Corporations in America are exceptionally powerful. While they have been extensively monitored over the history of our nation for the use of such power to influence international relations, exploit loopholes in workplace safety standards, and much more sinister business, many corporations today are adopting a new philosophy- one that values the integrity and honesty of the company alongside ethical profit.
Corporate Social Responsibility is the belief that a company should not only strive to garner a profit, but be a catalyst for social change, environmental protection, and ethical treatment of employees. (Investopedia, CSR) While there are some inherent flaws with a system that derives its core meaning and usefulness from full employee and consumer trust in a company, (Such as a company “greenwashing”, supporting an ideology or social movement such as environmental protection while in reality operating in a way that is harmful to the cause they claim to support.) the overall growth stemming from Corporate Social Responsibility has been that of a positive sort, not only for consumers and employees, but also the company’s profits and reputation. (Investopedia, Greenwashing) However, Corporate Social Responsibility not merely a way for a company to rebrand itself in a ‘friendly’ manner, but a way that a company uses natural human psychology and a strong focus on individual wellbeing to create a more attractive environment for potential employees, increase workplace retention, and build stronger, more welcoming communities.
A branch of psychological study, titled Industrial and Organizational psychology, is closely tied in with the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility. It is, in essence, a study of how humans interact and act within a workplace. Studies performed by those involved with such field of psychological research are commonly used to address and fix organizational problems, optimize quality of work life, and help evaluate the performance of individuals within the workplace. (Industrial and Organizational Psychology) These findings can also help shape the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility into a workplace- using the predicted actions and reactions of employees and consumers to accommodate them as a business. Studies performed by Industrial and Organizational Psychologists on the execution of Corporate Social Responsibility in the workplace show that ethical examples lead to heightened organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behaviors, and higher quality relationships among co-workers.
One of these many positive outcomes of CSR studied using Industrial and Organizational Psychology is the idea that employees bring more of their “whole self” to the organization or business under Corporate Social Responsibility. The concept of “whole self” has four parts; psychological safety, psychological availability, values congruence, and purpose. (Frontiers) Psychological safety in the workplace enables employees to be more authentically themselves- springing from a sense of support from the organization- a community that allows them to open up, share new ideas, think innovatively, and collaborate without feeling unsupported or ignored. In essence, it encourages the individual to take risks and think in new ways they otherwise might overlook.
Psychological safety for employees is mainly affected by encouraging open and understanding leadership- providing leaders who are not only strong and influential, but accessible and attentive. Such a leader should also be willing to lead by example, to ask questions of employees and admit failures and mistakes, and encourage and acknowledge quality work performed by employees. (“6 Ways to Enable Psychological Safety in the Workplace”)