Corporate responsibility Introduction is a term that is supplanting the term corporate social responsibility. The social‘ is increasingly being omitted in order to emphasize the broader responsibilities of business corporations. The development of the argument from one of requiring corporations to act in socially responsible ways, to more recent calls for corporations to be seen as corporate citizens.
An image emerges of business interests playing an active, although not always transparent, role in political and social, as well as economic matters. The question is thus raised, To what extend is ethical egoism, with its appeal to emotive and fundamental concepts such as freedom and individuality, merely a convenient facade behind which privileged and powerful self-interests hide?
Frustration with the myopia and impotence displayed by governments to correct what are seen as the inadequate responses to profound corporate governance issues such as child labor, forced labor, inhuman working conditions, despoliation of the environment, and the connivance and corrupt practices of governments with corporations has led to a series of other initiatives:
•1999: UN Global Compact
•2001: CSR Europe & FTSE4Good
•2002: King Report
•2003-2004: BITC Index
•2004: Gearing Up
The King Report relates to corporate governance in South Africa. This is a much more expansive and inclusive view of corporate governance than any UK or US financial corporate governance reports since. It offers a very different perspective on corporate governance, arguing that business is a part of society rather than apart from society.