Social Responsibility and
Building Consumer Base
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 2
Social Responsibility and Building Consumer Base As impassioned debates continue about the moral obligations of corporations, smaller companies can make significant contributions by implementing small changes. Company Q, a small chain of grocery stores in a larger city, has such an opportunity. Company Q recently closed two of its stores in the city, citing income losses due to high crime rates in the areas. Consequently, some people lost their jobs, while others lost their local grocery stores. At another location, when asked if it would donate day-old food to the local food bank, Company Q declined, claiming it feared that theft by employees claiming to be donating the food, but then eating it themselves, would cause a further loss of revenue. Alternatively, the company has decided to throw the food in the garbage rather than risk employee fraud. If Company Q changed its policy and donated the food, it would be benefiting less fortunate people in its community, and improving its relationships with its employees. It would also be involving all of its stakeholders, namely its current consumers in its decisions about its obligations toward social responsibility.
Literature about CSR (corporate social responsibility) suggests that companies have a moral obligation not only to members of the community in which they operate, but also to their employees. As researcher Graafland suggests, companies must pay attention to “human beings inside and outside of the organization,” the latter which includes promoting positive “labor relations” (Graafland & Ven, 2006, p.2). By listening to its employees concerns about social responsibility, Company Q would be reformulating a relationship of respect with its employees versus not trusting them to donate the food when assuming they would keep it for themselves.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 3
By inviting the employees to become part of the positive community action, the company is building its natural resource of contented employees, an invaluable investment for future growth and expansion. Another important component of a company structure is, of course, its consumers.
If a company is encouraged by its stakeholders to pursue practices that promote social responsibility, the company will often take such action. Business researchers insist that decisions about duties of social responsibility must be made among “partnerships … rather than a narrow operational focus on an organization’s own short-term efficiency and profits” (Meehan, Meehan, & Richards, 2006, p.394). If, in addition to day-old food donations, Company Q’s wealthier consumers are inspired to help downtrodden people in their own community by donating higher-priced items such as organic products and healthier alternatives, the consumers are becoming part of the loop of responsible corporate social behavior, which may promote more shopping at the store.
In addition to promoting better relationships with their