Our textbook defines social responsibility as “an organization’s obligation to maximize its positive impact on stakeholders and to minimize its negative impact” (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell 39). It is a vital aspect of a firm’s survival where a healthy balance between economic performance and environmental performance is found. In addition to maintaining stakeholder trust in a firm, social responsibility encourages sustainable business decisions that ensure the survival and quality of environmental resources for future generations. To an extent, all decisions that a firm is faced with have the potential to impact the natural environment in one way or another.
Sustainability plays a large role in the success or failure of social responsibility. It focuses on regulating the use of natural resources in order to minimize pollution as well as maximize the preservation and regeneration of resources for future generations. If businesses focused on the maximization of gain with no regard to sustainability, immense profits would be very short-lived before the natural environment became overwhelmingly toxified and natural resources were depleted beyond renewal (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell 39). This is actually a large-scale and increasingly common problem in the modern world. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, large-scale production became a reality and business growth was almost exponential for decades.
In recent decades, many environmental problems have been brought to mankind’s attention that can be directly linked to the hyperactivity of large-scale production. Atmospheric issues such as air pollution and global warming are just two concerns. Pollution emitted by power plants, factories, and commercial vehicles adds toxic chemicals to the atmosphere in large amounts that can be linked to decreased lifespans, asthma, bronchitis, allergies, cancer, and birth defects, to name a few. The excessive emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal in factories and power plants has also adversely affected the natural environment worldwide, not just in highly industrialized and urban areas. A fairly steady rise in surface and sea temperatures has been observed as industrial practices have spread and become more common. The surface area of polar regions that is covered in ice sheets has significantly dropped as well, causing a correlative increase in sea level. As a result, population centers located at or below sea level face a significantly greater risk of flooding and forced relocation (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell A-2).
Water issues, such as pollution and drought, are also widespread problems across the planet. The processes that generate nuclear power, geothermal energy, and natural gas (specifically fracking) require massive amounts of freshwater. However, once freshwater has been used in these processes, it becomes contaminated beyond the ability to be safely reused as drinking water...