Goals of this chapter
After studying this chapter you will be able to:
understand the emerging standard infrastructure of corporate responsibility;
distinguish auditing, reporting, and principle-based initiatives;
develop insights into key selected standards;
understand the criticisms of corporate responsibility standards based on Derridian philosophy;
learn about the aporia of rule-following and the aporia of decision-making in relation to corporate responsibility standards;
develop insights into how to apply standards despite their aporetic nature.
Despite its enormous success as a concept, corporate responsibility always faces the challenge of implementation on the ground. Waddock, for instance, defines corporate responsibility as ‘the strategy and operating practices a company develops in operationalizing its relationships with and impacts on societies, stakeholders, and the natural environment’. Inevitably, such definitions beg the question of how do we change corporations’ strategies and operational practices? What are the relevant issues and how are these issues addressed? While each company needs to find its own way in ‘managing’ its responsibilities, guidance is also provided by so-called corporate responsibility standards (e.g., the Global Reporting Initiative, Social Accountability 8000, the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code, and the UN Global Compact). Although these initiatives differ very much in their aim, scope, and operational procedures, they all recognize the essential role that business plays in building sustainable societies.