Guest Post by: Katie Gibbons: Marquette University, Corporate Communication Major, Public Relations Minor
When thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR what companies come to mind? The obvious answer is to think of an American company because we hear so much about what company is doing what to give back to the community. However, many companies based in other countries also have CSR initiatives that are worth noting. A great example of this is Volkswagen in Germany, which focuses on sustainability initiatives. Volkswagen does not only have CSR initiatives in Germany, but has other CSR plans in other countries, such as a major environmental initiative in China.
What is CSR, anyway?
Corporate social responsibility is how a company gives back to a community in some way to someone in need. This can include anything from helping a nation in need of clean water to education. Often, CSR initiatives have some type of relation to the company. Companies try to relate CRS initiatives to some aspect of the company. If a company is criticized for having products that negatively effect the environment, then the CSR initiative can include an aspect of environmental efforts and sustainability to make things right.
CSR at Home
Volkswagen’s headquarters are in Wolfsburg, Germany. One of Volkswagen’s initiatives involves recycling old cell phones for a cause—to restore Lower Havel river valley, which is home to many different types of endangered species of plants and animals. It is important for brands like this to take pride in the home country and help solve a problem. Often, large companies establish CSR initiatives in its own country first to help out on a local scale. Over 3,000 phones were donated, so this was considered a success, and many people were also educated on how to properly dispose of their phones in addition to helping restore the river valley.
Environmental Education in China
Volkswagen does not stop in Germany. Volkswagen has partnered with the Chinese Center of Environmental Education and Communication and the Green Future Environmental Education Initiative (GFEEI). This CSR initiative includes environmental education for Chinese students. Volkswagen’s project partner NAJU gives hands on training sessions to teachers and educates students. The initiative has been deemed successful and has educated about 20,000 Chinese students in 30 different schools in 19 provinces between 2007-2011, and the initiative continues.
Volkswagen definitely exhibits global corporate social responsibility. Of course companies want to focus on the country that it is headquartered in, but Volkswagen goes beyond this. Instead of just focusing on Germany, Volkswagen looks at what needs to be done elsewhere. They are giving back to a community that is in need of environmental education. China is affected by growing urbanization causing the need to better the environment. Education on this topic is so important because this initiative is not just planting trees, which would be a short-term fix. Education on the topic has a deeper effect because it teaches people how to change habits. Now 20,000 Chinese children have the power to change their habits and have knowledge on how to be more environmentally friendly. Leaders at Volkswagen realize the negative effects that their cars have on the environment. Since China is so heavily populated, Volkswagen realizes the negative aspects of this and that the car pollution can cause bigger problems in China than in some other areas.
“Responsibility Knows No Boundaries”
As the image above from the Volkswagen Group states, responsibility has no boundaries for this company. Just because it is a German company does not mean that it cannot help others in need. This is a powerful statement for Volkswagen to live by and shows its dedication to global responsibility. Volkswagen does not discriminate based on country lines. Volkswagen is willing to support sustainability efforts across boundaries.