Emphasizing the ‘Social’ in Corporate Social Responsibility: A Social Work Perspective
Social work is a profession that stands for social justice and protection of human rights for individuals, communities and societies. As such it has an invaluable knowledge and skills set that can inform debates and practice in the area of CSR. The paper will draw indirectly on lessons derived from research, funded by a multi-national mining company in regional Western Australia, to address conflict between the company and an impacted neighbouring community. Social work knowledge directed the research towards enabling dialogue and mutual respect, with due attention to power issues and the need for social justice for people and sustainability for the local environment. Profit unhinged from these parallel considerations of people and place threatens sustainability as well as social justice.
A key insight is the creative potential of stakeholder relationships in collaboratively dialoguing about the conflict to find common ground and ways forward. Legalistic strategies, media coverage and government policies and inquiries were inadequate to address the conflict. Local supported dialogues with company managers and impacted people can make a difference for the better. This difference for the better has important implications for CSR being a public responsibility, not solely owned and driven by corporations or government. Additionally, the social dimension of sustainability concerns contains the creative potential when competing agendas, conflict and power issues are embraced.
KeywordsCorporate Social Responsibility Social Work Social Justice Corporate Philanthropy Power Issue
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