Hmm. What I Understand About Corporate Responsibility

What do you understand by the term Corporate Social Responsibility?

What I understand about corporate social responsibility is that a firm does have a duty to providing a product or service that positively impacts society, while also minimizing the negative effects of that product or service.

In the WSJ, they published an article (you can read here) that discussed how the food coloring that has historically been put in general mills cereals, has been tied to ADHD in kids. Being a socially responsible company, General Mills made modifications to their ingredients, and chose to use purple carrots, beets, and radishes to color their cereals in the safest way possible. After receiving numerous amounts of complaints from mothers who said that their kids did not enjoy the new formula of Trix cereal, General Mills recently switched the ingredients of Trix cereal back to the harmful food coloring ingredients of old.


This is an example of a company doing what I believe was the socially responsible thing. They removed food coloring ingredients that were linked to harming people within society. However, many things in business are dictated by the marketplace. All business decisions are made with an understanding of how it directly effects their market audience. Being socially responsible as a firm may often means playing to more than audiences. Although it could potentially hurt their profit margin, they can offer the market both products over a set period of time and see which version of cereal performs best. 

Comment from a classmate:

I am going to have to disagree with you, when you say that by them going back to the ways of old is an example of corporate social responsibility. When they initially changed the recipe this was definitely an example of corporate social responsibility. By your definition, you said that this term to you meant "that a firm does have a duty to providing a product or service that positively impacts society. Thus meaning profit margins must take a back seat to social issues. 

My Response

I'm not sure where you read that General Mills, going back to the old (ingredients), is an example of corporate social responsibility.

The socially responsible action General Mills took, was to remove the harmful ingredients.

This is what I stated above in the first comment:

" General Mills made modifications to their ingredients, and chose to use purple carrots, beets, and radishes to color their cereals in the safest way possible."

The FULL definition of corporate responsibility that was stated above is: 

"a firm does have a duty to providing a product or service that positively impacts society, while also minimizing the negative effects of that product or service."

The definition of corporate responsibility according to the textbook is:

—the obligation toward society assumed by business. A socially responsible business maximizes its positive effects on society and minimizes its negative effects. 

I am not sure what you were referencing with your comments. If you were to restate you answer with quotes or specific details, that may provide a better understanding of what you did not agree with.