Can Corporate Social Responsibility Drive Entrepreneurial Profits?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Image: Amega

Although the term “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is an idea that’s been part of the corporate lexicon for more than four decades, it’s still a relatively unknown concept in many business circles. In many ways, it’s an esoteric umbrella term that encompasses many things, ranging from environmental policies and hiring practices to corporate philanthropy.

Ultimately, CSR is a top-down philosophic approach evocative of Google’s old mantra, “don’t be evil.” Although it’s arguable whether Google has actually been following this core value, especially since it has recently started producing robots for the military, the underlying sentiment is clear: Corporations should behave in a socially responsible manner.

But in this day and age of hostile corporate takeovers and cutthroat capitalism, you may be wondering: Doesn’t CSR put companies (particularly freshly minted entrepreneurial ventures) at a competitive disadvantage? The following is an examination of how CSR-based strategies have affected three companies and their profits.

J. Crew Group, Inc.

J. Crew Group is a successful business. Let’s analyze how the company’s core values, social behaviors, and actions involve being more socially responsible and how that impacts its profits.

Mission statement

“We believe that we have a responsibility to operate our business with sensitivity to the world around us. We seek to incorporate sustainable business practices into all of our operations, improve our environmental impact and support social responsibility and community involvement. As part of our long-standing commitment to service, we hope to inspire our associates, customers and partners to protect the environment and promote social responsibility.”

This high-quality American apparel retailer based in New York City thousands of employees and, although they’re not represented by a union, the company maintains a healthy relationship with them as it hasn’t had any labor-related work stoppages. Here are some distinct reasons this company is socially responsible:

  • Offer a comprehensive and competitive benefits package, salary, annual bonus, and store discount
  • Offer many services and promotions for customers, including personal shopper services
  • Emphasize social responsibility of its suppliers, monitoring them to ensure they’re following the rules
  • Develop programs in energy efficiency, natural resources, waste minimization, and engagement

Because the company is transparent and takes responsibility for its actions, there’s no doubt that it’s worked toward becoming a socially responsible corporation. Its two-year growth on the NYSE is a testament to that.

The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.

This well-known cosmetic company is also based in New York City, manufacturing and marketing makeup, skin care, fragrance, and hair care products for both men and women.

Mission statement:

“Bringing the best to everyone we touch and being the best in everything we do.”

With the company managing 28 brands and 32,300 employees in more than 150 countries, it’s important to analyze how it’s operating because of the range of impact it has in the world. Here are some things this company is doing to ensure that it’s being socially responsible:

  • Offers professional development and extensive training opportunities to all its employees
  • Offers tuition reimbursement for all its educational and developmental programs
  • Aspires to have a workplace with zero accidents, with 27 employees designated to monitor health, environmental, and safety concerns at all its facilities (also introduced global safety program)
  • Complies with strict FDA regulations concerning makeup products, focusing to minimize the environmental impact by concentrating on energy conservation, biodiversity, sustainable packaging, and green chemistry

If you look at the 10-year growth of this company, you’ll notice that the regulations it’s implemented to enforce social responsibility have had a correlation with the how well it’s done on the NYSE. That’s not an accident.

Johnson and Johnson

Another company worth briefly assessing is one in the pharmaceutical industry — Johnson and Johnson. Not only is it the eighth largest pharmaceutical company in the world, but it operates in more than 60 countries with 117,900 employees. When you discuss global influence, you can’t get much more widespread than that.

Mission statement

“We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world. Everyone must be considered as an individual. We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate, and working conditions clean, orderly and safe. We must be mindful of ways to help our employees fulfill their family responsibilities. Employees must feel free to make suggestions and complaints. There must be equal opportunity for employment, development and advancement for those qualified. We must provide competent management, and their actions must be just and ethical”

Here are some things this company has strived to do to become socially responsible throughout the years:

  • Remain transparent about its environmental sustainability so that the public is aware at all times
  • Reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 7 percent
  • Reduce water usage in all its facilities
  • Cut down on hazardous and non-hazardous wastes
  • Eliminate all PVC in primary, secondary, and tertiary packages in the consumer sector
  • Increase an employee’s understanding of global environmental issues

In addition to the environmental goals its strived to accomplish, Johnson and Johnson also offers its employees educational and developmental programs, competitive salaries, and comprehensive benefit packages. This ensures that anyone working for the company is taken care of and treated as a valued employee. If you look at the five-year growth of this older and established company, you’ll see that gaining profits isn’t too much of a problem.

According to Bright, 162,000 net jobs created were a result of corporations dedicating their operations to social responsibility. As these corporations gain profits, they recruit new talent, making social responsibility a key factor for attaining this talent and driving larger profits. The above-mentioned corporations are good examples of old and new companies striving to use social responsibility to further their growth while having a positive impact globally.

What do you think about the issue of corporate social responsibility and the impact it has on profits and job growth? Do you think this makes the job market more competitive? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.


Annie DavisAnine Davis is a freelance writer from New Jersey. Besides writing, her hobbies include skiing, traveling, kayaking and photography. You can reach Annie at



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