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Business Articles: Social Responsabilities

Manycompanies these days are choosing to make an explicit commitment to corporate social responsibility in their mission, vision and values statements. Such statements frequently extend beyond profit maximization to include an acknowledgement of a company's responsibilities to a broad range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities and the environment. This strategy, by which a company's core values -- indpendent of specific strategic goals --serve as the guiding force in dtermining a company's mission and vision, as well as its day-to-day policies and practices, is often described as a "values-based business approach."

Business for Social Responsibility

This approach is best portrayed by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR): www.bsr.org, which is a membership organization for companies seeking to sustain their commercial success in ways that demonstrate respect for ethical values, people, communities, and the environment.
Its sister organization, the Business for Social Responsibility Education Fund (BSREF), is a non-profit charitable organization serving the broader business community and the general public through research and education programs.
The BSR site has been organized into ten core topic areas, each of which has several subtopics very useful for research. For each topic and subtopic (e,g, Business Ethics, Community Involvement, Environment, Human Rights, etc...there are over 100) there is an introduction, examples of large and small company leadership practices, sample company policies, award and recognition programs, links to helping resources, and other information. They also provide an illustrative list of links for information or support that is relevant to companies, and are national or international in scope (e.g. Institute for Global Ethics, Gulf Centre for Excellence in Ethics, European Institute for Business Ethics, The Conference Board, etc.).

To complement this type of service also take a look at the Caux Round Table (CRT) at: www.cauxroundtable.org. The Craux Round Table is a group of senior business leaders from Europe, Japan and North America who are committed to the promotion of principled business leadership. The CRT believes that business has a crucial role in identifying and promoting sustainable and equitable solutions to key global issues affecting the physical, social and economic environments. To that end they provide Global, Regional and National Dialogues, and publish Position Papers on key global issues. They are intent on compiling evidence of worldwide best practices and stories of application of Principles for Business. These Principles are published in 11 major languages.

Society for Business Ethics

A particularly useful web site is offered by Loyola University of Chicago (www.luc.edu) which helps support the Society for Business Ethics (SBE) www.luc.edu/depts/business/sbe/. The SBE is an international organization (non-affiliated) of scholars engaged in the academic study of business ethics. The journal Business Ethics Quarterly (BEQ) is published by the Society. A particularly useful tool at the web site is the "Ethics Links" which provides approximately 20 links to universities and institutions (e.g. Ethics Resource Center, Wharton Ethics Program, International Business Ethics Institute, etc.) which offer information on business ethics.

Unfortunately, the periodical is only available by institutional subscription, so check your library.

Another useful academic publication: Business Ethics: Corporate Social Responsibility Report at: www.business-ethics.com, is published by The Institute for Business and Professional Ethics at DePaul University (www.depaul.edu/ethics/) and provides some very useful services, for example, providing articles with the permission of the Chicago Sun Times which deals with ethics.

International Business Ethics Institute. International Business Ethics Review

The International Business Ethics Institute (http://business-ethics.org) was founded in response to the growing need for transnationalism in the field of business ethics (it is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in Europe and Latin America). The Institute promotes corporate responsibility through two key program areas. First, it works to increase public awareness and dialogue about international business ethics issues through such educational resources and activities as the the Roundtable Discussion Series, the International Business Ethics Review (a quarterly publication), and the Institute's multilingual web site.

One other source you may want to touch base with is the Ethics Resource Center at: www.ethics.org, the work of which promotes concepts of business and organizational ethics and positive advocacy through publications, lectures and training. These products and services are available not only to the Ethics Resource Center's stakeholders but also to the public at large. The ERC has a very commendable International Program for promoting ethical projects
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