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Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate conscience, corporate citizenship or responsible business, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a self-regulatory mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and national or international norms. With some models, a firm's implementation of CSR goes beyond compliance and statutory requirements, which engages in "actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law".

The binary choice between 'complying' with the law and 'going beyond' the law must be qualified with some nuance. In many areas such as environmental or labor regulations, employers can choose to comply with the law, to go beyond the law, but they can also choose to not comply with the law, such as when they deliberately ignore gender equality or the mandate to hire disabled workers. There must be a recognition that many so-called 'hard' laws are also 'weak' laws, weak in the sense that they are poorly enforced, with no or little control and/or no or few sanctions in case of non-compliance. 'Weak' law must not be confused with soft law. The aim is to increase long-term profits and shareholder trust through positive public relations and high ethical standards to reduce business and legal risk by taking responsibility for corporate actions. CSR strategies encourage the company to make a positive impact on the environment and stakeholders including consumers, employees, investors, communities, and others.