This factsheet was last updated in June 2014.
What is corporate responsibility?
The area of corporate responsibility (CR) has developed with the recognition that organisations’ operating activities impact on society, the environment and the economy. In committing to CR, organisations look at their stakeholders and attempt to maximise the positive impact of their operations and minimise any negative effects.
CR informs the way an organisation does business, including all aspects of corporate governance, to ensure that they are operating ethically and in a transparent and accountable way. This often goes beyond organisations’ legal obligations; indeed, CR has grown in part due to perceived limitations of legislation, either in its scope, detail or power to influence.
Precise definitions of CR vary and the term is often used interchangeably with other terminology such as corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability and sustainable business. Underlying all these concepts is the belief that a business that damages the societal, economic and environmental systems on which it depends will ultimately be unsustainable. At CIPD, we prefer the broad term corporate responsibility to include financial as well as social and environmental responsibility.
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