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Corporate social responsibility refers to a company’s initiative to evaluate and subsequently take responsibility with regards to the corporation’s external effects on society. Inherently, corporate citizenship would involve some overheads being incurred by the company, and conventionally at no financial benefit to the organization. However, the practice aims at promoting positive change, both socially and environmentally (Becker-Olsen, Cudmore, & Hill 2014). Initially, CSR was thought to be an intrinsic disposition by companies where they weren’t mandated by society or law to practice it. Nonetheless, it is an obligation necessitated by the regulations in business conduct. Companies should practice CSR because they are dependent on the society for their market and ultimate survival. This paper will entail to undertake an evaluation of the CSR practices that are being undertaken by Uber and further investigate any controversies surrounding its CSR practices.
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CSR Practices by Uber
Uber Technologies Incorporated is a service delivery company that integrally involves peer-to-peer ridesharing. The transportation network company also transacts food delivery, and has its headquarters based in San Francisco, California (Nina, 2017). Since its inception, it has experienced exponential expansion and currently offers its services to over 633 major cities globally, with its connection platforms being accessible through its mobile application and websites. The transport network company has taken initiatives to aid the community, or rather give back, having generated millions of dollars in revenue from its activities (Boulouta & Pitelis, 2014). One of the primary ways Uber practices CSR is through collaborations with multiple local organizations, whereby they conduct regular programs based on shared values. Essentially, the company utilizes its own in-house technology solutions for the purpose of addressing challenges faced by the community, that have a correlation to at least one of their focus area.
On an annual basis, Uber joins up with educational institutions, nonprofit organizations as well as social enterprises that are mainly located across the Pacific Northwest region. The transportation network company offers economic, social and environmental support to these organizations and institutions whose causes are affiliated to its four primary community influence priorities, which include; efficiency, mobility, opportunity as well as safety. In 2017, Uber engaged in multiple shared value partnerships so as to uplift the community. Each partnership had a specific goal that both entities intended on attaining. The transport network company collaborated with Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation to create opportunity for a segregated group in Seattle, Washington. To get a gist of it, it was noted through statistical analysis that approximately 70 million American citizen bear some kind of criminal record. This would translate to a significant one in every 3 citizens who are of legal age. Uber and DKB were aware of the great deal of potential that would arise from educating and reassuring businesses of the hands-on side associated with Second Chance Employment (Korschun, Bhattacharya, & Swain, 2014).
So as to create opportunity in society for individuals lacking clean criminal records, Uber proudly also supported Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation efforts in aiding employers to comprehend the vitality of executing ‘Second Chance Employment’ in their companies. Consequently, more employers have been influenced by the outreach and have had a change of heart regarding such individuals. More former felons in the state of Seattle have been able to acquire occupations that ensure daily stability. This initiative is close to the hearts of many considering the difficulty of getting a job with a criminal record in the US (Müller, Stawinoga, & Velte, 2015).
Uber has furthermore collaborated with the state of Washington, this time in Tacoma, with the primary focus of addressing mobility and efficiency, which are a part of their community impact priorities. In 2017 it partnered with Downtown on the Go so as to offer the people of Tacoma more solutions to navigating around the city. Tacoma has been facing one of the worst traffic congestion situations in the entire country. Experts blame the excess congestion on the towns’ growth spurt in population, which as a consequence brings about a lot of traffic. The collaboration between Uber and Downtown on the Go furthermore was aimed at advocating for more environmentally-friendly choices while maneuvering through the city (Porsche, 2011). Additionally, they planned on improving the available public spaces and provide some in areas suffering from intense congestion. Since the inception of the initiative, the city of Tacoma has experienced reduced petty crime incidences, which law-enforcement gathered was being triggered by the massive congestion of people in the streets.
The people are also experiencing a significant improvement in the flow of traffic in and out of the city, which can be accredited to its residents opting to use other means of transportation besides personal vehicles. This act has prompted substantial reduction in pollution levels from the city, with fewer cars on the roads. Uber has conducted further initiatives in the city of Seattle. The objective this time round was centered on opportunity creation, one of the company’s major focus’ in relation to community impact. It had been noted than a substantial portion of the youth residing within the city of Seattle was not getting the opportunity to acquire jobs during their years as teenagers (Boulouta & Pitelis, 2014). Most of these youth were from low-income backgrounds. The city of Seattle was experiencing an unemployment rate of 3 per cent for the entire demographic, with youth unemployment charting at 15 per cent, and even more devastating, 28 per cent for African American youth (Rosenblat & Stark, 2015). In an effort to reduce these discouraging numbers, Uber worked in collaboration with Educurious as well as the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative for the purpose of investing in the future of Seattle youth.
With the mentioned partnerships, Uber aided in the funding for summer internships for the young generations to actively participate in. The opportunity youth would engage in the summer internships located within the city at nonprofit entities such as El Centro de la Raza, Horn of Africa, Ethiopian Community Services located in Seattle, as well as East African Community services. Uber continued to extend significant support to the youth of Seattle even after the completion of their summer internships, through offering connections to education as well as employment chances. It transacted this through backing of the Seattle one hundred thousand opportunities enterprise (Korschun et al., 2014).
Uber has undertaken further intiative programs in the city of Seattle, to further its objective of attaining opportunity and mobility in community impact. The question of opportunities accorded to immigrants and refugees was a salient one in the state of Washington. Refugees as well as immigrants form an integral part of its diverse community, with a significant portion of them actually utilizing Ubers’ services for movement. Taking this into consideration, Uber in 2017 partnered up with International Rescue Committee (IRC) Seattle and offered support to their career development programs. IRC programs were specially designed to aid refugees who had previous professional backgrounds in landing jobs and getting their careers back on track. Furthermore, the transport network company continues to provide transportation for refugees who face inhibiting challenges in movement while attempting to get to; informal interviews, professional mentor meetings that are conducted on-site, and appointments correlated to their career advancement programs.
In a bid to help more immigrants and refugees, Uber collaborated with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) whose headquarters are located in the city of Portland, Oregon. The organization’s primary mission was to empower not only the youth, but also children, families as well as elders originating from all over the globe to start new lives in the State of Oregon and become fully independent. It has supported other well-meaning initiatives based in the state of Oregon, particularly Portland city. In an attempt to enforce safety, as one of its community impact areas of focus, Uber partnered with Oregon Impact, whose main aim is creating awareness on the risks involved with driving under the influence of drugs and even prescription medication (Korschun et al., 2014). Oregon impact wishes to educate on the impact of irresponsibility on the road on the driver’s family and overall community. The partnership with Uber essentially attempted to significantly reduce the number of traffic deaths as well as life altering injuries accredited to drunk driving.
The transport network company has undertaken yet another initiative in the city of Seattle, in an attempt to achieve mobility and opportunity in its community impact priorities. Seattle, similar to numerous cities within the US, is experiencing a housing crisis, with significant numbers of people being homeless. An organization bearing the name Mary’s Place works in conjunction with the community to relocate families into housing that is permanent within the city. Mary’s Place furthermore has worked towards developing long term solutions in an effort to decrement homelessness. Uber supports Mary’s Place through provision of funding to its internship program dubbed Empower U. The programs offer training, employment and experience to the clients of Mary’s Place. Uber is currently working with the organization to acquaint it with opportunities from the sharing economy that produce income. In addition, Uber offers transportation for clients who are in need of rides from the shelters.
Uber has attempted to practice corporate social responsibility with the mentioned instances being only a portion of the initiatives. However, the transport network company has been met with numerous CSR controversies over the recent past. An instance to consider is after Trumps’ executive decision to ban the entry into the US from seven states. The ban led to massive congestion at international airports with immigrants being stranded and at a loss. In a move to protest against the regulation, taxi drivers from the state of New York temporarily ceased to offer transportation services to and from the JFK international airport. Nevertheless, Uber continued sending their drivers to the airport and offering transportation, completely disregarding the New York taxi drivers’ efforts.
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This exhibited the company’s lack of concern for the detainees’ predicament. Ubers’ customers being enraged by the act boycotted the app by deleting it and flocking to Ubers’ main competitor, Lyft, which saw an increment in its downloads and rise in free-app ranking to fourth place on the Apple app store, while Uber dropped to thirteenth. Additionally, Uber has had issues with Transport for London, which is a local government entity in charge of the transport system in greater London (Nina, 2017). Uber did not have its license renewed to continue transacting their transport services in London by the transport for London. The transport regulator declared that Uber was not a proper or fit service provider to offer transportation to the people of London. The body pointed out that Uber exhibited questionable means of reporting cases of alleged sexual assault against its drivers to law enforcement.
The regulator further added that their primary priority was assuring the safety of London’s residents as well as its visitors. Uber had compromised on this key area through alleged breach of data that it used to gain information about its customers. Transport for London expressed their dissatisfaction with the transport network company, and concluded that Uber wasn’t fit to bear an operator’s license.
Based on the analysis it has been noted that CSR as being one of the crucial activities that many organizations have undertaken in the recent times and this is based on the fact it provides a means through which an organization can boost its image. There exist no direct benefits that companies accrue from CSR activities, however in the long run there are indirect benefits. An analysis of the Uber’s CSR activities indicates that the company care about the society but on the contrary it has come under sharp criticism for failing to take care for detainees. Such incidents paint the company in bad image and as a result may erode the company’s image if proper strategies are not put in place to address the concerns raised.
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