Thursday, 3 April 2014

Business with a "Human-Touch"


          Dictionaries describe corporate social responsibility as “The idea that a company should be interested in and willing to help society and the environment as well as be concerned about the products and profits it makes”. It can also be described as doing business in such a way where questions of morality and ethics are raised. In layman terms, the responsibility of a business towards its stakeholders is called corporate social responsibility. Many labels have been given to this concept such as green business, corporate conscious, sustainable responsible business or business ethics. This essay will illustrate how and why companies are becoming more aware of business ethics with a case study on The Coca-Cola Company ©.








          The world is turning into a digitally connected, health conscious and spiritual area to live in. In this new evolving environment of the world, corporate social responsibility has become the major theme of institutional reform. Customer of today is more aware of the problems of the world than he/she ever was. It appears from a research undertaken by Wilson (as cited in Needles, 2010), he portrays that even in a low economic environment, there still are customers who prefer products and services which are environment friendly and came from an ethical origin. CSR has also become a major aspect of syllabus in business schools. The old norms businesses used to follow are not fit for this environment. Customers of today want these companies to be green towards their environment and morally upright. Many large companies today proudly refer to themselves as socially responsible. Every business is trying to infuse CSR into its corporate structure. This amendment into the structure of a corporation works as self-regulating mechanism that ensures active compliance with ethical standards and the law. Porter and Kramer (2006) argued that the corporations which do business in a society have “shared value” and it is very essential for companies to return to community from which they are generating profit. “... (CSR) obligation is seen to extend beyond their statutory obligation to comply with legislation (license to operate) to a matter of reputation (brand image), moral obligation (ethics), and sustainability” (Asongu, 2007). These arguments stated by ethics, gives rise to the fact that the image of the company or stakeholder’s perception is becoming increasingly essential for a business’s survival. With this new atmosphere, major establishments like The Coca-Cola Company had to become serious about CSR.

          Coca-Cola was first discovered in 1886 by John Pembeton in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the world’s major manufacturers of non-alcoholic beverage. It is still based in Atlanta, USA with more than 700,000 employees working for it worldwide. Coca-Cola enterprise also produces and distributes some products for other brands such as Capri-sun, Fruitiser, Monster energy drinks and peartiser. All their drinks come in different packaging which range from plastic bottles to aluminum cans. The size of the corporation can be estimated by the fact that it sold around 2.02bn liters of ready-to-drink soft drinks just in the UK in the year 2012 (Coca-Cola, 2014).

          The first act of the company’s social responsibility can be traced back to 1980s which is known as the era of headbands, joggers and fitness consciousness. In 1981, Due to fitness craze which was all around, Coca-Cola introduced a new drink into the market called the Diet Coke. Since then, Significant investment of money, time and energy is being put by the company into CSR to create an environmental friendly image of in the sight of the world. In 2007 Coca-Cola established its Green business framework known as “Live Positively”. It was infused in the corporation at all degrees. From production, then packaging and to distribution of their products, responsibility was goaled to achieve. Live Positively targets seven major areas where the company tries to achieve itself measurable goals to be as socially responsible as they can. The core areas of Live Positively program as listed at Coca-Cola (2014) are beverage benefits, active healthy living, the community, energy and climate, sustainable packaging, water stewardship and the workplace.

          One of their major projects in achieving those targets are taking steps in cutting down carbon emissions from their manufacturing sites, upgrading the cold-drink equipment with energy saving technology and increasing the use of renewable or low carbon sources. Coca-Cola (2014) proudly claims that in London 2012 Games, carbon footprint of the distribution system was taken down by one-third and 100% HFC-Free coolers were used. Production and recycling of bottles is also a major area to invest if a company wants to be green. It is also a key project of the beverage company as the official site claims to set the standard in sustainable packaging accommodating reusable materials such as “PlantBottle” (ibid).

          Companies are trying to be as responsible as they can because their mere survival depends upon it. In fact, corporations of today proudly claim to be eco-friendly and ethical because it creates a better image of the company in the eyes of its customers which leads to a sustaining structure for the business on the long run. Researches have shown such actions create even more profits in ways no one have imagined. Porter (2013) in his Ted Talk labels this idea as “Shared Value”. This means businesses generate more money by being socially responsible. This is exactly why CSR is the hot topic and this is why companies are becoming more ethical in doing business than they ever were.



References

Asongu, J. J. (2007). Strategic corporate social responsibility in practice. Lawrenceville, USA: Greenview Publishing Company
Cambridge University Press. (2014) Cambridge dictionaries online. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/business-english/corporate-social-responsibility?q=corporate+social+responsibility
Coca Cola. (2014). Corporate responsibility and sustainability review. Retrieved from Coca-Cola official site http://www.coca-cola.co.UK/about-us/corporate-responsibility/
Coca Cola. (2014). History of Coca-Cola. Retrieved from Coca-Cola official site http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/about-us/history-of-coca-cola-company.html
Needle, D. (2010). Business in context: An introduction to business and its environment. Hampshire, United Kingdom: Cengage Learning EMEA
Porter, M. (2013). Why business can be good at solving social problems. TEDglobal 2013. Video retrieved from the URL: http://new.ted.com/talks/michael_porter_why_business_can_be_good_at_solving_social_problems
Porter, M. E., Kramer, M. R. (2006). Harvard Business review: Strategy & society. Accessed from the URL: http://www.efnorthamerica.com/documents/events/ccc2008/Mark-Kramer-Keynote/Strategy-society.pdf