Definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Movement aimed at encouraging companies to be more aware of the impact of their business on the rest of society, including their own stakeholders and the environment. [1]

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.

CSR is a concept with many definitions and practices. The way it is understood and implemented differs greatly for each company and country. Moreover, CSR is a very broad concept that addresses many and various topics such as human rights, corporate governance, health and safety, environmental effects, working conditions and contribution to economic development. Whatever the definition is, the purpose of CSR is to drive change towards sustainability.

Although some companies may achieve remarkable efforts with unique CSR initiatives, it is difficult to be on the forefront on all aspects of CSR. Considering this, the example below provides good practices on one aspect of CSR – environmental sustainability.


Unilever is a multinational corporation, in the food and beverage sector, with a comprehensive CSR strategy. The company has been ranked ‘Food Industry leader’ in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for the 11 consecutive years and ranked 7th in the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’.

One of the major and unique initiatives is the ‘sustainable tea’ programme.  On a partnership-based model with the Rainforest Alliance (an NGO), Unilever aims to source all of its Lipton and PG Tips tea bags from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms by 2015.  The Rainforest Alliance Certification offers farms a way to differentiate their products as being socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. [2]