Research Outline

CSR Activities at Large Corporations


To identify the top formats or approaches to CSR/Social Impact employed by large corporations. Also to present case studies of some Fortune 50/100 companies on what interesting CSR/Social Impact activities they are doing.

Early Findings

Different Approaches to CSR Activities at Large Corporations

Typically, large companies employ four approaches to CSR activities: philanthropic approach, environmental sustainability approach (programmatic approach since it involves programs the companies undertake for environmental protection), ethical approach (investment approach since it involves the companies investing in its employees and other stakeholders), and economic responsibility approach (mixed approach).

Philanthropic Approach

  • The philanthropic approach is based on the concept of serving humanity, especially the underprivileged and needy people who require the support of large companies to sustain their existence.
  • The philanthropic approach involves donating money, time, and resources to charities and NGOs at various levels: local, national, and international. The donations can be for many worthy causes like human rights, education programs, national disaster relief, clean water, sanitation, and healthcare programs.
  • One example of a company that has done a lot of philanthropic activity is Microsoft. Working together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft creates technologies to support communities around the world. The CSR activities involve supporting several causes like agricultural development, development of education, and the eradication of malaria in several countries around the world.

Environmental Sustainability Approach

  • The environmental sustainability approach to CSR involves large companies focusing on the areas of cutting down pollution, reducing greenhouse gases, and reducing the overall carbon footprint.
  • Along with the global awareness of environmental issues, large companies that take the necessary steps to reduce pollution at all levels not only benefit the society and the community but also enhance their standing as good corporate citizens.
  • One example of a company that has taken an impactful stand to reduce its carbon footprint is Cisco Systems. The company has installed photovoltaic systems at production facilities responsibility and developed remote-working platforms for its employees.

Ethical Approach

  • The ethical approach to CSR involves ensuring that all stakeholders connected to a business are treated fairly and justly, like employees, suppliers, vendors, and customers. These are self enforced initiatives undertaken by companies rather than out of any obligation.
  • Among the ethical CSR initiatives that large companies have undertaken for their employees are fair labor practices like ensuring fairer treatment of all employees, equal pay for equal work, ensuring diversity in the workplace and no discrimination of employees, ensuring decent working conditions in factories and workplaces, and better living wage compensation for employees.
  • The ethical CSR approach takes every element of the supply chain into account. CSR programs by large companies often take into account the fairer treatment of employees of its vendors and suppliers and the use of products certified as meeting fair trade standards.
  • The cosmetics company Lush has taken several ethical CSR initiatives like campaigning against animal testing, not supporting child labor, sourcing raw materials directly from producers, and placing ethics above profit.

Economic Responsibility Approach

  • The economic responsibility approach to CSR involves dedicating efforts on those practices that facilitate the long-term growth of the company. It focuses on maintaining a proper balance between philanthropic, environmental, and ethical business practices.
  • Large companies improve their operations and engage in sustainable environmental practices by striking a balance between their economic decisions and the effect on society.
  • An example of such an approach is when a company changes its manufacturing processes to include recycled products. This benefits the company by lowering its raw material costs and also benefits the society by the consumption of fewer resources.

Cast Study#1) Google and its Philanthropic Initiatives

  • Google's parent company Alphabet has been ranked at 11 in the 2020 Fortune 500 list.
  • Google does a lot of corporate philanthropic activities like running several charity programs and providing more than $100 million in donations.
  • Through a volunteer program, the employees of Google can dedicate 20 hours of volunteering work in their communities every year.
  • Google also has a matching gift program through which Google matches donations made by its employees in the range of $50 to $12,000 to various charities and NGOs in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Google provides economic empowerment to businesses in underrepresented communities by supporting digital skills training. It also supports the technological and innovation initiatives of companies to solve various societal and environmental challenges.
  • Through its Learning Equality program, Google support organizations that are working towards equitable access to quality learning materials, digital responsibility resources, and computer science education for disadvantaged communities in Africa, India, and Latin America.