Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, is the business practice of being accountable for the negative and positive impact of a company's actions on society and the environment. This includes things like sustainable practices, human rights, and environmentalism. Many fashion brands are already taking note of Corporate Social Responsibility and applying it to their own businesses.
In this article, we will explore what CSR is, how it can be applied to the fashion industry, and what fashion brands can do to improve their responsible practices.
People, planet, and profits: the Corporate Social Responsibility
According to the European Commission, CSR is "The responsibility of companies for their impact on society."
At its core, Corporate Social Responsibility is about creating a positive impact on communities and the environment. Examples of CSR are:
- corporate philanthropy, such as corporate donations to charities or organisations;
- investing in renewable energy;
- using eco-friendly materials for products;
- adopting stringent policies against child labour;
- reducing energy consumption;
- taking steps to reduce negative externalities, like pollution or waste.
The emphasis is on making sure that a company's actions are as sustainable as possible while still achieving its corporate goals. This is often referred to as the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profits.
However, CSR is not just a set of actions but requires a change of mindset and the adoption of a new business model. This means that Corporate Social Responsibility is about creating a culture of sustainability and corporate accountability. For accountability, we mean that companies must be transparent about their corporate social practices, and track and report on their corporate impacts. This means that companies must become responsible not only for their own choices but also for those of the entire supply chain.
In addition to Corporate Social Responsibility, fashion brands are also becoming more aware of Corporate Citizenship. Corporate citizenship is the idea that companies have a duty towards their local communities and environment, beyond simply complying with laws and regulations. This includes things like investing in local projects, sponsoring cultural events, or helping vulnerable people in need.
CSR and the fashion industry
The fashion industry is one of the most labor-intensive businesses in the world. As such, ensuring ethical working conditions and fair wages for employees is paramount to any Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. Additionally, as many fashion products require the consumption of a large number of natural resources and a massive production of waste and pollution, brands need to find a way to reduce their environmental impact.
But why should they invest in Corporate Social Responsibility?
First of all, consumers are becoming more aware of corporate actions, and more and more often they choose to buy from companies that demonstrate to be responsible. This makes CSR an important factor for customer loyalty and brand value. Additionally, Corporate Social Responsibility helps a company reduce its operating costs, as sustainable practices lead to the use of fewer resources and lower energy consumption.