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Consumer Perceptions of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives Within the UK Women’s Fashion Industry

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Existing CSR research is primarily focused on a specific level of analysis

Instead the corporate responsibility management framework aims to contribute to a comprehensive analysis of CSR. Moreover it addresses the role of CSR practices in the fast fashion sector which has been rarely investigated to date.

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The landmark Brundtland definition has been streamlined, specified and made more relevant and contextual for a number of ensuing definitions. The rich perceptive and definitional diversity of this core concept has contributed to the subsequent concepts of CSR and corporate sustainability. A glance at the environmental economics (one of the fields that CSR has roots in) literature shows the concepts of intergenerational cost transfer, limits to and the depletive nature of resources, and compensating for natural resource exhaustion emerge as major components that characteristically define sustainability and sustainable development. A number of components have emerged in sustainable development definitions over the years in this context, which forms a base for the ensuing concepts of corporate sustainability and CSR. CSR has become a corporate behavior and management philosophy that an increasing number of firms worldwide choose to adopt. This can be involuntarily, that is to comply with legislation (for example in the environmental area), or voluntarily, to contribute some set of resources (for example people, time, knowledge, skills or money) for a social benefit or otherwise contribute to the betterment of some conditions normally outside the scope of the firm

One example of such social benefit outside the normal scope of a firm is where a telecom operator developed a specific cell phone application to leapfrog the sub-performing internet infrastructure in a developing country. Further explain that CSR can embody norms that internal and external stakeholders regard as just and fair, are a response to societal expectations regarding corporate citizenship, or cover active programs that promotes human welfare and good will. While there are variations of the CSR definition, a commonly applied definition is “a commitment to improve societal well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources”. While previous researchers used this definition mostly from a non-strategic view and from the Stakeholder theory perspective, this research intends to instead research CSR from a strategic perspective applying the Market Orientation theory and focus on customers. Since CSR has shifted towards being strategic (instead of ethical) with the organization as unit of analysis (instead of the society) a more recent definition is “actions that enhance a firm’s competitiveness and reputation”. Lastly, the comply or explain provision of CSR in the company’s Act 2013, should be done away with, if we want the firms to implement CSR initiatives in its true spirit. The concept of corporate social responsibility is now firmly rooted on the global business agenda. But in order to move from theory to concrete action, many obstacles need to be overcome. A key challenge facing business is the need for more reliable indicators of progress in the field of CSR, along with the dissemination of CSR strategies. Transparency and dialogue can help to make a business appear more trustworthy, and push up the standards of other organizations at the same time.

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CSR is no longer part of public relations practices for organizations. Rather, CSR is now being incorporated as part of the business strategy that organizations take. In the past, firms focused more in corporate communications and corporate philanthropy; nowadays however, CSR is viewed as an important differentiation tool especially in the competitive markets. As Gildea notes, the consumers is at the middle of the revolution since contemporary purchasers boycott goods or services whose production harms the people, the society or the environmental resources (Gildea 21). Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been on the fore front mobilizing and applying pressure on companies that violate what is considered as socially responsible/sustainable production or manufacturing processes. Among the most effective public pressure means are consumer boycotts. A 1990 article in the Economist, for example stated that “pressure groups are besieging American companies, politicizing business and often presenting executives with impossible choices. Consumer boycotts are becoming an epidemic for one simple reason: they work” (The Economist 69). The public pressure through boycott is usually marked by negative publicity focusing on what a firm did or failed to do, and such sentiments usually affect its sales volumes and profitability. The public pressure is intended to coerce targeted companies to change their policies regarding an issue; or to communicate displeasure regarding how the target firm is handling an issue.In 2010, news broke that Walmart and Patagonia were partnering in order to help the former “move up the sustainable business learning curve fast” (Kimball n.pg.). Through the partnership, Patagonia would help Walmart in developing a sustainability index for its products like it (Patagonia) had done with other entities such as Nike and North Face. As Walmart sought to introduce a scorecard to rate all its products on social impact and eco-friendliness, Patagonia seemed like the most ideal partner (Kimball)

It is worth noting that Patagonia is revered as a leader in sustainable business practices. In just one year, the Walmart-Pantagonia partnership has opened up to include other players in the apparel industry leading to the formation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). SAC has 40 members, who include industry heavy weights such as Patagonia, Walmart, Nike, Gap, and JC Penney among others.

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In brief, in order to make the clothes that we consume it requires a lot of the natural resources to produce them. One sustainable business model that can be used in the fashion industry is the Green Economy model

The issue with using the resources is that there will not be enough for the growing population. The UN environment states how to improve the human well being whilst reducing the environmental risks like climate change and scarcities. This has become a priority for the governments. This is important within the fashion industry because, as the governments are keen on this and many of them can be stakeholders within companies, it will encourage companies to invest such things like materials in a sustainable manner and initiatives can be taken in the future to improve so.

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Gereffi, Gary. “Global Sourcing in the U.S. Apparel Industry.” Journal of Textile and Apparel, technology and Management, 2.1 (2001):1-5. Print.

Gildea, Robert L. “Consumer Survey Confirms Corporate Social Action Affects Buying Decisions.” Public Relations Quarterly, 39 (1994-95): 20-22. Print.

Kimball, Jay. “Walmart Partnering with Patagonia on Sustainable Business Practices.” 8020 Vision, 01 Jul. 2010. Web.

Kirsten, Ann. “Promoting Sustainable Apparel.” Katerva, 2 Aug. 2011. Web.

Locke, Richard, Qin Fei and Brause, Alberto. “Does Monitoring Improve Labor Standards? Lessons from Nike.” Industrial and Labor relations Review, 61.1(2007): 3-31. Print.

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