Dahlsrud (2006) defines CSR as a social construct determined by a given context. CSR addresses various dimensions such as stakeholders and the environment. Campbell (2007) confers that CSR involves the integration of a company’s social agenda with its strategies. This is done in order to deliver value to the business. Carroll and Shabana (2010) argued that organisations have a moral responsibility to the society beyond making profits - this is the essence of CSR. This resonates with the assertion that company’s exercise their CSR by being accountable and managing their stakeholders (Garriga & Mele, 2004). However, various definitions merely offer descriptions of CSR as opposed to providing an understanding or how businesses can understand the concept and apply it in their strategies based on a social construct (Dahlsrud, 2006:1-13). Moreover, social issues and taking responsibility for the environment are global concerns that constitute CSR, regardless of the definitions adopted (Montiel, 2008).
The adoption of CSR helps to sustain a company’s legitimacy in the market and facilitates access to new markets. When a company proactively engages in addressing the social concerns of its stakeholders, it can reap benefits such an enhanced brand or reputation (Kotler & Lee, 2005). For instance, the provision of high quality and environmentally friendly products can enhance the consumers’ perception of a company’s products. Additionally, the company can tap into the goodwill derived from consumers and the society in launching its products. The company would then incur lower costs in trying to persuade new customers to purchase its products due to positive perceptions and increased acceptance. Moreover, such benefits can be passed to consumers in form of lower prices, which could translate to higher revenues. Therefore, sustainable profit growth and the going concern of the organisation relies on how well it can condition markets or enhance consumer demand of its products or services through its CSR efforts (Lee, 2008).
CSR is also instrumental in ensuring that a company recruits and retains its workforce (Kotler & Lee, 2005). Moreover, such a company is likely to encounter minimal disruptions and thereby lower costs of replacing workers and retraining them. CSR is also linked to productivity and motivation of workers. As such, company should ensure that their organizational values and practices are in tune with their employees’ needs and values (Mullerat, 2010).
Another opportunity accorded by CSR is employment branding- the use of CSR as a base for recruiting and retaining staff (Kotler & Lee, 2005). CSR can be used as a tool for attracting talented professionals in a crowded labour market. For instance, Capgemini- an IT consultancy organization based in the Netherlands adopted this approach in recruiting over 800 personnel for various positions (Visser & Hollender, 2011). The company undertook a survey to evaluate the requisite retention factors for IT staff. As a reward for taking part in the survey, Capgemini funded a program in India that provided for schooling as well as housing for the country’s deprived children. As a result of an overwhelming response from the survey respondents, the