Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development | Print |

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a global association of about 200 companies that deals exclusively with business and sustainable development, defined corporate social responsibility as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development, while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”

Corporate responsibility has become the catchphrase for the business community at the start of the new millennium, and increasingly it refers not only to how corporations must behave in order to avoid doing the wrong thing, but also how they should act to make a positive contribution to society and the environment.

Corporate social responsibility is not simply a benevolent undertaking. Increasingly it is becoming clear that sustainable development in the greater society is an effective long-term growth strategy for business. Simply stated, business is less likely to succeed when the societies upon which it is dependent are not working properly. Poverty is a primary threat to both political and economic stability, and business can play an important role in alleviating and even eradicating poverty.

Sustainable development rests on three pillars: the economy, the social structure and the environment. Economic wellbeing is an important element of sustainable development; for it enables societies to combat poverty and to invest not only in the present but in the future. But, for sustainable development to occur, economic growth should take place in a society in which all active participants are also stakeholders, where decisions are transparent and the playing field is even. Sustainable development must all also secure and nourish all stakeholders’ living and physical environments, including natural resources. This requires a safe and sanitary workplace, a healthy and properly trained work force, and a modus operandi that does not impact negatively on the earth’s resources.