Re-thinking the corporate social responsibility regulatory framework in South Africa
Yusuf, Sabrina Gulam Silva
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Corporate governance is a principle that has had multiple evolving definitions. The Cadbury Report (also known as Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance) of 1992 is a report that sets out recommendations for best practice of a company board. Although the Cadbury Report was ideally formulated to apply to companies in the United Kingdom, its recommendations have formed the basis of many international codes over the years. It refers to corporate governance as the "system by which companies are directed and controlled". Solomons also explores the definitions of corporate governance in her book titled 'Corporate Governance and Accountability'. She acknowledges the existence of ‘narrow’ definitions and ‘broader’ definitions. Narrow definitions are more concerned with corporate accountability to a company’s shareholders. On the other hand, broader definitions seek to identify corporate accountability to shareholders and stakeholders. This definition encompasses a larger group of people, which include the society at large, future generations and the environment. For the purposes of this research, the broader definition will be utilised. Simply put, corporate governance refers to the practice in which companies are managed and controlled. This is achieved through balancing the interests of the many stakeholders of a company such as; employees, shareholders, suppliers, management, the government and many others. Corporate governance aims to create an environment whereby the company is managed in a way which promotes the interests of the stakeholders. These include, but are not limited to; the balance of powers in a company, compliance with laws and regulations, identification and management of potential risks, and ensuring accountability for its actions. In a nutshell, corporate governance can be viewed as the responsible leadership, governing and sustainability of a company. On the other hand, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be viewed as a branch of corporate governance and this shall be discussed further below. In many parts of the world, CSR functions as a voluntary code of conduct. This means that corporate entities are usually guided by a set of principles of good intent. Corporate entities are expected to self-regulate their affairs with their social effects in mind. Some scholars strongly believe that the voluntary nature of CSR is its very essence. It is a value that has to be realized through free will and philanthropy. However on the other hand, other scholars believe that this flexibility can be misused.