Corporate social responsibility, sustainability and positive environmental impact are well-known concepts within the energy efficiency sector. Companies such as ours are dedicated to innovating, improving the energy performance and educating other businesses. We hold valuable data to illustrate Corporate Social Irresponsibility and call for Human Social Responsibility.
Our Experience – 87% of companies make an informed decision not to invest in energy efficiency technology.
In explaining this figure, the businesses that decide not to invest in energy efficiency have all received a survey of their premises and a proposal that outlines savings they would start making right after the installation. They understand the financial and environmental benefits, yet take no action, excusing their negligence with low priority. Out of our prequalified presentation meetings only 1 in 30 companies take action to lower their carbon emissions. When you consider that on average we save our customers around £10,000 per annum per site and cut 40% of their carbon emissions from their heating*, these figures are even more baffling.
*Figures calculated over the period 06/2016-08/2016, correct as of 18 January 2017.
Corporate Social Irresponsibility Vs Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR for short, often focuses on the expectation of responsible behaviour but one of the lesser-known terms – corporate social irresponsibility (CSI and/or CSIR) is a business practice that is much more prevalent. Research on human perception shows a significant correlation between the cognitive processing observers do in response to negative (or adverse or threatening) events and the cognitive processing they do in response to positive events (Johnes, Bowd and Tench, 2009). Corporations that have recently being exposed about their misconducts such as BP, Volkswagen and Sports Direct have shown us that trying to rebuild a good reputation as a responsible business can be almost impossible once the irresponsibility has become part of their identity.
Lange and Washburn (2012) describe Corporate Social Irresponsibility as the opposite to CSR. Corporate social irresponsibility emerges when a business 1) goes against norms 2) is immoral, 3) represents a threat to any of its stakeholders, 4) has done something that has previously perceived as ‘bad’, 5) has an adverse impact on parties that are seen as helpless victims in relation to the negative cause and/or 6) is purely profit orientated.
CSI can lead to CSR
It is agreed that CSI poses a financial liability to businesses and many companies seek to minimise their irresponsible practices by compensating with CSR, such a relationship is implied by the conceptualisation of corporate social performance in Heal (2005) and Baron (2001, 2003).
When identifying irresponsible behaviour, we create the foundations for a CSR policy. Company practicing CSI approach “…views Environmental degradation and pollution as inevitable and little if anything can or should be done.” However, a socially responsible one would “…act as Environmental degradation and pollution are not inevitable, should not be tolerated and it is important to raise awareness and commit to action.” Jones, Bowd and Tench continue that CSI business defines “…sustainability only as business survival”, where company with a strong CSR would define it in terms of “…environmental, community survival and mutual growth.” These extremely different approaches appear to be a representation of the competing realities of the current times.
The Move to Human Social Responsibility
Many smaller companies have never seen the need to invest time nor resources into developing their CSR strategy, using the attitude that they are not corporations and therefore their impact on the environment is much smaller than their larger, faceless brothers. Although, looking at the national figures – there are 5.5 million private sector businesses in the UK (accurate as of 2016), of which 99% are SMEs and 60% of all workers in the private sector work in them. These figures are a great example of how small changes have the potential to make a big difference.
The good news is that there has been discussion about CSR evolving into Human Social Responsibility in the future (Hutcsisson, 2016). This could mean that the companies need not to be vast to do good, they don’t need to give money away to be perceived as being socially responsible. They do, however, have to support their own people. We all have a social role, a personality with its multitude of roles and responsibilities and when we bring it to our workplace we make a psychological contract. This contract should allow us to remain ourselves – act how we believe is right and do good where we want to see a difference being made.
By doing the right thing, you would still need to observe the compliance obligations, laws and legislations, be morally and ethically correct. But thereafter comes the freedom to think on your feet:
Is wasting energy ok? Are environmentally destructive practices the right approach? Is this socially irresponsible company what I want to be associated with?
Good things come from people who know what should be done differently. They have often experienced the wrongdoing first hand and therefore have all the rights to start making changes around them.
Make just one change?
Imagine if you made just one change that would financially and environmentally benefit your company today. Imagine if you could improve employee well-being, help change wasteful behaviour and that it would be seen as, quite simply, the right thing to do.
Our cleantech is based on our ‘Use Less’ philosophy. We work hard to deliver promised savings to companies that have prioritised their environmental performance and we encourage them to take social responsibility by increasing the efficiency of their energy usage. They want to put a stop to unethical wasting and have a positive impact on their employee psychological contracts, health and environment.
Corporate Social Irresponsibility might not be a choice, but choosing to be a socially responsible human is. If you are not in a position to make decisions directly or on your company’s behalf, you should do more on a personal level. Do not underestimate the influence of your individual impact. Do more of what is good!
Baron, D. P., 2001, “Private Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Integrated Strategy,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 10, 7-45.
Baron, D. P., 2003, “Private Politics,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 21, 31-66.
Baron, D. P., and D Diermeier 2007, “Strategic Activism and Nonmarket Strategy,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 16, 599-634.
Baron, D. P., M. A. Harjoto, and H. Jo, 2009, “The Economics and Politics of Corporate Social Performance,” Working paper. Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Heal, G., 2005, “Corporate Social Responsibility: an Economic and Financial Framework,” The Geneva Papers, 30, 387-409.
Heal, G., 2008, When Principles Pay: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Bottom Line, New York: Columbia University Press.
Hutchisson, R., 2016, VP of Corporate Citizenship & Philantrophy at Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), TedEx Conference.
Jones, B., Bowd, R. and Tench, R., 2012, “Corporate irresponsibility and corporate social responsibility: competing realities,” Social Responsibility Journal: VOL. 5 NO. 3 2009, 300-310, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Lange, D. and Washburn, N. T., 2012, “Understanding attributions of corporate social irresponsibility,” Academy of Management Review: Vol. 37, No. 2, 300–326.
Kotchen, M. and Moon, J. J.,2012, “Corporate Social Responsibility for Irresponsibility,” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy: Vol. 12: Iss. 1 (Contributions), Article 55.