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Week 5: Business Ethics and the Good Corporate Citizen


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Introduction

Corporate citizenship, also referred to as corporate social responsibility, is increasingly instrumental in defining the role of business in society. As the issue of integrating broader economic, environmental, and social concerns into evaluating corporate performance gains prominence, proper understanding of what it means for a company to be a good citizen becomes crucial.

Corporate citizenship is a contribution a company makes to society and the environment in which it conducts business. Traditionally, it has been understood as philanthropy and investment in social causes. But corporate citizenship has a broader meaning, including the benefits of a company’s core business activities to local communities, as well as civic engagement that helps the economy and the society as a whole. Corporate citizenship is not only about obligations, it’s also about rights. It is about how the private sector can prosper and at the same time improve the environment it operates in. Globally competitive business cannot exist in failed, unstable, corrupt, undemocratic countries.

For corporate citizenship to be effective, it has to move beyond being showcased as a public affairs strategy and instead it must become an integral part of business strategy. It means looking beyond short-term profits and working to reduce poverty, fight serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS or malaria, support education, protect the environment, advance ethical standards, and promote good business environment. Therefore, corporate citizenship should go beyond immediate financial contributions to charitable causes and prompt companies to become active members of the society working together with other stakeholders on crucial policy issues.