The Challenges and Advantages of Socially Responsible Companies

Corporate citizenship goes far beyond the allocation of economic and financial resources to social responsibility initiatives.

This growing interest of companies in actions that support their social and corporate legitimacy within the community not only brings benefits, but may even require special care.

A change in attitude

Necessarily. “… companies understand that financial returns are not enough to guarantee the sustainability of their businesses and that the adoption of strategies of social responsibility, valuing work in partnership, can be of direct economic value.” (Rocha , Machado, Rocha, 2006).

This interest stems from three essential factors: consumer demand – pressure from political and legislative actors – awareness of business growth and the economic benefits of being a “social” enterprise (Gilder, Schuyt and Breedijk, 2005).

The so-called ‘corporate volunteering’ has been reported since before 1900, but it has been from the Eighties of the last century that social responsibility has gained prominence, consolidating since then (Basil et al. 2009).

What ways and means?

Among the various initiatives developed by the companies, some examples are: environmental protection, contribution to the improvement of the life of the population by the collection of funds and direct actions for specific causes.

Companies operate, as we know, in multiple ways, since they can either make economic and financial resources available, provide time (during working hours) or have their technical and specialized skills available to the community.

As pointed out by different experts and studies, corporate social responsibility is always focused on generic social issues with the aim of reducing its impact, which tends to be negative in society, although this perspective is not unanimous and exempt from debate.


Of course, the first perspective is that the use of social responsibility allows companies to positively reflect their image of the company. It is their desire for social legitimacy – accepted as a key institution for their community, which generates employment and wealth, in an integrated and sustainable way.

This, of course, derives from the desire to add to the dictionary, but also by increasing pressure from governments, the media and the community as a whole.

And, on the other hand, experts like Fonseca (2002) and Azevedo (2001) emphasize that such corporate citizenship initiatives also contribute to and reinforce the cohesion and social stability of the environment in which they intervene.

Will volunteering really be beneficial to the organization?

Some experts (Gilder, Schuyt and Breedijk, 2005) don’t think so. They stress, moreover, that voluntary activity may not be wholly beneficial and, in particular, have particular challenges.

In fact, employees may see volunteering as something private that should be separated from business issues, and, in addition, may disagree with management and how resources are used in this type of program.

Or, otherwise, workers participating in such initiatives may be seen as not being fully engaged in their internal responsibilities or as deeply involved in the company’s policies or their own reality.


On the contrary, it is emphasized that corporate volunteering tends to have a positive impact on the performance of the employees who participate in them, due to their greater motivation and enthusiasm (although, for employees who already do it, such effects are more mitigated ).

Some indicators also show, however, that such initiatives promote the acquisition and development of skills and the general involvement of the worker with the organization, improving satisfaction and the overall work climate. (see in this regard comments by Basil et al., 2009; Gilder, Schuyt and Breedijk, 2005).