People think of businesses as take no prisoners enterprises that only care about the bottom line. The image of factories that pollute, industries that inappropriately uses natural resources and exploit their workers is persistent.

But throughout the 20th century and continuing to today, there has been a concerted effort from all parts of society to push businesses to become more socially responsible and develop a clear set of ethics that guide their operations.

In 2018, more companies than ever are committed to business ethics and social responsibility, and employers are looking for workers who can guide these efforts and help them deliver on the promise of corporate social responsibility.

Corporate Responsibility

Corporations are held to different levels of standards. They must conform to federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and internally, they are accountable to their shareholders and employees. Businesses that go beyond the minimum of government regulations are advancing the definition of business ethics.

Businesses must start to consider the environment as a closed loop. A business is just one link in a chain of natural resource extraction and production. If a company pollutes its environment to the point that its workers are sickened and all the natural resources necessary for the creation of its product are depleted, the long-term viability of that company is threatened. Consider this the baseline of corporate environmental and social responsibility.

Increasingly, businesses are being called upon to think beyond the baseline and consider their shareholders and society as a whole.

Triple Bottom Line Accounting & Green Certification

Imagine a company that considered its financial responsibilities with the same weight as its social and environmental responsibilities. That’s the goal of the Triple Bottom Line, an accounting framework developed in the mid-1990s with the goal of expanding what a business considered “success.”

The triple bottom line focuses on comprehensive results, not just financial earnings. Socially, businesses are focusing on employment rates, average employee income, commute times, and other quality of life factors. Environmentally, they’re looking at emissions rates, energy consumption, waste reduction, and more.

Across the globe, businesses are earning “green” certification through alliances like the Green Business Network, the Sustainable Business Network, the Network for Business Sustainability and more. These groups research a business’s practices that protect people and the environment.

Employees Love Socially Responsible Businesses

Businesses have another compelling reason for incorporating ethics and social responsibility into their practices: employees love it. Research has shown that employees of socially responsible companies respond with greater loyalty, more cooperation, and longer retention.

Businesses also find the public responds well to the message of corporate responsibility. Companies will need employees who can both implement campaigns that enhance business ethics and social responsibility while also managing the public relations aspect of getting the word out. Companies can look forward to favorable media coverage, which helps attract customers and investors who wanted to be connected to a brand that’s seen as a leader in environmental and social responsibility.

Unity’s new 100% online Sustainable Master’s of Business Administration gives students direct and real-world experience of business operations that consider the social, environmental, and financial impact of business and entrepreneurship.

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