Some ten months ago, the editor of a popular business magazine approached me for writing a long piece on Corporate Social Responsibilities—CSR for short.
Since I am not a regular business writer, I did some research on this topic. But, halfway through my research, I realized that what the editor wanted me to write was on Corporate Social Philanthropy (CSP) and not Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
So, I called up the editor and discussed the story line with him. He told me that he wanted me to write all that I had discussed with him but under the theme Corporate Social Responsibilities. I thought for a moment and, then, I gave up. That was the end of the story. But, I would like to share with you what I had discovered during the course of my research.
Originally, Corporate Social Responsibilities and Corporate Social Philanthropy were rolled into one. But, as the term Corporate Social Responsibilities evolved, it came to be associated with good corporate governance and nothing else. And, many things we thought of as Corporate Social Responsibilities emerged as Corporate Social Philanthropy.
For instance, CSR includes ensuring effective management of the company; payment of salaries and other benefits to employees on time; maintaining proper accounts and getting them audited on time; paying taxes on time; ensuring dividends to stakeholders and investors; and, generally fulfilling all legal obligations as a corporate entity.
CSP, on the other hand, stands for philanthropic activities towards the society. This includes opening and running educational institutions, hospitals, art foundations and taking up environmental projects etc. Shriram College of Commerce, Tata Cancer Research Institute, Triveni Kala Sangam, greening the coal belt which lose their green cover due to mining activities are all examples of Corporate Social Philanthropy though some still view these as Corporate Social Responsibilities.
The point of distinction between CSR and CSP is that while CSR refers to corporate activities which are obligatory to ensure good corporate governance, CSP is purely devoted to social philanthropy and is totally voluntary in nature.