Sample Business Research Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility: New Fields to Address CSR read more

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Business writing is a prominent part of studying business since it provides students with knowledge and insight into business concepts, strategies, and important case studies. Business papers often take the form of a research paper such as this sample. Such a paper provides explanations, analysis, and evidence related to the topic.

Recent developments in geopolitics, technology, and international economic policies have greatly increased the ease of doing business both nationally and internationally. The Chinese economic reform began by Deng Xiaoping, for instance, opened up China to the world and turned the once largely agricultural country to a manufacturing and technological giant. China’s rise as an economic powerhouse, of course, is just one manifestation of improved business processes. There are many others such as the rise of new markets and emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and South America. One important trend, however, is the growth in prominence of corporate social responsibility or CSR. As the devastating effects of globalization, corporate greed, and unchecked capitalism on societies and the environment become more apparent, many companies have turned to corporate social responsibility to minimize their negative impacts and actively address pressing social and environmental issues. While CSR initiatives have been expanding, there remain many areas that companies are yet to plant a foothold and explore. Some of the more popular CSR initiatives include green technology, sustainable and ethical supply chain, promotion of equal rights especially for historically marginalized groups, and community service. While it may be true that these areas are yet to be saturated and there is no end to the need for philanthropy and good corporate governance, there are also other areas that companies can explore today. Some of the new areas for corporate social responsibility include pandemic mitigation, college debt programs, and ecological conservation.

Pandemic Mitigation

One of the areas that merit exploration for corporate social responsibility initiatives is pandemic mitigation. Infection is one of society’s oldest and most formidable adversaries, having caused more deaths than any other in history. While people have done an outstanding job at battling diseases, the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019 gave rise to a host of new challenges to the global community. Due to its virulence and high case fatality rate, COVID-19 forced countries across the globe to take drastic measures to curtail its spread including closing borders, implementing lockdowns, and ramping up healthcare services and scientific research (Pak et al., 2020). Needless to say, the pandemic’s impact on the global economy and supply chain forced countless companies to stop or alter business operations. The development of COVID-19 vaccines has nevertheless allowed businesses to partially resume operations, thus allowing companies to slowly rebuild and recoup their losses (Fernandez-Cerezo et al., 2021). But while it is true that the economic situation is gradually recovering, developments in the past two years have revealed just how vulnerable employees are in the face of pivotal events like the pandemic.

The current coronavirus crisis is the largest pandemic since the Spanish Flu in 1918 and its impact on employees has been massive. Millions of people instantly lost their jobs while countless others have been forced to work from home. Workers also have been enduring the stress brought by job insecurity as companies downsize or shut down. Many scholars and critics of unfettered capitalism have rightly pointed out that these problems are not merely due to the pandemic but are the result of unethical business practices and the lack of protection from public policies (Kramer, 2020). In other words, employees have always received the short end of the stick; the pandemic simply uncovered just how exploited workers are. In light of this issue, it is obvious that companies have a great deal more to do in order to ensure the welfare of workers, especially since it appears the pandemic is still far from getting fully resolved. For this reason, pandemic mitigation can be rightly regarded as an entirely new area for CSR. Companies can launch programs intended to safeguard their workforce. Some specific programs include easing access to vaccines for employees, promoting flexible working arrangements, and stronger benefits and healthcare coverage. Being proactive in strengthening employees’ safety net well beyond pre-pandemic levels will undoubtedly be one of the most important areas for CSR in the years to come.

Student Loan Assistance

Another area that companies can explore when it comes to corporate social responsibility is helping employees pay off student loans. The cost of college has been skyrocketing for decades, resulting in more students leaving college or graduating with massive debts nipping at their heels. According to recent student loan statistics, the average student debt today stands at around $37,700. The debt is even higher for students who go to private schools, with the average debt standing at $55,000 (Hanson, 2021). The crippling weight of these loans, in turn, has made it extremely difficult for young employees to cope during the first years of employment. Instead of spending these early years on building their career, such employees are hampered by their financial obligations. Important life decisions such as purchasing a home and starting a family are also pushed back. The stress and anxiety coming from the struggle of paying off loans have repercussions like lowered health status and decreased productivity.

Multiplied by the sheer number of new employees entering the workforce every year, stress caused by student debt is a massive productivity issue for companies. It makes sense, therefore, to consider the plight of new employees contending with debt as a new CSR area worthy of being explored. In his report for the Harvard Business Review, Fenton (2021) makes a great case for why companies should help their employees pay student debts. Central to his argument is the fact that debt-free employees are happier, more satisfied, and therefore more productive (Fenton, 2021). Apart from being the ethical thing to do and good for productivity levels, helping employees with their debts is also a great strategy for managing talent in the long run. Companies known to have a tradition of helping out their workers are more likely to attract new talents. Employees who also see themselves as valued members of the organization are less likely to look for employment elsewhere. Overall, it is a win-win situation for both companies and their workers. Strategies that bring value to all stakeholders involved are at the heart of true corporate social responsibility.

Ecological Conservation and Climate Change

Another area for corporate social responsibility is ecological conservation and climate change. It may seem that this area for CSR is neither new nor in need of new programs. After all, environmental issues have been receiving the most attention and coverage for decades now. But contrary to the assumption that this area is saturated, the reality is that the corporate world has not been doing enough to address environmental and climate change issues. Scholars and scientists have rightly argued that however innovative and expansive efforts may be, they are simply not enough to counter the effects of environmental degradation (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, n.d.). There is clearly more to be done. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Given the massiveness of the undertaking concerning environmental degradation and climate change, this area can be considered as one of the most, if not the most, important areas for CSR. Companies can and should do all in their capacity to help. Some may argue that businesses perform CSR best in areas related to their industry, and to some extent this is true. Starbucks, for instance, has focused on ethical supply chain for their coffee while H&M has concentrated on garment and labor issues. It is crucial to note, however, that businesses do not need to be in the ecological or energy industry to make a difference. Philanthropy and partnerships with non-government organizations are just some of the ways by which companies can channel value towards this area.

Conclusion

Corporate social responsibility is not just a buzzword that companies use to stay relevant or appear updated. Neither is it merely a tool designed to bolster image and reputation. Corporate social responsibility is a serious undertaking that has far-reaching consequences for companies and other stakeholders. While CSR activities have been gaining momentum, much more needs to be done. Three areas that business can explore are pandemic mitigation, student loans, and ecological conservation and climate change. Launching CSR initiatives in these areas brings value to companies, whether in the form of happier and more productive workers or a more secure future. These areas represent new fields that companies can benefit not just for the sake of their stakeholders but for their own survival and sustainability.

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References

Fernandez-Cereza, A., Gonzalez, B., Izquierdo, M., and Moral-Benito, E. (2021, August 26). Heterogeneous firm-level impact of Covid-19 and the role of vaccine developments in recovery expectations. Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://voxeu.org/article/impact-covid-19-firms-and-role-vaccines-recovery-expectations

Fenlon, M. (2021). Companies can—and should—help employees pay student loans. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/03/companies-can-and-should-help-employees-pay-student-loans

Hanson, M. (2021, July 10). Average student loan debt. Education Data. https://educationdata.org/average-student-loan-debt

Kramer, M. (2020). Coronavirus is putting corporate social responsibility to the test. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/04/coronavirus-is-putting-corporate-social-responsibility-to-the-test

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (n.d.). Climate change mitigation: We must do more. OECD. https://www.oecd.org/environment/climate-change-mitigation-we-must-do-more.htm

Pak, A., Adegboye, O. A., Adekunle, A. I., Rahman, K. M., McBryde, E. S., and Eisen, D. P. (2020). Economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak: The need for epidemic preparedness. Frontiers in Public Health, 8(241). doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00241

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