Businesses Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Duties Towards Communities in the Covid-19 crisiS

This is a blog post by Dr. Abeer Hassan and Professor Heather Tarbert (University of West of Scotland) about the what the Corporate Social Responsibility duties of businesses are amidst the Covid-19 Crisis.

During this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic, we were thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a concept. We searched the CSR academic literature definitions looking for the most relevant meaning of CSR that meets the current Covid-19  crisis.

As a result, we came up with the following definition: “CSR is the continuing commitment by businesses to behave fairly and responsibly and contribute to economic development whilst improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large”

As a result of Covid-19 pandemic, world leaders have followed World Health Organization (WHO) advice that social distancing is the solution to prevent the virus from spreading and to our allow National Health Services to save lives. To allow this to happen, businesses have been told to close their doors during the coronavirus outbreak. The question is: have businesses fulfilled their CSR duties?

As a way for the community to pull together during the coronavirus outbreak in these unprecedented times, businesses have realized that it is imperative for them to do their part and dedicate their resources to assist with shortages in the healthcare system. To keep their own machines running and provide important functions in this time of immense need, many businesses around the world are shifting into overdrive to help battle the coronavirus, providing everything from rubber gloves and ventilators to diagnostic tools and, hopefully soon, vaccines. Companies are shifting their production away from what it originally was to something more socially responsible. They are showing their creativity, generosity, and bravery during this difficult time in serving their local communities and society.

The support provided by UK business as a thank you message to NHS is a representative of a supportive community.For example, Dominos offering free Pizza; AA offering free break-down cover; Supermarkets allocated specific time for them, Higher Education sent stationery and 3D printers; Hotels near hospitals offering free stay, etc.

In addition, car manufacturers across the world have started converting their plants to produce ventilators and face masks after governments called for help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Alcohol brands are turning their attention to making hand sanitizer to distribute in communities experiencing shortages. 3D-printing companies are working on new ways to manufacture personal protective equipment and swabs for COVID-19 testing. Many designer businesses like Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Zara are shifting their focus by postponing the production of their usual products and instead making important items like face maks and hand sanitiser.

In addition, some businesses such as MacDonald’s, Burger King, Pret a Manager, etc., shared their secret recipes online for customers to try them at home to help and comfort those in self-isolation. The Premier League has donated £20m to the NHS to help support the relief efforts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and HSBC is donating £1m to the National Emergencies Trust and the British Red Cross Coronavirus Appeal to help those most in need.
It is true to say that CSR has become recognised for what it is. Business are trying their best to fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards society and have acknowledged that working together and cooperating will help tackle this crisis.

Blog published April 2020.
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