Corporate Social Responsibility, which is sometimes referred to as ‘conscientious dealing’, is a commercial self-regulation model where businesses extent free-will services to the communities around them. Its policies act as a regulatory mechanism whereby a business ensures its activities comply with the ethical standards, the law, and international or national governing norms (McWilliams, 2000). However, this extent of service is only possible when businesses uphold the Triple Bottom Line notion. As the paper argues, the implication is that it is not enough for multinational companies to observe corporate social responsibility without the intervention of a Triple Bottom Line company whose agenda is to help them in upholding the fundamental principle of measuring their ethical, social, and environmental impacts on the society.
Application of Corporate Social Responsibility and Triple Line Concept
Corporate social responsibility is a sustainable development concept that focuses on addressing corporate behavior and the environmental strategy techniques that are used to grow a company’s image, its profits, and the effects it has on an environment. The theory of corporate social responsibility emphasizes the responsibility of not only making profits but also channeling part of the proceeds to benefit society. It ensures profitability while considering societal welfare.
On the other hand, the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) focuses on the public, proceeds, and the planet, or in other words the 3ps. It holds that any business success should be measured by the 3ps. Businesses’ performance can be gauges based on their commitment to their stakeholders, the environment, and their economic gains/profits. According to Henriques and Richardson (2004), the TBL notion argues that there is more to business than making money and income. The holistic approach sees the planet, populace, and productivity (3ps) as equal concepts of a business (Norman & MacDonald, 2004). This mission has become very popular to the extent of being heeded by many big companies such as Nike and Tesco and small companies such as ‘The Honest Co.’
According to Tang, Gallagher, and Bie (2015), CSR is involved with four responsibilities. Its economic responsibility ensures that the company is making profits. In today’s business world, any business that does not make profits is doomed to fail. Its legal responsibility ensures adherence to rules and regulations. Responsible businesses accept laws and regulations as social concepts that enable them to make efforts to follow the set guidelines as a sign of good faith. Its ethical responsibility ensures that companies uphold what is acceptable, even when the spirit and the law do not apply to the situation. Business organizations should adhere to and live just like the members of the society. The philanthropic responsibility ensures that organizations support the societies’ projects. This responsibility requires an organization to stem its businesses from generosity towards a community.
Like the CSR, the Triple Bottom Line notion works under the assumption that a business organization is a part of a moral community and that all corporate bodies have a social liability. However, unlike CSR, the TBL works on sustainability by requiring all businesses to weigh their actions on three scales, namely, monetary, ecological, and collective sustainability. The reasoning supported by this tripartite theory is that if organizations calculate their business profits and losses using the TBL theory, they are likely to make business decisions that will benefit both the company and the community. While CSR makes its decisions by comparing the expected costs and benefits, the TBL concept requires a business decision to benefit the community no matter the dimensions involved. Another major difference between corporate social responsibility and TBL is the cultural aspect.
CSR is believed to be more American while TBL is European. The American business sector encourages economic growth and progress. The US business people tend to be more comfortable and optimistic about change. They are more interested in business and world transformation. Ethically, they hope to transform and maximize societal improvement. However, Europeans are more accustomed to business (economic decline). Their inclination is cemented in slow business development and keeping business activities the same for as long as possible. This outlook is suited for sustainability as its guiding value (Hubbard, 2009).
Distributive Justice and the Current Distribution of Wealth
Justice distribution is concerned with the fair allocation of resources among members of a community. Fair resource allocation takes into account the total number of goods to be distributed, the procedure used, the distribution pattern, and the anticipated results. Distributive justice can be defined as the manner in which the burdens and the reimbursements of people’s lives are shared among the members of society. Its principles ensure that these loads and paybacks are disseminated and/or shared. Assets are supposed to be distributed in a reasonable way to ensure that every member of the community receives his or her fair share.
However, this strategy leaves the question of the definition of “fair share”. Several principles are applied to this situation. Justice, egalitarianism, and the need are some of the commonly used criteria. If equality is the main criterion to be used, then organizations dispense goods uniformly among the members of society. The only shortcoming to this criterion is that different individuals have different needs.
Equity ensures that goods are distributed according to an individual’s involvement. Those who participate more in society get a larger share compared to the rest. This criterion is normally used in a society with equal economic opportunities to compete for. Lastly, goods can be distributed according to the need. People who demand more resources or benefits based on their needs receive more. This criterion is mostly used in poor communities.
For a society to operate effectively, it must engage in effective and efficient production, keep its membership, and/or ensure that it sustains the wellbeing of the members. Equal resource distribution gives individuals a sense of belonging or membership. Equity ensures that society is motivated to produce enough resources and ready for their rewards. Distributing resources according to need ensures that every member of the society has his or her needs to take care of.
The Need for a TBL Company
Both CSR and TBL are essential to any business organization. Profit maximization ensures that multinational corporations have a great market share, have a competing chance with other corporations, and that their profits are utilized for the companies’ growth, expansion, and sustainability. Hence, business owners and corporate managers apply the TBL concept to ensure that their businesses positively gaining from their transactions.
TBL not only guarantees growth but also ensures that bills are paid, the members of the staff are appropriately remunerated, and that businesses are conducted by the right people at the right time. It ensures that factors such as sales prices, production costs, and output levels are addressed effectively to maximize a company’s profits. However, even though making profits is one of the main objectives of many business organizations, it should not be the only focus. Business ethical responsibility or the duty that a company has towards the society is a factor that should not be taken lightly.
The TBL concept ensures that companies’ innovations and sustainability benefit both the organizations and the community. Businesses are part of the community. Hence, both parties should benefit economically and socially. While the community relies on these businesses for goods and services, the competition gives customers a chance to make purchase decisions based on numerous factors. One of these factors may be the benefits the society is reaping from an organization. Customers today base their company’s loyalty on how its business is positively helping the community. The TBL notion ensures that companies not only focus on societal needs but also try as much as possible to cater to all of them.
The public image of a multinational corporation is always at the mercy of social responsibility duties. The image depends on how much its business influences and/or impresses society. Many customers would refrain from conducting business with any company that has a bad reputation. The Triple Bottom Line concept ensures that companies exercise proper corporate social responsibilities. Any company’s biggest shareholder is the customer.
Individuals are more likely to conduct business with organizations that seek to help or influence society positively. Consumers are comfortable conducting business with a company that has the society’s needs and wants at heart. Therefore, the paper has argued that it is essential for multinational corporations to uphold the Triple Bottom Line concept to maintain a proper and clean public image, which can be broadcasted to the world. This move will ensure growth, hiked profit margin, and sustainability of both the business organizations and society.
Henriques, A., & Richardson, J. (2004). The Triple Bottom Line: Does it add up. New York, NY: Earthscan Publisher. Web.
Hubbard, G. (2009). Measuring organizational performance: Beyond the Triple Bottom Line. Business Strategy and the Environment 18(3), 177-191. Web.
McWilliams, A. (2000). Corporate Social Responsibility. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management. Chicago: University of Illinois. Web.
Norman, W., & MacDonald, C. (2004). Getting to the bottom of “Triple Bottom Line”. Business Ethics Quarterly 14(02), 243-262. Web.
Tang, L., Gallagher, C., & Bie, B. (2015). Corporate Social Responsibility Communication Through Corporate Websites: A Comparison of Leading Corporations in the United States and China. Journal of Business Communication, 52(2), 205-227. Web.