In our work as corporate social responsibility consultants, we find that many of our clients ask the same questions. They want to know: How can my company be more socially responsible? What is the triple bottom line? Is social entrepreneurship the same thing as corporate social responsibility? Then there is the huge question: What is the definition of corporate social responsibility? Companies cannot practice something if they do not know what it is!
Here are the answers to these big questions in order. There will not be a quiz, but you may want to file this information away to use in growing your own company.
- How can my company be more socially responsible? There are lots of ways. Basically, a company can start by building sustainability into everything it does. Giving back to employees, in the form of better benefits, recognition, or increased opportunity, creates a more sustainable workforce.
- Is social entrepreneurship the same thing as corporate social responsibility? The two terms are closely related, but they are not the same. Social entrepreneurship is when a company focuses on solving a problem in the community or society. Corporate social responsibility is more of an ideal or business model.
- What is the definition of corporate social responsibility? It means companies must be aware of the effect they are having on their stakeholders, the environment, and society. A company can practice corporate social responsibility without its founders being social entrepreneurs. Many for profit companies practice corporate social responsibility. They balance the need to make a profit for stakeholders with guiding principles of sustainability.
One company doing a fine job of balancing corporate social responsibility with social entrepreneurship is d.light. This company is on a mission to provide energy for people all over the world. They started with providing LED lights to energy-poor areas in Africa and India. In these areas, people often have to use kerosene lamps to light their homes. Kerosene lamps are a serious fire hazard, especially in homes that may be made from found materials. D.light initially sold over 6 million of their solar powered LED units at a reduced price.
More recently, d.light has branched out into providing solar power. Solar power can enable many low-income families to have a stable source of energy for lighting their homes and powering appliances. Perhaps the most innovative part of d.light’s mission is in how homeowners pay for the solar power equipment installed in their homes. D.light offers pay-as-you-go programs for these families. There are also top up cards in some areas. Top up cards are similar to the prepaid cell phone cards people already use in much of Africa. D.light also offers micro loans and savings groups to help people pay for solar power. D.light has found a great deal of success in using payment and billing methods that customers are already used to using.
What is the definition of corporate social responsibility? It is a company’s obligation to be mindful of the effect it has on its stakeholders, the environment, and society. D.light is one of many social enterprise companies that are solving problems throughout the world by practicing corporate social responsibility.
The villagers use kerosene lamps to light up their homes. With innovation, the villagers can now use the d.Light A1, which is an easy-to-use, inexpensive solar light.
Don Tice, Chairman and CEO of d.light, talks about how the company started and the benefits it does for people without electricity.