IELTS READING – Corporate Social Responsibility S54AT2/in IELTS Reading Academic, IELTS Reading Easy Demo for Academic /by IELTS Simulator
IELTS READING S54AT2
Corporate Social Responsibility
Broadly speaking, proponents of CSR have used four arguments to make their case: moral obligation, sustainability, license to operate, and reputation. The moral appeal—arguing that companies have a duty to be good citizens and to *do the right thing” —is prominent in the goal of Business for Social Responsibility, the leading nonprofit CSR business association in the United States. It asks that its members “achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment.” Sustainability emphasizes environmental and community stewardship.
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A. An excellent definition was developed in the 1980s by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and used by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The notion of license to operate derives from the fact that every company needs tacit or explicit permission from governments, communities, and numerous other stakeholders to do business. Q14 Finally, reputation is used by many companies to justify CSR initiatives on the grounds that they will improve a company’s image, strengthen its brand, enliven morale, and even raise the value of its stock.
B. Q15 To advance CSR, we must root it in a broad understanding of the interrelationship between a corporation and society while at the same time anchoring it in the strategies and activities of specific companies. To say broadly that business and society need each other might seem like a cliché, but it is also the basic truth that will pull companies out of the muddle that their current corporate-responsibility thinking has created Successful corporations need a healthy society. Education, health care, and Q21 equal opportunity are essential to a productive workforce. Safe products and working conditions not only attract customers but lower the Q22 internal costs of accidents. Efficient utilization of land, water, energy, and other natural resources makes business more productive. Good government, the rub of law, and property rights are essential for efficiency and innovation. Strong regulatory standards protect both consumers and competitive companies from exploitation. Ultimately, a healthy society creates expanding demand for business, as more human needs are met and aspirations grow. Any business that pursues its ends at the expense of the society in which it operates will find its success to be illusory and ultimately temporary. At the same time, a healthy society needs successful companies. No social program can rival the business sector when it comes to creating the jobs, wealth, and innovation that improve standards of living and social conditions over time.
C. A company’s impact on society also changes over time, as social standards evolve and science progresses. Asbestos, now understood as a serious health risk, was thought to be safe in the early 1900s, given the scientific knowledge then available. Evidence of its risks gradually mounted for more than 50 years before any company was held liable for the harms it can cause. Many firms that failed to anticipate the consequences of this evolving body of research have been bankrupted by the results. Q16 No longer can companies be content to monitor only the obvious social impacts of today. Without a careful process for identifying evolving social effects of tomorrow, firms may risk their very survival.
D. Q17 No business can solve all of society’s problems or bear the cost of doing so. Instead, each company must select issues that intersect with its particular business. Other social agendas are best left to those companies in other industries, NGOs, or government institutions that are better positioned to address them. The essential test that should guide CSR is not whether a cause is worthy but whether it presents an opportunity to create shared value— that is, a meaningful benefit for society that is also valuable to the business. However, Corporations are not responsible for all the world’s problems, nor do they have the resources to solve them all Each company can identify the particular set of societal problems that it is best equipped to help resolve and from which it can gain the greatest competitive benefit. Addressing social issues by creating shared value will lead to self-sustaining solutions that do not depend on private or government subsidies. When a well-run business applies its vast resources, expertise, and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake, it can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization.
E. The best corporate citizenship initiatives involve far more than writing a check: They specify clear, measurable goals and track results over time. Q25 A good example is GE’s program to adopt underperforming public high schools near several of its major u.s. facilities. The company contributes between $250,000 and $1 million over a five-year period to each school and makes in-kind donations as well GE managers and employees take an active role by working with school administrators to assess needs and mentor or tutor students. In an independent study of ten schools in the program between 1989 and 1999, nearly all showed significant improvement, while the graduation rate in four of the five worst performing schools doubled from an average of 30% to 60%. Effective corporate citizenship initiatives such as this one create goodwill and improve relations with local governments and other important constituencies. What’s more, GE’s employees feel great pride in their participation. Q18 Their effect is inherently limited, however. No matter how beneficial the program is, it remains incidental to the company’s business, and the direct effect on GE’s recruiting and retention is modest.
F. Microsoft’s Working Connections partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is a good example of a shared-value opportunity arising from investments in context. The shortage of information technology workers is a significant constraint on Microsoft’s growth; currently, there are more than 450,000 unfilled IT positions in the United States alone. Community colleges, with an enrollment of 11.6 million students, representing 45% of all U.S. undergraduates, could be a major solution. Microsoft recognizes, however, that community colleges face special challenges: Q26 IT curricula are not standardized, technology used in classrooms is often outdated, and there are no systematic professional development programs to keep faculty up to date. Microsoft’s $50 million five-year initiative was aimed at all three problems. In addition to contributing money and products, Microsoft sent employee volunteers to colleges to assess needs, contribute to curriculum development, and create faculty development institutes. Note that in this case, volunteers and assigned staff were able to use their core professional skills to address a social need, a far cry from typical volunteer programs. Q19 Microsoft has achieved results that have benefited many communities while having a direct—and potentially significant—impact on the company.
G. At the heart of any strategy is a unique value proposition: a set of needs a company can meet for its chosen customers that others cannot. The most strategic CSR occurs when a company adds a social dimension to its value proposition, making social impact integral to the overall strategy. Consider Whole Foods Market, whose value proposition is to sell organic, natural and healthy food products to customers who are passionate about food and the environment. Q24 The company’s sourcing emphasizes purchases from local farmers through each store’s procurement process. Buyers screen out foods containing any of nearly 100 common ingredients that the company considers unhealthy or environmentally damaging. The same standards apply to products made internally. Whole Foods’ commitment to natural and environmentally friendly operating practices extends well beyond sourcing. Stores are constructed using a minimum of virgin raw materials. Recently, the company purchased renewable wind energy credits equal to 100% of its electricity use in all of its stores and facilities, the only Fortune 500 company to offset its electricity consumption entirely. Q23 Spoiled produce and biodegradable waste are trucked to regional centers for composting. Whole Foods‘ vehicles are being converted to run on biofuels. Even the cleaning products used in its stores are environmentally friendly. And through its philanthropy, the company has created the Animal Compassion Foundation to develop more natural and humane ways of raising farm animals. Q20 In short, nearly every aspect of the company’s value chain reinforces the social dimensions of its value proposition, distinguishing Whole Foods from its competitors.
From Harvard business review 2007