate social responsibility be initiated with large companies?
With big banks and large corporations, it is clear that they have an immense amount of power and entities within their prospective fields. For good or for worst, these corporations have enormously impacted their communities and environments around them. This can be either on a monetary scale, such as the financial growth through community purchase, or on a personal impact, such as removing a group of people to build up shop for their company. Whatever is the case, these industries need to be well aware of the effects they are having on the public, even if their intentions were good.
So what can they do to help the public?
Unless their work is meant to improve the betterment of mankind, large businesses should look into engaging in various corporate philanthropy acts. These altruistic and ethical acts can shed light on a dark legacy that has hovered over field for years. Certain acts that companies can engage in can be the following:
- Loan Grant Programs
- Many corporations operate various grant programs for local nonprofit organizations. This can range from small financial gifts to local businesses to educational scholarships to students. Whatever is the case, these local grant programs allow companies to target a specific need for their communities.
- Donating Resources to Communities or Schools
- For many communities and schools, there has been a large outcry for new and functional resources. That being said, many corporations can donate their office supplies such as pens, pencils, papers, notebooks, or even computers to local school systems or libraries.
- Corporate Volunteerism
- Many organizations have several partnerships with afterschool programs or nonprofit organizations where their employees can volunteer their time to help aid the community. This can be beautification projects, tutoring, mentoring, or even the standard community service projects.
- Issued-Oriented Philanthropy
- Some companies are committed in working with specific philanthropy effort issues such as education, domestic violence, or hunger. If your company is involved in any of these organizations, talk to your employers and see what you can do to get involved.
- Charity Donations
- Similar to issued-oriented philanthropy, many companies and business firms are already partnered with specific nonprofit organizations. While time may be money, you as an individual can still impact your community on a financial level. Talk to your employer about any organizations they are involved with to donate to charity. If there is not one, try and find some on your own. You’ll be surprised by how many people at the workplace are eager to giving back to the public like you are.
At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves that businesses like these are at a status of privilege. While they are busy with their own intrinsic goals, they need to understand that there is a world outside of their office. For philanthropy, the act is not about money. It is about the understanding and tolerance about caring for those that need our help. We as a society need to reconcile the misunderstanding and redefine our relationships between the private sector and the community. Only then will we be able to see the transitive change we want for our world.