Issues in Brief, No. 16, September 2010

Call for a Corporate Social Conscience Index
By Stephanie Watts

September 2010 (8 pages)
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Corporate social responsibility” (CSR) has become a widely used term to describe how large companies adopt practices and policies that curb the potential negative impacts their operations can have on the surrounding environment and the community in which they are based. But companies’ claims of CSR behavior can be difficult to verify. This brief calls for the development of a “Corporate Social Conscience Index” as a mechanism for exerting some degree of transparency and accountability for CSR programs of large multinational companies. The author argues that by developing an index that provides insights to corporations’ excessive, unproductive spending as well as their activities related to environmental sustainability, job creation, and supply chain transparency, consumers along with policy makers, employees and researchers would be able determine whether a corporation is truly practicing corporate social responsibility and pressure more corporations to adopt meaningful CSR programs.

Stephanie Watts is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the Boston University School of Management and a Faculty Fellow of the Pardee Center. Her research interests include the role that emerging technologies, especially information technologies, are playing and can play in ethical consumption.