Social & Environmental Responsibilities

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Businesses can put scrubbers on chimneys to lessen air pollution.
Businesses can put scrubbers on chimneys to lessen air pollution. (Image: Industry image by GWJ from Fotolia.com)

All businesses face the ethical quandary of how to maximize profits without harming or exacerbating harm already incurred on the society and environment at large. Corporations must operate within certain parameters in order to maintain its economic standing. In social contexts, businesses must find an economically viable function that poses no detriment to its investors, employees, consumers and the general public. They must also find a function without polluting the environment, be it air, water or land.

Social Responsibilities

Society consists of all the individuals, families, organizations and entities affected by an activity or product. Businesses must maintain standards that do not harm the members of that society. Going a step further, they should, ideally, operate in a manner that promotes the growth and well-being of that society. Businesses have a responsibility to help weaker and less traditional members of society; ones, when grouped together, lack a large enough collective voice to speak for themselves. At the same time, they must reconcile a way to protect traditional values and culture. Companies must promote social living by acting as a source of employment to qualified members of the society. Businesses should also promote to the society in which it operates the benefits of an active healthy lifestyle through sports and culture. Finally, it is the business' responsibility to assist in the development and research areas of science, health, technology and education.

Environmental Responsibilities

Air, water and land pollution tend to be the most detrimental forms of pollution. They are also most often associated with production and manufacturing attributed to large corporations. It is the responsibility of businesses to operate in a manner that causes the least amount of depletion of resources, the least amount of pollution and the least amount of effect on the flora and fauna in the surrounding environment. Businesses must think globally in developing production strategies. As for environmental responsibilities, businesses must act in three roles to protect the environment: preventive, curative and awareness. The preventive role of businesses includes keeping production waste, be it gaseous, liquid or solid, out of its respective medium. Furthermore, finding uses for production waste or methods of disposal should be high in businesses' ethical priorities. The curative role of businesses consists of taking steps to fix damage previously incurred. These steps can and should occur in conjunction with preventive steps. A business' awareness role should include proper education of employees and the general public of the "causes and consequences" of different forms of pollution.

Impact

If businesses choose to operate outside the parameters set by government, responsibility and personal conscience, the consumer backlash can prove to be detrimental to the company's financial stability. Society's attitude toward social and environmental callousness has stimulated many businesses to accentuate the steps taken to keep the members of its society safe and healthy. Also, employees may find it ethically challenging to work for a company with whose policies on responsibility they do not agree.

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