Traditionally, corporations were responsible only to their owners; and their primary and only objective was profit maximization. Corporations’ responsibility towards the community and the environment in which they operate was overlooked. Hence, Corporations’ responsibility towards the community and the environment which is commonly known as corporate social responsibility is a recent development in the area of corporate governance.
Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated "CSR," is a corporation's initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company's effects on environmental and social well-being. The term generally applies to efforts that go beyond what may be required by their memorandum of association, regulators or environmental protection groups. CSR can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.
The same money and influence that enable large companies to inflict damage on people and the environment allows them to effect positive change. At its simplest, a corporation can give money to charity. Companies can also use their influence to pressure governments and other companies to treat people and resources more ethically. Companies can invest in local communities in order to offset the negative impact their operations might have. A natural resources firm that begins to operate in a poor community might build a school, offer medical services or improve irrigation and sanitation equipment. Similarly, a company might invest in research and development in sustainable technologies, even though the project might not immediately lead to increased profitability.
Today, a shift has occurred in the way people conceptualize corporate social responsibility. For decades, corporate business models have been assumed to be necessarily harmful to certain communities and resources. The intention was therefore to mitigate or reverse the damage inherent in doing business. Now many entrepreneurs consider profit and social-environmental benefit to be inextricable.