Social responsibility is a virtue that we can demonstrate through our buying habits and living practices and through an awareness of how these behaviors affect others around us. In the petroleum industry, which has a global footprint and the power to impact many economies and ecosystems, social responsibility takes on monumental importance. Companies in this field must incorporate corporate social responsibility (or CSR) into their business models to ensure that they wield their influence with the necessary forethought, perspective, and restraint.

According to Investopedia, corporate social responsibility is “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.”

In more concise terms, corporate entities need to be responsible global citizens in multiple respects.

What Are the Types of Social Responsibility?

There are many differing views on exactly what constitutes social responsibility in a corporate setting. Some commonly accepted examples of social responsibility include:

  • Philanthropy: Raising and donating money to charitable causes.
  • Volunteerism: Working directly with or for charitable organizations or events.
  • Ethical labor practices: Hiring a diverse range of employees (with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, religious faith, sexual orientation, etc.) and treating them fairly and ethically.
  • Environmentally sound practices: Minimizing negative impact on the natural world through the responsible use of resources, carbon footprint reduction, and ongoing innovation.

Dr. Archie B. Carroll, a noted business management author and professor, suggests a pyramid of social responsibility for corporations comprised of four hierarchical levels including, from top to bottom, philanthropic, ethical, legal, and economic considerations.

Who’s Being Responsible in the Petroleum Industry?

A list of the world’s 100 most reputable companies for corporate responsibility includes enterprises that manufacture and sell toys, software, coffee, furniture, cars, and more. However, not a single petroleum company appears on the list. The list may not be definitive, but clearly, the petroleum industry can do more.

Among petroleum companies alone, there are some standouts in terms of efforts to safeguard the environment. For example:

BP, formerly British Petroleum, has invested significant capital into renewable forms of energy, such as solar, wind, biofuel, and hydrogen, and has been recognized for its operational transparency.

Petroteq Energy has developed a unique process to extract oil from sand that creates no greenhouse gases or waste and involves the use of what the company calls “benign chemicals.”

Royal Dutch Shell is seen as a clean energy leader and is gearing its operations toward carbon reduction and investment in electricity. The company is also investing in solar energy in different parts of the world.

Total, one of the world’s largest oil producers, has a subsidiary company that’s dedicated to increasing the availability of renewable energy sources including hydropower and biomass. The company’s goal is for up to 20% of its sales to come from renewable energy by 2040.

In addition to petroleum producers, other organizations within the petroleum industry are fostering greater social responsibility. IPIECA is a not-for-profit association dedicated to responsible practices within the petroleum industry. The association also acts as a conduit for information between the industry and the United Nations.

How the Petrochemical Industry Can Do Better

How can petroleum companies earn a place among the world’s most reputable companies for corporate responsibility? The companies mentioned above are obviously going in the right direction and may inspire others in the industry to follow suit. All must work toward clean, renewable, sustainable forms of energy while pursuing their business interests. All must avoid polluting the environment and take responsibility by cleaning it up if they do.

Responsibility is not just about having good environmental practices, however. To be considered a corporate responsibility leader, a company must contribute to the greater good in a variety of ways. That includes allocating more time, money, and effort to charitable organizations and maintaining safe, inclusive, and ethical workplaces. 

Online Programs to Advance Your Energy Career

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers online degree and certificate programs that can help you start or advance within a career in the petroleum industry or another energy-related field. All programs are provided 100% online through our AACSB-accredited College of Business.

Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Industrial Technology (BAAS-IT) with optional Undergraduate Certificate in Petroleum Technology

This bachelor’s degree program gives you a foundation in fundamental management concepts, supply chain management, and other areas that will help you tackle technical and industrial issues for your employer. The optional graduate certificate helps you develop a comprehensive understanding of petroleum industry technology.

Master of Business Administration with Certificate in Energy Business

This graduate-level program helps you develop highly marketable operational knowledge and leadership proficiencies with regard to the energy industry.

Graduate Certificate in Energy Business

This certificate program is available as a 12-credit stand-alone credential and translates your accounting, business law, finance, management, and marketing expertise to the rapidly expanding energy industry.

Career-Friendly Online Convenience

All courses for these programs are presented in an asynchronous online format that enables you to earn a valued credential at your own pace while maintaining your professional and personal responsibilities. Our program courses are taught by the same acclaimed faculty who teach them at our campus, and many of the courses last just eight weeks!

Build the expertise needed to excel as a socially responsible leader in an energy-related career with a UT Permian Basin online program.