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Can We Define and Measure Corporate Social Responsibility?

Shanice Hrouda

The video above provides a relatively holistic view and definition of SCR, but the real question is how do we measure such an aspect of a company? More importantly, how does it help us?

We know the basic economics of the situation, if a company has bad business practices, then we can choose to not endorse them with our hard earned money. However, how do we know that a company has bad business practices, or good ones for that matter? In a fast-paced world of technology and consumerism, disclosure and information diffusion is everything.

In my quest for information, I stumbled across Corporate Responsibility Magazine . To quote their site:

“Our overarching mission is accountability. We believe it’s vital for investors, regulators, customers, suppliers, employees, and neighbors to know as much as possible about the companies they invest in, do business with, and work for.
CR Magazine’s Corporate Citizenship Methodology fulfills that mission by calling upon companies to make information available. Through this process, we put hard data into the hands of the people who have the most direct influence over these companies – and the most to gain or lose by their good or bad behavior.
By advancing accountability and transparency through this research we empower those closest to these companies to make better decisions and ultimately judge these companies and their behaviors. In that way, we move us all closer to a world where everyone has the information they need and markets function more effectively.”

http://thecro.com/content/cr-magazine-corporate-citizenship-lists-methodology

Their methodology is complicated, weighing in factors such as climate change, environmental, financial, human rights, and philanthropy. More detailed information is available in the above link. Most importantly (in my opinion) is the fact of all of the data that they use must be publicly available in order to be included in the data set.
They then use this data to generate a set of lists: the 100 best corporate citizens list, and the black list- the companies with the least amount of publicly available information, or the worst publicly available information. The links for the most up to date lists are below:

2014 100 Best Corporate Citizens List
http://www.thecro.com/files/100BestList.pdf

2012 Black List
http://www.thecro.com/files/Blacklist.pdf

On an end note, I am NOT suggesting that these companies are the most socially responsible, nor do I believe that these companies are necessarily sustainable or environmentally friendly. What I am saying is that perhaps it is possible to measure corporate social responsibility, and that that public distribution of information is key to making informed decisions both as a consumer and as a society.

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