Monday, 21 February 2011

Critical Debates In Design: Task 4: Corporate Social Responsibility

There can be few in the business community who have not had to address some aspects of sustainability within the past few years. It has proved almost impossible in recent times to pick up any business publication or newspaper and not to be faced with an article addressing some aspects of corporate social responsibility. There is no doubt that many of the actions of a few major corporations have shown the worst side of commercial exploitation, whether this has been in the form of social or environmental exploitation or through manipulation leading to major financial disasters that have harmed many at all levels of society. Those factors made, CSR a vital issue in contemporary debate. Much of its currency comes from the scale and influence of the modern corporation. Therefore, in today's world some ventures are larger than many nation states. Their influence extends across the globe and their actions can determine the prosperity of communities and health of environments. The researches proves that the world's largest industrial corporations employed more than three million people in 2008. Moreover, according to those records their gross sales were over eight hundred billion dollars. In this manner, they have the power and authority, and demand the right to pursue their interests, generate wealth, innovate and change. However, great power requires great responsibility and great responsibility comes with CSR for corporations.

Thus, CSR is not a new issue. The social responsibility of business was not widely considered to be a significant problem from the time of the 18th-century Scottish social philosopher and classical economist Adam Smith to the Great Depression in the 1930s. But since 1930s and, increasingly, the 1960s, social responsibility has become "an important issue not only for business but in the theory and practice of law, politics and economics". Today we see consumers avoiding what they see -rightly or wrongly- as socially irresponsibly made products or products of companies that have allegedly not acted in society's best interest. It is inevitable that, more than ever before, companies in the private sector will be expected to behave socially responsibly. Already, many enterprises across the world have taken this as part of their business plan, however they are doing this because they feel it is good for business. Consequently, here is a research of the companies who highly criticized about their CSR policies and their new approaches.

1. Starbucks - Shared Planet Project

The Website which Starbucks set up for CSR issues,

Starbucks - the largest coffee company in the world- has been a target of protests on issues such as fair-trade policies, labor relations, environmental impact, political views, and anti-competitive practices, namely everything that the idea of corporate social responsibility stands for. However, they have been running the "Shared Planet Project" for three years which is quiet successful in contrast to the public opinion so far. Therefore, they have started their CSR projects in 1999 with  "Grounds for Your Garden" in order to present their business more environmentally friendly. Their solutions was to give leftover coffee grounds to anyone requesting it for composting. Although not all stores and regions participate, costumers can request and lobby their local store to begin the practice. Unfortunately, this project was a huge failure for a company like Starbucks. In this manner, Starbucks began reducing the size of their paper napkins, store garbage bags, and lightening this approach reduced their solid waste production by 1.8 million pounds as they indicated to the media. In 2008, Starbucks was ranked the 15th on the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's list of Top 25 Green Power Partners for purchases of renewable energy. In contrast to that image, in October 2008, The Sun newspaper reported that Starbucks was wasting 23.4 million litres of water a day by leaving a tap constantly running in each store. In response, in June 2009, to concerns over its excessive water consumption, Starbucks re-evaluated its use of the dipper well system.

I believe The Shared Planet Project is the most realistic approach that the company set up so far. As anyone can clearly observe from their website the project has eight modules which are mainly the topics that they invest as CSR issues. As an international, billion dollar coffee company, fair trade and recycle should be obviously quiet important matters for Starbucks besides their other investments such as energy and farmers loans. Thus, with their new approach, I believe that Starbucks can become an example for CSR among similar companies. With their new website which they have set up just for CSR issues, in 2009, they have announce that especially the paper cups has become a major concern among the customers due to recycling challenges. And in order to minimize their carbon footprint, they are aiming to ensure 100 percent of their cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015. And now in 2011, they claim that they have served 4.4 million beverages in reusable cups in 2010 than in 2009. As a customer, I believe in their statements and investments that Starbucks announced after all they have been through with the media and customers about CSR during the last ten years, however it is up to us to push companies like that to be more environmental friendly and sustainable, because no company will act out without enough motivation.

Websites For Extended Research
Starbucks, Official Website For UK, Available at:
Starbucks, CSR Website, Available at:
Starbucks Foundation, Available at:

2. McDonald's - Values In Practice

McDonald's poor and nonfunctional website for their inadequate CSR policies

McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving more than 58 million customers daily. The company has  32,000 stores worldwide, and  22.6 billion revenue only in US in 2008. People may expect McDonald's to be a fair sample for CSR policies when looking at the profits however they are not. In this manner, as a prominent example of the rapid globalization of the American fast food industry, McDonald's is often the target of criticism for its menu, its expansions, and its business practices. Therefore, McDonald's has been sued -in my opinion, with reason- for many times from different environmental groups like; Peta or Greenpeace about their quality of food, their way of ethical treatment to animals and their poor CSR policies since 1990. After many years with conflicts and controversies, McDonald's finally set up a team of suppliers, independent franchisees and outside experts to bring some new approaches to the unsolved subject in 2005. Thus, they claim that, in long-term, their value-based company success demands progress on their road to sustainability. In the light of their announcements, to investigate their new approach to the matter, I tried to check their website and regional and local corporate responsibility reports, however in a huge company like McDonald's most of the links of the reports were not working and the website for their CSR policies definitely needs a lot of improvement just like their point of view.

Websites For Extended Research
McDonald's, Official Website, Available at: 
McDonald's, Social Responsibility, Available at:
McDonald's, Corporate Responsibility Initiatives, Available at: 

3.Evian - Environmental Protection Commitment

Evian devoted a section at their website to sustainability and environment.
Evian is a French brand of mineral water coming from several sources. Today, the company is owned by Danone Group, a French multinational company. In April 2008, the company created the "Evian Water Protection Institute" to work on its three water and wetlands management projects. This institute will build upon the brand's original project with Ramsar, now giving it a global dimension. The Evian Water Protection Institute's first three projects will focus on the La Plata basin in Argentina, Nepal's Jagadishpur Reservoir in the heart of the Himalayas and Bung Khong Long Lake in Thailand and will help these local populations autonomously manage their water resources in sustainable fashion. Moreover, the company has also taken initiative to cut their own energy and water use by incorporating post-consumer recycled PET plastic into the bottle sizes that receive the most sales. The company has joined with Recycle Bank in an effort to get consumers to recycle. Therefore, Recycle Bank is an award-based company that gives participating households redeemable points according to the amount of materials they recycle.

Another of Evian's top priorities involves the brand's environmental impact. It has focused its efforts on reducing water and energy consumption - an area that provides an important opportunity to improve the brand's impact. Thus, it is obvious that the company is dedicated to planet's health and longevity and they shape their operations according to this manner from packaging to logistics. I find out that, their bottling plant is certificated ISO 14001, an international standard that guarantees their commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of their activities. This certification is proof that Evian has implemented all the necessary tools to continually monitor and improve their environmental performance. This ongoing approach has led to considerable progress in several areas, including improved recycling, reduced CO2 emissions and better water conservation. In my estimation, Evian can be a pretty good example with its CSR approach to other companies. As much as I expand my research about them, they convinced me about the reality of their actions on environment and sustainability.

Ramsar, Convention on Wetlands The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Ramsar, is the first of the modern global intergovernmental treaties on the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Websites For Extended Research
Evian, Official Website, Available at:
Evian CSR Policy, Available at:
Evian Group Archives, Available at: 
Wikipedia, Evian Corporate History, Available at:

All in all, this subject is directly related to the consumer motivation and their reactions to the marketing strategies. Therefore, as the public becomes aware of the negative consequences of the social irresponsibility of some businesses, so too has it become aware of good products and socially responsible activities. In parallel, business has also become equally aware of the informed consumer. Yet, still transnational corporation's could potentially play an important role in social development and consumers may buy their propaganda.

Cannon, T., 1994, Corporate Responsibility, UK: Pearson Education Ltd
Burchell, J., 2008, The Corporate Social Responsibility Reader: Context And Perspectives, US: Routledge Publishing 
Hawkins, E., 2006, Corporate Social Responsibility: Balancing Tomorrow's Sustainability And Today's Profitability, US: Palgrave Macmillan
Hopkins, M., 2003, The Planetary Bargain: Corporate Social Responsibility Matters, UK: Earthscan Publications Ltd
CRS, Official Website, Available at:, Sub Page, Press Releases, Available at:
Wikipedia, CRS, Available at:, Sub Page, CRS, Approaches, Available at:

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