Glossary


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – a company’s belief that the true measure of its wealth is directly linked to its efforts to better its employees and the communities in which it does business. Actions driving corporate citizenship are fluid and effortless as they are embedded in the organization’s value system. CSR is also commonly referred to as Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Responsibility, Ethical Business, or Social Responsibility.

Corporate Governance – this term is often mistaken to be synonymous with CSR. In reality Corporate Governance is part of an overall CSR program. No CSR program can be successful without implementation and follow-through, and governance within a company is what effectively drives any CSR program.

Green-washing – the act of using environmental or “green” campaigns to make your company or corporation appear to be corporately responsible when in reality it is not. This is an example of “window-dressing,” the act of using philanthropic causes disingenuously in order to distract stakeholders from irresponsible corporate behavior, especially pertaining to the environment.

Pink-washing – the act of using breast cancer awareness campaigns to make your company or corporation appear to be corporately responsible when in reality it is not. This is an example of “window-dressing,” the act of using philanthropic causes disingenuously in order to distract stakeholders from irresponsible corporate behavior.

Stakeholders – people within a corporation such as managers, executives, employees, etc. as well as the community at large. Stakeholders differ from shareholders in that stakeholders include the people in a community that the corporation directly or indirectly affects in addition to its employees – whereas shareholders are only the people who have ownership of a corporation. The distinction lies in whom corporations have a responsibility to, and CSR typically dictates that corporations are responsible to stakeholders, not just shareholders.

Sustainability – having the capacity to endure or to be sustained. As it applies to Corporate Responsibility, it is the ability of a practice, program, business, or initiative to be maintained over the long-term with little or no negative impact on economic, environmental, or social dimensions. Sustainability has risen as an important topic in the last decade or so due to the emphasis on maintaining CSR programs and initiatives into the future.

Responsible Investment – the act of investing a company’s capital into responsible ventures that have a positive impact upon the company itself and the community at large. It refers to companies that actively decide to invest in responsible ventures even though they may be more costly because it’s the right thing to do, whereas irresponsible companies cut corners, or actively ignore dangers inherent in their investments, in order to make a higher profit.

Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet, Profit – the mantra for many companies, this is the belief that People, Planet, and Profit are the three most important responsibilities for a company. The ordering is not a coincidence; companies that truly adopt a Triple Bottom Line believe people and the planet come before profit above all else.

Window-dressing – the act of using CSR programs or campaigns to make a company appear to be socially responsible when in reality they are not. Some examples of this are “green-washing” and “pink-washing,” which are disingenuous philanthropic campaigns, but window-dressing may also refer to internal CSR programs that look good on paper but do little to change how the company works from the inside out.