Skip to Content
OpenStax Logo
Introduction to Business

2.4 Responsibilities to Stakeholders

Introduction to Business2.4 Responsibilities to Stakeholders
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Understanding Economic Systems and Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Nature of Business
    3. 1.2 Understanding the Business Environment
    4. 1.3 How Business and Economics Work
    5. 1.4 Macroeconomics: The Big Picture
    6. 1.5 Achieving Macroeconomic Goals
    7. 1.6 Microeconomics: Zeroing in on Businesses and Consumers
    8. 1.7 Competing in a Free Market
    9. 1.8 Trends in the Business Environment and Competition
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  3. 2 Making Ethical Decisions and Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Understanding Business Ethics
    3. 2.2 How Organizations Influence Ethical Conduct
    4. 2.3 Managing a Socially Responsible Business
    5. 2.4 Responsibilities to Stakeholders
    6. 2.5 Trends in Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    10. Ethics Activity
    11. Working the Net
    12. Critical Thinking Case
    13. Hot Links Address Book
  4. 3 Competing in the Global Marketplace
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Global Trade in the United States
    3. 3.2 Why Nations Trade
    4. 3.3 Barriers to Trade
    5. 3.4 Fostering Global Trade
    6. 3.5 International Economic Communities
    7. 3.6 Participating in the Global Marketplace
    8. 3.7 Threats and Opportunities in the Global Marketplace
    9. 3.8 The Impact of Multinational Corporations
    10. 3.9 Trends in Global Competition
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    14. Ethics Activity
    15. Working the Net
    16. Critical Thinking Case
    17. Hot Links Address Book
  5. 4 Forms of Business Ownership
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Going It Alone: Sole Proprietorships
    3. 4.2 Partnerships: Sharing the Load
    4. 4.3 Corporations: Limiting Your Liability
    5. 4.4 Specialized Forms of Business Organization
    6. 4.5 Franchising: A Popular Trend
    7. 4.6 Mergers and Acquisitions
    8. 4.7 Trends in Business Ownership
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    12. Ethics Activity
    13. Working the Net
    14. Critical Thinking Case
    15. Hot Links Address Book
  6. 5 Entrepreneurship: Starting and Managing Your Own Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Entrepreneurship Today
    3. 5.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 5.3 Small Business: Driving America's Growth
    5. 5.4 Ready, Set, Start Your Own Business
    6. 5.5 Managing a Small Business
    7. 5.6 Small Business, Large Impact
    8. 5.7 The Small Business Administration
    9. 5.8 Trends in Entrepreneurship and Small-Business Ownership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  7. 6 Management and Leadership in Today's Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Role of Management
    3. 6.2 Planning
    4. 6.3 Organizing
    5. 6.4 Leading, Guiding, and Motivating Others
    6. 6.5 Controlling
    7. 6.6 Managerial Roles
    8. 6.7 Managerial Skills
    9. 6.8 Trends in Management and Leadership
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  8. 7 Designing Organizational Structures
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Building Organizational Structures
    3. 7.2 Contemporary Structures
    4. 7.3 Using Teams to Enhance Motivation and Performance
    5. 7.4 Authority—Establishing Organizational Relationships
    6. 7.5 Degree of Centralization
    7. 7.6 Organizational Design Considerations
    8. 7.7 The Informal Organization
    9. 7.8 Trends in Organizational Structure
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  9. 8 Managing Human Resources and Labor Relations
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Achieving High Performance through Human Resources Management
    3. 8.2 Employee Recruitment
    4. 8.3 Employee Selection
    5. 8.4 Employee Training and Development
    6. 8.5 Performance Planning and Evaluation
    7. 8.6 Employee Compensation and Benefits
    8. 8.7 The Labor Relations Process
    9. 8.8 Managing Grievances and Conflicts
    10. 8.9 Legal Environment of Human Resources and Labor Relations
    11. 8.10 Trends in Human Resource Management and Labor Relations
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  10. 9 Motivating Employees
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Early Theories of Motivation
    3. 9.2 The Hawthorne Studies
    4. 9.3 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    5. 9.4 McGregor's Theories X and Y
    6. 9.5 Herzberg's Motivator-Hygiene Theory
    7. 9.6 Contemporary Views on Motivation
    8. 9.7 From Motivation Theory to Application
    9. 9.8 Trends in Employee Motivation
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  11. 10 Achieving World-Class Operations Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Production and Operations Management—An Overview
    3. 10.2 The Production Process: How Do We Make It?
    4. 10.3 Location, Location, Location: Where Do We Make It?
    5. 10.4 Pulling It Together: Resource Planning
    6. 10.5 Production and Operations Control
    7. 10.6 Looking for a Better Way: Improving Production and Operations
    8. 10.7 Transforming the Factory Floor with Technology
    9. 10.8 Trends in Production and Operations Management
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  12. 11 Creating Products and Pricing Strategies to Meet Customers' Needs
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 The Marketing Concept
    3. 11.2 Creating a Marketing Strategy
    4. 11.3 Developing a Marketing Mix
    5. 11.4 Buyer Behavior
    6. 11.5 Market Segmentation
    7. 11.6 What Is a Product?
    8. 11.7 Creating Products That Deliver Value
    9. 11.8 The Product Life Cycle
    10. 11.9 Pricing Strategies and Future Trends
    11. 11.10 Trends in Developing Products and Pricing
    12. Key Terms
    13. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    14. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    15. Ethics Activity
    16. Working the Net
    17. Critical Thinking Case
    18. Hot Links Address Book
  13. 12 Distributing and Promoting Products and Services
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 The Nature and Functions of Distribution (Place)
    3. 12.2 Wholesaling
    4. 12.3 The Competitive World of Retailing
    5. 12.4 Using Supply Chain Management to Increase Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction
    6. 12.5 Promotion Strategy
    7. 12.6 The Huge Impact of Advertising
    8. 12.7 The Importance of Personal Selling
    9. 12.8 Sales Promotion
    10. 12.9 Public Relations Helps Build Goodwill
    11. 12.10 Trends in Social Media
    12. 12.11 Trends in E-Commerce
    13. Key Terms
    14. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    15. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    16. Ethics Activity
    17. Working the Net
    18. Critical Thinking Case
    19. Hot Links Address Book
  14. 13 Using Technology to Manage Information
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Transforming Businesses through Information
    3. 13.2 Linking Up: Computer Networks
    4. 13.3 Management Information Systems
    5. 13.4 Technology Management and Planning
    6. 13.5 Protecting Computers and Information
    7. 13.6 Trends in Information Technology
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  15. 14 Using Financial Information and Accounting
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Accounting: More than Numbers
    3. 14.2 The Accounting Profession
    4. 14.3 Basic Accounting Procedures
    5. 14.4 The Balance Sheet
    6. 14.5 The Income Statement
    7. 14.6 The Statement of Cash Flows
    8. 14.7 Analyzing Financial Statements
    9. 14.8 Trends in Accounting
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  16. 15 Understanding Money and Financial Institutions
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Show Me the Money
    3. 15.2 The Federal Reserve System
    4. 15.3 U.S. Financial Institutions
    5. 15.4 Insuring Bank Deposits
    6. 15.5 International Banking
    7. 15.6 Trends in Financial Institutions
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    11. Ethics Activity
    12. Working the Net
    13. Critical Thinking Case
    14. Hot Links Address Book
  17. 16 Understanding Financial Management and Securities Markets
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 The Role of Finance and the Financial Manager
    3. 16.2 How Organizations Use Funds
    4. 16.3 Obtaining Short-Term Financing
    5. 16.4 Raising Long-Term Financing
    6. 16.5 Equity Financing
    7. 16.6 Securities Markets
    8. 16.7 Buying and Selling at Securities Exchanges
    9. 16.8 Trends in Financial Management and Securities Markets
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    12. Preparing for Tomorrow's Workplace Skills
    13. Ethics Activity
    14. Working the Net
    15. Critical Thinking Case
    16. Hot Links Address Book
  18. 17 Your Career in Business
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 Learn the Basics of Business
    3. 17.2 Developing Interpersonal Skills Is Key to Your Success
    4. 17.3 Make Your Future Happen: Learn to Plan
    5. 17.4 Going to College Is an Opportunity of a Lifetime—Never Drop Out
    6. 17.5 Get Your Career Off on the Right Track
    7. 17.6 Self-Test Scoring Guidelines
  19. A | Understanding the Legal and Tax Environment
  20. Index
  21. References
  1. How do businesses meet their social responsibilities to various stakeholders?

What makes a company be admired or perceived as socially responsible? Such a company meets its obligations to its stakeholders. Stakeholders are the individuals or groups to whom a business has a responsibility. The stakeholders of a business are its employees, its customers, the general public, and its investors.

Responsibility to Employees

An organization’s first responsibility is to provide a job to employees. Keeping people employed and letting them have time to enjoy the fruits of their labor is the finest thing business can do for society. Beyond this fundamental responsibility, employers must provide a clean, safe working environment that is free from all forms of discrimination. Companies should also strive to provide job security whenever possible.

Enlightened firms are also empowering employees to make decisions on their own and suggest solutions to company problems. Empowerment contributes to an employee’s self-worth, which, in turn, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.

Each year, in collaboration with Great Place to Work®, Fortune conducts an extensive employee survey of the best places to work in the United States. For 2017, the top companies included Google, Wegmans Food Markets, Edward Jones, Genentech, Salesforce, Acuity, and Quicken Loans. Some companies offer unusual benefits to their employees. For example, biotech company Genentech offers employee compensation for taking alternative methods of transportation to work at its South San Francisco campus. Employees can earn $12 per day for walking or biking to work, and those who drive a carpool or vanpool can earn $8 and $16, respectively. In addition, the company offers free commuter bus service for all employees via 27 routes around the Bay Area.9

Responsibility to Customers

To be successful in today’s business environment, a company must satisfy its customers. A firm must deliver what it promises, as well as be honest and forthright in everyday interactions with customers, suppliers, and others. Recent research suggests that many consumers, particularly millennials, prefer to do business with companies and brands that communicate socially responsible messages, utilize sustainable manufacturing processes, and practice ethical business standards.10

Responsibility to Society

A business must also be responsible to society. A business provides a community with jobs, goods, and services. It also pays taxes that go to support schools, hospitals, and better roads. Some companies have taken an additional step to demonstrate their commitment to stakeholders and society as a whole by becoming Certified Benefit Corporations, or B Corps for short. Verified by B Lab, a global nonprofit organization, B Corps meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability and strive to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems via an impact assessment that rates each company on a possible score of 200 points. To become certified as a Benefit Corporation, companies need to reach a score of at least 80 and must be recertified every two years. There are more than 2,000 companies worldwide that have been certified as B Corps, including Method, W.S. Badger Company, Fishpeople Seafood, LEAP Organics, New Belgium Brewing Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery Co-op, Comet Skateboards, Etsy, Patagonia, Plum Organics, and Warby Parker.11

Environmental Protection

Business is also responsible for protecting and improving the world’s fragile environment. The world’s forests are being destroyed fast. Every second, an area the size of a football field is laid bare. Plant and animal species are becoming extinct at the rate of 17 per hour. A continent-size hole is opening up in the earth’s protective ozone shield. Each year we throw out 80 percent more refuse than we did in 1960; as a result, more than half of the nation’s landfills are filled to capacity.

To slow the erosion of the world’s natural resources, many companies have become more environmentally responsible. For example, Toyota now uses renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and water power for electricity to run its facilities. When its new $1 billion North American headquarters opened in Plano, Texas, in May 2017, Toyota said the 2.1 million square-foot campus would eventually be powered by 100% clean energy, helping the auto giant move closer to its goal of eliminating carbon emissions in all of its operations.12

Ethics in Practice

This Fish Story Has a Tasting Ending

Duncan Berry has always been an environmentalist at heart. Brought up on the Oregon coast, he was a sea captain at an early age, spending nearly two decades on the ocean before going on to become a successful entrepreneur in the organic cotton industry. After selling the textile business at the age of 50, he retired back to the Oregon coast to work on a state initiative to preserve marine habitats.

He quickly discovered that the state’s commercial fishing industry had gone into major disrepair since his seafaring adventure years earlier. Berry learned the majority of seafood consumed in the United States was being imported from other countries and more than 90 percent of U.S. seafood was being exported. In addition, great harm was being done to the ocean because it was being overfished.

Although several groups were already working to improve the commercial fishing industry, he observed that one key group was not part of the discussion: consumers. Berry decided a key component of change had to be involving consumers in the process. He spent more than a year meeting with everyone involved in the Oregon fishing industry—from fishermen to processors, distributors, truck drivers, chefs, and consumers—to gain perspective on why the industry was failing. His “aha” moment occurred when he realized the majority of fish is consumed in restaurants because consumers think preparing fish at home is too difficult and time-consuming. That’s when he co-founded Fishpeople Seafood.

Started in 2012, Fishpeople has a mission of changing the way people think about seafood by being transparent about where the seafood comes from, how it is processed, and how it is handled. Berry believes the company’s transparency helps consumers understand how the process translates into sustainable food that tastes good and is good for you. The company makes shelf-stable, ready-to-eat restaurant-quality seafood in the form of soups, meal kits, and fresh and frozen filets, complete with farm-to-table ingredients. On every package there is a code consumers can enter at the company’s website that will tell them everything about the seafood’s origin, down to the fisherman who caught it. Fishpeople also operates a processing plant in Toledo, Oregon, where workers are paid a livable wage and receive health insurance—benefits typically unheard of in the fishing industry.

Fishpeople’s products are available in more than 5,000 stores nationwide, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco, Kroger, and other grocery stores and markets. Recently the company announced a merger with Ilwaco Landing Fishermen, which will help further the two groups’ shared vision of supporting local fishermen and providing sustainable seafood to consumers.

Questions for Discussion
  1. How does Fishpeople’s transparency contribute to the company’s success?
  2. What responsibility, if any, does Fishpeople have to the local fishing industry?

Sources: Company website, https://fishpeopleseafood.com, accessed June 27, 2017; J. David Santen, Jr., “Adding Value to Oregon Seafood,” Built Oregon, http://builtoregon.com, accessed June 27, 2017; Elizabeth Crawford, “Fishpeople Wants to Fix the ‘Fundamentally Broken’ Seafood Industry with Increased Transparency,” Food Navigator, http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com, May 25, 2017; Fishpeople Seafood Announces Merger with Ilwaco Landing Fishermen,” Tillamook County Pioneer, https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net, May 22, 2017; Leigh Buchanan, “Why This Entrepreneur Ditched Fashion for the ‘Hunting and Gathering’ Business,” Inc., https://www.inc.com, April 2017 issue; Kate Harrison, “This Former Green Textile Maven Is Making Microwaved Seafood Sustainable,” Forbes, http://www.forbes.com, August 25, 2015.

Corporate Philanthropy

Companies also display their social responsibility through corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy includes cash contributions, donations of equipment and products, and support for the volunteer efforts of company employees. Recent statistics suggest U.S. corporate philanthropy exceeds more than $19 billion annually.13 American Express is a major supporter of the American Red Cross. The organization relies almost entirely on charitable gifts to carry out its programs and services, which include disaster relief, armed-forces emergency relief, blood and tissue services, and health and safety services. The funds provided by American Express have enabled the Red Cross to deliver humanitarian relief to victims of numerous disasters around the world.14 When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bayer sent 45,000 diabetes blood glucose monitors to the relief effort. Within weeks of the disaster, Abbott, Alcoa, Dell, Disney, Intel, UPS, Walgreens, Walmart, and others contributed more than $550 million for disaster relief.15

A photograph shows a large crowd cheering on a line of Tesla cars driving down a red carpet path.
Exhibit 2.5 Hybrid cars and all-electric vehicles such as Tesla models are turning heads and changing the way the world drives. Electric vehicles are more eco-friendly, but they are also more expensive to own. Analysts project that after charging, insurance, and maintenance costs, electric cars cost thousands of dollars more than conventional vehicles. Do the environmental benefits associated with electric cars justify the higher cost of ownership? (Credit: Steve Jurvetson/ Flickr/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

Responsibilities to Investors

Companies’ relationships with investors also entail social responsibility. Although a company’s economic responsibility to make a profit might seem to be its main obligation to its shareholders, some investors increasingly are putting more emphasis on other aspects of social responsibility.

Some investors are limiting their investments to securities (e.g., stocks and bonds) that coincide with their beliefs about ethical and social responsibility. This is called social investing. For example, a social investment fund might eliminate from consideration the securities of all companies that make tobacco products or liquor, manufacture weapons, or have a history of being environmentally irresponsible. Not all social investment strategies are alike. Some ethical mutual funds will not invest in government securities because they help to fund the military; others freely buy government securities, with managers noting that federal funds also support the arts and pay for AIDS research. Today, assets invested using socially responsible strategies total more than $7 trillion.16

Perhaps partly as the result of the global recession of 2007–2009, over the last several years companies have tried to meet responsibilities to their investors as well as to their other stakeholders. Recent research suggests that now more than ever, CEOs are being held to higher standards by boards of directors, investors, governments, media, and even employees when it comes to corporate accountability and ethical behavior. A recent global study by PwC reveals that over the last several years, there has been a large increase in the number of CEOs being forced out due to some sort of ethical lapse in their organizations. Strategies to prevent such missteps should include establishing a culture of integrity to prevent anyone from breaking the rules, making sure company goals and metrics do not create undue pressure on employees to cut corners, and implementing effective processes and controls to minimize the opportunity for unethical behavior.17

Concept Check

  1. How do businesses carry out their social responsibilities to consumers?
  2. What is corporate philanthropy?
  3. Is a company’s only responsibility to its investors to make a profit? Why or why not?
Citation/Attribution

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book is Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-business/pages/1-introduction
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-business/pages/1-introduction
Citation information

© Sep 1, 2020 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.