Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Companies and People

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Social responsibility is the belief that businesses have an obligation to balance profit-making practices with activities that benefit their community. This is also referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR). Sustainability is the ability to supply necessities for the population without compromising the availability of the resources for those in the future. Throughout this essay, the popularity of sustainability and social responsibility in corporate companies will be examined and explained. In addition, the demographics, including race and religion, of CSR will be analyzed.

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As companies continue to grow and develop in the Age of Climate Change, many companies have made it a priority to direct their efforts toward sustainability and CSR. In fact, according to a 2011 study by MIT, CSR is on the agendas of 70% of corporate companies. Businesses can display sustainability in many ways, including: philanthropy, promoting volunteering, limiting their carbon footprint and waste, and sourcing their ingredients from responsible businesses. CSR can also be exhibited through fair treatment of employees, such as offering fair wages.

How do these companies obtain their earnings while also staying true to their commitments to sustainability? Well, the answer there lies with consumers. Studies and surveys have concluded that customers are more likely to support socially responsible companies. A study by Cone Communications employing data from as far back as 1993, revealed that 87% of consumers responded that they’d purchase a product if a company supported an issue important to them while at least 75% would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company neglected their causes.

Companies that Display Sustainability/ CPR

IKEA is a Swedish furniture supply chain that prides itself on its commitment to sustainability. About 50% of its wood originates from sustainable foresters and 100% of their cotton is grown using reduced amounts of water, energy and chemical fertilizers/ pesticides. In addition, IKEA’s stores are powered by over 700,000 solar panels, and they have plans to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020.

After attaining 100% renewable energy in 2017, Google has become the world’s largest corporate consumer of renewable energy. In addition, Google dedicates a portion of their profits to philanthropy, encourages green commuting, and offers competitive salaries and benefits for their employees.

Levi Strauss has been making jeans since 1873. Recently, the company vowed to reduce the amount of water used in the production of their jeans. Since 2011, the business has conserved over 1 billion liters of water. Levi Strauss has also worked to reduce their carbon footprint, and they have a campaign to raise awareness and serve those living as HIV/ AIDS positive.

Last but not least, we have Microsoft. They created Microsoft Philanthropes, a non-profit that donates money toward the spread of computer knowledge. As of 2017, the company had donated over $1.6 billion toward charities around the world, and they hope to achieve $2 billion by 2020. In addition to philanthropy, the company’s employees have volunteered a combined total of over 5 million hours.

Consumer Choices

When it comes down to it, the free market revolves around the consumer and their wants. Well, consumers want companies they support to make sustainability and CSR a priority. As mentioned earlier, most consumers (87%) are more likely to buy products from companies that align with their beliefs. In addition, the Nielsen group conducted a survey finding that 50% of global consumers would be willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies while 57% would be willing to buy a product of lesser quality if they knew they were supporting socially responsible companies.

According to a study conducted in 2015 by Cone Communications, 90% of consumers advocate that corporations have a responsibility to their environment that is just as important as making a profit. In fact, 84% of people worldwide responded that they purchase from sustainable companies as often as possible. Furthermore, 81% of consumers replied that they would be willing to reduce their consumption of products to boost the environment, and 80% said they would purchase from an unknown brand if it was certified as socially responsible. Thus, all research indicates that the key to the consumer’s heart is sustainability and CSR.

Religions: Christianity and Islam

As stewards of the Earth, Christians, particularly the Roman Catholics, support sustainability and CSR because they have a responsibility toward God to take care of the land He created for them. Their holy book, the Bible, states that “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the lord dwell in the midst of the people (Numbers 35: 33-34).

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has advocated for sustainability among Christians. He is quoted as saying, “Respect for the human being and respect for nature are one and the same” and he often draws upon the saying, “La cura della casa commune which roughly translates to “the care of the common home. Thus, Christians are likely to support sustainable and socially responsible companies.

Drawing upon the same beliefs as Christians, Muslims also believe they have a duty to their god, Allah, to protect and respect His ground. Their holy book, the Qur’an, mentions, “and the sky has He raised high, and has devised a balance, so that you might never transgress the balance: weigh, therefore with equity, and do not upset the balance (55:7-9). As stated in the text, the balance Allah created must never be offset, and thus, Muslims are advocates for environmentally friendly corporations.

Ethnicities: Hispanics and African Americans

According to the 2010 Yankelovich Monitor Multicultural Study, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to support sustainable and socially responsible companies compared to their white counterparts. The data confirms that 1/3 of Hispanics and African American consumers opt for brands whose beliefs align with theirs, as opposed to 1/5 of non-Hispanic white consumers. Furthermore, 79% of Hispanics and 84% of African-Americans surveyed agreed with the statement “companies that make sincere efforts to be part of the Hispanic/African-American community deserve my loyalty.

Closing Remarks

In conclusion, sustainability and corporate social responsibility are two issues that are growing in relevance throughout the free market. It is in all interests, companies, consumers, and world citizens, for corporations to be both sustainable and socially responsible, and companies who do not make those commitments should be prepared to suffer backlash from their customers. To close with a quote from researcher Jane Goodall, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

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Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Companies and People. (2019, Jan 22). Retrieved from