Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century
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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.
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Chapter 7: Recasting UK Corporate Law for the 21st Century

Bryan Horrigan


OVERVIEW Today, corporate social responsibility goes far beyond the old philanthropy of the past – donating money to good causes at the end of the financial year – and is instead an all year round responsibility that companies accept for the environment around them, for the best working practices, for their engagement in their local communities and for their recognition that brand names depend not only on quality, price and uniqueness but on how, cumulatively, they interact with companies’ workforce, community and environment. Now we need to move towards a challenging measure of corporate responsibility, where we judge results not just by the input but by its outcomes: the difference we make to the world in which we live, and the contribution we make to poverty reduction. – Gordon Brown, as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (subsequently Prime Minister)1 The most extensive overhaul of UK company law for more than a century is pregnant with potential CSR implications for CSR actors in the UK and beyond. The landmark Companies Act enacted in late 2006 embodies the UK Government’s adopted policy of ‘enlightened shareholder value’ (ESV). It legislatively enshrines for the first time in UK corporate law a formulation of directors’ duties that also offers an overarching structure and matrix of factors to guide boardroom decision-making. In particular, it makes the crucial triumvirate of directors’ duties, business risk management and corporate reporting more explicitly long-term, relational and stakeholder-sensitive, while ostensibly anchoring these developments in a reorientated notion of shareholder value. It also marks...

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