Despite the growing awareness and popularity of the term CSR, there is no general consensus as to what it actually means.9 In fact, CSR is often used interchangeably with various other terms, such as corporate philanthropy, corporate citizenship, business sustainability, business ethics, and corporate governance.10 Although these other terms do not all mean the same thing, there is one underlying thread that connects them all - the understanding that companies have a responsibility not just toward shareholders, but also toward other stakeholders, such as "customers, employees, executives, non-executive board members, investors, lenders, vendors, suppliers, governments, NGOs, local communities, environmentalists, charities, indigenous people, foundations, religious groups and cultural organizations."11 All of these stakeholders are equally important to a corporation, and it should therefore strive with sincerity to fulfill the varied expectations of each.
[A corporation] has a role to play in treating its employees well, preserving the environment, developing sound corporate governance, supporting philanthropy, fostering human rights, respecting cultural differences and helping to promote fair trade, among others. All are meant to have a positive impact on the communities, cultures, societies and environments in which companies operate. It is a known fact that a corporation is owned by shareholders who provide risk capital in expectation of a financial return. Hence, the primary goal of corporate management is to run the business profitably to maximize shareholder value in the form of dividend and appreciated stock prices.13 But this is an extremely narrow interpretation of profitability, and one which focuses on one stakeholder while ignoring the contribution of others in the success of the enterprise. Shareholders are important stakeholders as they are the ones who have invested their money in the financial equity. But a modern company has several
types of equity in addition to financial equity. Investments in these other equities are made by a variety of stakeholders. For instance:
• Intellectual equity: Employees invest their ideas in improving technological processes, product quality, cost management, marketing techniques, and...