Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

Debates, Models and Practices Across Government, Law and Business

Bryan Horrigan

Professor Bryan Horrigan spans subjects as diverse and topical as global corporate responsibility and governance debates, practical guidelines for responsible businesses and their professional advisers, governmental roles in corporate social responsibility, corporations and human rights, and the new era of ‘enlightened shareholder value’. He also highlights an emerging transnational and comparative body of law, regulation, and practice on corporate social responsibility. Illustrated throughout with meaningful controversies and examples, the book also highlights the major recent global developments in corporate social responsibility already this century, focusing especially on Europe, the UK, North America, and Australasia, and charting its future regulatory and research directions worldwide.

Foreword

Bryan Horrigan

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, environment, environmental management, law - academic, corporate law and governance, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

* 1 During my career of 37 years in government service followed by 10 years as a nonexecutive director of two international companies, I have seen the separate strands of corporate social responsibility grow and weave themselves into the wide-ranging concept which we have today. My time in government saw the ever-growing emphasis on individual rights, reflected not only in the human rights movement but in the attention given to equal opportunity for people of different genders, social classes and ethnic origins; to protection of consumers and stakeholders; to provision for the handicapped and disabled; and to care for the environment. It is, however, only recently that these behavioural norms, as they affect corporate behaviour, have welded together in the concept of corporate social responsibility. If a businessperson had been asked only 20 years ago what was his or her concept of corporate social responsibility, the answer would probably have been no more than the obligation to act ethically, to obey the law and to devote some of the company’s surplus wealth to charitable causes. Now these obligations and much more have come together in the concept of corporate social responsibility. Why has this happened? One reason is no doubt the growth of mega-corporations and their importance in citizens’ lives. Another is the increasing internationalisation of these corporations so that it is beyond the power of any single country to control them (except, to some extent, the United States through the power of its extra-territorial legislation on companies which have activities...