The terms Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have gained immense traction in recent years. We often hear these two terms used interchangeably in business, but do they mean the same thing?
What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is a voluntary practice adopted by businesses to demonstrate their responsibility and dedication to improving the welfare of communities and society as a whole (Reckman, 2023). CSR emerged as a response to the growing recognition that companies, as key societal stakeholders, are encouraged to prioritize ethical practices to address social and environmental concerns beyond profit-making. CSR initiatives mainly focus on activities like philanthropy, employee volunteering, and community engagement. To put it simply, CSR primarily focuses on projects a company undertakes to give back to the community as part of its responsibilities.
What is Sustainability?
On the other hand, Sustainability encompasses a broader perspective beyond CSR. Sustainability aims to balance ecological, economic, and social factors to ensure a thriving planet for future generations (Dyllick, 2016). It focuses on creating lasting solutions and addressing global challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and social inequality.
This means businesses are required to account for the long-term social, environmental, and economic effects of their operations and they can do so by adopting sustainable business practices and integrating sustainability into their core business strategy.
Key Difference Between CSR & Sustainability
How are Sustainability and CSR Related?
In terms of its application, CSR is an aspect that can complement sustainability. Since CSR activities alone mainly only address immediate social needs, incorporating these activities into a sustainability strategy can help businesses create long-term value by balancing environmental, economic, and social factors. Ultimately, sustainability can be seen as an evolution of CSR, integrating responsible practices into the core business strategy and considering a broader range of environmental and social factors. While CSR has its merits in addressing immediate social needs, sustainability offers a more comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to building a resilient and equitable future for businesses and society.