Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility

Surabhi C.
3 min readMar 22, 2021

Running a corporate business and willing to understand social responsibility?

Then, you have landed in the right place.

Today we are going to have some discussion related to CSR or corporate social responsibility. First of all, we should know where the word CSR comes from.

The possibility of corporate social obligation (CSR) was first presented during the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that CSR turned out to be all around acknowledged and affirmed.

The vast majority of what is viewed as present-day CSR is established in an idea known as the Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility.

What is the Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility?

In the year 1991 article “The Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility”, Dr. Archie B. Carroll, a business management author, and professor at the University of Georgia highlighted the four areas that he believed were essential in the corporate social responsibility of the company.

The elements are arranged in the order of importance which is now known as the Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility.

The pyramid is a basic structure that assists associations with arguing how and why they could and should meet their social duties. It endeavors to adjust the personal circumstances of organizations (benefit) with its more extensive, more high-minded objective of being socially capable.

These are the 4 main responsibilities of a CSR program -

  • Economic Responsibilities
  • Legal Responsibilities
  • Ethical Responsibilities
  • Philanthropic Responsibilities

Economic: The first and most important degree of this pyramid is a business’s economic responsibilities. As a basic condition for its existence, a business has to be profitable.

Whether this requirement isn’t fulfilled, the company cannot survive, and consequently, the company won’t be able to move to another level of the pyramid.

Legal: After fulfilling their economic responsibilities, employers have to ensure that their business operations are within the confines of the law. At this point, organizations need to meet their legal requirements.

As for the financial conditions, if legal requirements are not fulfilled the company’s survival might be at stake, preventing them from moving on to other levels of this pyramid. These legal requirements include, but aren’t limited to, employment, competition, and health and safety laws.

Ethical: The next level of this pyramid is your company’s ethical responsibilities. In this phase, the company goes beyond legal needs by acting morally and ethically. To put it differently, the company makes a conscious decision to “do the ideal thing.”

As an instance, in an endeavor to decrease waste, several coffee shops have started offering discounts to customers who bring their reusable cups.

Philanthropic: Once the economic, legal, and moral bases of the pyramid have been assembled, the business can move on to the final level of the pyramid — philanthropic responsibilities.

At this level, the company goes past its ethical responsibilities by knowingly giving back and making a positive influence on society. By way of instance, fiscal giant Wells Fargo donates 1.5percent of its revenue to various housing, disaster relief, and military-focused charities.

After almost 3 years since its debut, the Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility remains highly relevant. It is still mentioned, debated, modified, and criticized by academics, professionals, and politicians.