Corporate social responsibility is a concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment. Corporate social responsibility is represented by the contributions undertaken by companies to society through its business activities and its social investment.

Over the last years an increasing number of companies worldwide started promoting their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies because the customers, the public and the investors expect them to act sustainably as well as responsibly. In most cases CSR is a result of a variety of social, environmental and economic pressures.

The term 'Corporate Social Responsibility' is imprecise and its application differs. CSR refers not only to the compliance of human rights standards, labour and social security arrangements, but also to the fight against climate change, sustainable management of natural resources, consumer protection, philanthropy and volunteering.

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility was first mentioned 1953 in the publication ‘Social Responsibilities of the Businessman’ by William J. Bowen. However, the term CSR only became popular in the 1990s, when the German company Betapharm, a generic pharmaceutical company, decided to implement CSR. The generic drug market is characterised by an interchangeability of products. In 1997 a halt in sales growth led the company to the realisation that in the generic drugs market, companies could not differentiate on price or quality.

This was the prelude for the company to adopt CSR as an expression of the company’s values and as a part of its corporate strategies. Betapharm began by introducing programmes that allowed sick children to play with animals and take pony rides and later launched a school-based programme teaching kids healthy ways to express their feelings. Through these programmes, Betapharm engaged with the community - and gave themselves a strategic advantage in the marketplace.