The United States of America is the third-largest country in terms of its area and houses the third-largest population in the world. The country is known to have a hegemony across the world, as its currency is used as the standard currency for all foreign trade. The USA popularly referred to as ‘The States’ is a dream country for many youngsters who wish to settle there for better, opportunities, pay and standard of living. The country’s capitalist economy has allowed businesses in every sector, especially technology, to thrive and expand across the globe.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the United States of America (USA)
CSR and corporate sustainability have taken a root in the business operations of several corporates over the last few decades. With many top businessmen such as Bill Gates taking pledges to donate their wealth to charity, the concept of responsible business and business-persons behaviour has become popularised. The environmental concerns and climate change has also increased pressure on the companies to carry out their operations sustainably.
The American companies fostered the idea and are now well-groomed in implementing CSR and improving their abilities to attract and keep more and more customers and stakeholders with them. At the same time, they have taken benefits of it in terms of reduced risks, increased green production and addressing the concerns of stakeholders on a serious note.
CSR Laws in the United States of America
There is no official law in place in the USA that mandates the corporates to spend a specific portion of their income to CSR. However, with increasing expectations of the people utilising services/products of the corporates, the businesses are more or less bound to take up a proactive role in social welfare.
While there is not law for positive reinforcements, there are laws in place in the country to prevent the companies from causing social or environmental harm and to force them to take necessary precautions or steps to revert the damage caused by its operations.
Americans are increasingly worried about societal harm arising from corporate activities such as that pertaining to the safety of products manufactured by corporations and to environmental issues. Thus, in the matter of protecting constituencies against certain negative “results” of corporate activities, namely the production of societal harm, American regulatory authorities have begun to mandate pertinent regulations. There exist numerous instances of US regulations compelling corporations to implement CSR when corporate activities trigger societal harm. For instance, the US federal legislation protects the environment from harm spawned by corporate activities through the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and other related environmental regulations.
Companies for CSR in the USA
Google specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. The success of its search engine has made its name synonymous with searching anything on the web.
Sustainability is one of the core values at Google. The company has been a leader in climate change since its founding over 20 years ago. Some of its key achievements include:
In 2007, Google became the first major company to become carbon neutral, and in 2019, it achieved 13 consecutive years of carbon neutrality. In 2017, it became the first major company to match 100% of annual electricity use with renewable energy, which it has done for three consecutive years. In fact, Google is the world’s largest annual corporate purchaser of renewable energy.
In 2020, the company neutralized its legacy carbon footprint since its founding, making Google the first major company to be carbon neutral for its entire operating history. In 2020, it issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond issuance by any company in history, to fund ongoing and new environmentally or socially responsible projects.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Fulfilling this mission and bringing the benefits of information not just to the more than 3 billion people who are already online but also to the next 4 billion requires it to use resources ever more efficiently.
Microsoft, under the influence of its co-founder and the world’s greatest philanthropist, Bill Gates, has set a benchmark among the corporates for conducting its CSR initiatives. The company has initiated various CSR projects across the globe with an aim to empower people through education and access to technology, safeguard human rights, and sustain the environment.
The company has provided over 12 million youth in 54 countries with computer science learning experiences. It also spent $3 billion in 2018 at minority-owned businesses and has donated $1.4 billion in software and services to nonprofits worldwide. Sustainability, accessibility and human rights goals inform every aspect of the business. Recently, Microsoft made a commitment to go carbon negative by 2030.
As per its latest CSR impact report, the company’s CSR projects have been able to achieve the following:
Helped a million persons with disability with technical support and seen 200% growth in calls since the start of the pandemic
In the three years since its launch, the Microsoft Airband Initiative has helped provide access to broadband for 2.1 million people in the US who live in previously unserved rural areas.
Since launching its Global Skills Initiative, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub have collectively reached more than 13 million learners around the globe, a significant milestone towards our goal of reaching 25 million learners by 2021.
In the fiscal year 2020, Microsoft provided $1.9 billion in donated or discounted products and services to help 243K nonprofits globally better serve their communities.
Cisco has pioneered the technology that connects everything. The company believes that connections have the potential to create opportunity for everyone and to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
CSR is core to the purpose, culture, and investment model of Cisco. The company focuses on the issues that align with its business strategy, and where it can have the greatest potential for global impact, including inclusion and diversity, supporting local community programs, and reducing its environmental impact.
Cisco is making impressive progress towards its ambitious goal of positively impacting one billion lives through social impact and signature grants by 2025. This includes ending poverty, helping small farmers around the world, serving 2 million children with its Networking Academy, maintaining an 80 per cent employee community service record, improving its supply chain, beating its 1 million ton emission reduction goal, using 100 per cent renewable energy, and achieving water neutrality and zero waste.
As per the rankings by the CSRHub, Lego is a world CSR leader. As part of its commitment to providing all children access to healthy play materials, LEGO donated 580,000 used bricks in 2018, then matched a MacArthur Foundation $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop to bring the power of play to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian conflicts.
The company’s sustainability efforts include using renewable energy in its factories and introducing a plant-based alternative to the polyurethane used in its toys. In June 2021, the company unveiled a prototype LEGO brick made from recycled plastic, the latest step in its journey to make LEGO products from sustainable materials. The new prototype, which uses PET plastic from discarded bottles, is the first brick made from a recycled material to meet the company’s strict quality and safety requirements.
LEGO has announced that they will be replacing the plastic packaging from their products with paper packaging.
The company has announced that it would invest as much as $400 million across three years in order to ‘accelerate sustainability and social responsibility initiatives.’ The toy-making giant said it would work towards complete phasing out of single-use plastic bags in its products by 2025. The trial of recyclable paper bags is expected this year.
Founders Doris and Don Fisher started Gap in 1969 with the intention of creating opportunities for the people and communities touched by their business. CSR was in their DNA before that term entered our lexicon. Now the global brand is tackling the waste found in fast fashion; using a transparent, sustainable supply chain; protecting endangered species; reducing energy usage and using energy that is 100 per cent renewable; eliminating waste and tackling climate change.
There may not be a hard law for CSR in the United States of America. However, there a soft law for the same. CSR is generally obligatory for corporates in the country in order to meet consumer expectations and internal norms. Through CSR the companies build their brands and goodwill in the country.