Alphabet Inc. (formerly Google Inc.) implements stakeholder management and a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy through various programs and policies. The company’s corporate citizenship approach focuses on addressing the customers of Google’s online services and consumer electronics. Alphabet has other businesses, programs, and projects, such as its energy sustainability project for ecological concerns. However, the company’s social responsibility activity revolves around Google and its corporate citizenship efforts that were already in existence before the business was reorganized to become Alphabet Inc. For example, Google’s energy projects for its data centers are part of this CSR strategy. Thus, Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy and policies are primarily based on the operations of Google, although other subsidiaries also benefit in terms of corporate citizenship.
Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility programs support business goals and strategies. Corporate citizenship objectives span across multiple industries and markets, considering that the company provides computer software and hardware, including consumer electronics; digital advertising services; cloud computing services; and online digital content distribution, including video streaming. CSR initiatives address stakeholders in order to contribute to the attainment of the corporate mission statement and corporate vision statement of Alphabet Inc. (Google).
Alphabet’s Stakeholder Groups
Alphabet’s stakeholders can be grouped based on shared interests. The technology company’s social responsibility programs are designed for these stakeholder groups, most of which are linked to Google’s operations. Alphabet Inc. considers the following stakeholder groups:
- Users of online services (e.g., Google), consumer electronics (e.g., Pixel), etc.
- Advertisers and other customers
The list above is arranged to indicate the importance of stakeholders based on Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility efforts. These stakeholders push for the satisfaction of their interests, such as privacy in using Google’s products. Users are the most significant in terms of their effect on Alphabet’s business.
Users: Alphabet’s Top-Priority Stakeholders
Users are individuals and organizations that use Alphabet’s products, such as Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Drive. The importance of users as stakeholders is emphasized in Google’s business philosophy, which states, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” These stakeholders have diverse interests based on their needs and preferences in using the company’s technologies. For example, users of Google Search are interested in instant access to information. Users of Google Maps are interested in accurate maps and directions. Common interests among Alphabet’s stakeholders in this group include privacy and security of personal or sensitive information. Corporate citizenship also extends to the effects of the technology company’s products on users’ lives. For instance, users want to minimize or remove the negative effects of Google’s services on personal privacy. These concerns influence Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
In satisfying the interests of users as top-priority stakeholders, Alphabet has various corporate citizenship initiatives, policies, and rules. These CSR initiatives have the objective of ensuring that the corporation generates profits, remains legally compliant, satisfies end-users, and contributes to users’ communities. Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy provides users with tools and options to protect their data and give them peace of mind when using the company’s services.
Through Google, Alphabet applies rules for ensuring that advertisements have minimal impact on user experience. Another technology-based corporate social responsibility approach to address this stakeholder group is the set of security checks for users’ website passwords through Google Chrome. This initiative strengthens Alphabet’s business, and protects users and their sensitive information. Furthermore, extending beyond the core of the business, the company’s corporate citizenship initiatives include services that disseminate valuable information to users during pandemics, earthquakes, and other emergencies. Alphabet provides this service through Google. Also, students can avail of Google Store discounts, which are a corporate social responsibility approach that helps students and supports the business at the same time.
These corporate social responsibility programs agree with Alphabet’s (Google’s) generic strategies for competitive advantage, and strategies for intensive growth. The programs support business profitability and address the concerns of end-users as stakeholders. Competitors, such as Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, have comparable corporate social responsibility strategies for end-users. In this regard, Alphabet’s corporate citizenship represents industry best practices. However, CSR program implementations are specific to the company’s technological assets. For example, information dissemination is easily achieved through Google and its global customer base. Compared to Alphabet, other companies, such as eBay, Netflix, and Verizon, do not have comparable online reach for immediate global information dissemination in support of their own corporate social responsibility strategies.
Employees are stakeholders affecting Alphabet’s CSR programs. Employees are interested in competitive compensation, a rewarding experience in working for the technology company, and proper work-life balance. People want to work for Google because the company is perceived as one of the best employers. However, many large technology corporations compete in the labor market, resulting in workers’ considerable bargaining power. Thus, Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy strives to attract and retain workers by promoting desirable work conditions that benefit employees at work and outside the workplace.
To address the interests of employees as a stakeholder group, corporate citizenship efforts include Alphabet’s (Google’s) competitive compensation, incentives, and benefits. Google’s creative workplace designs and flexible workflows also benefit the business while providing positive experiences among employees. Some of the company’s facilities allow workers to exercise and play games while sharing ideas with each other, in support of an enjoyable work-life balance, as well as technological innovation in the business. These workplace characteristics are based on Alphabet’s (Google’s) organizational culture or corporate culture, which facilitates programs in this aspect of corporate social responsibility.
Initiatives for corporate social responsibility depend on Alphabet’s (Google’s) organizational structure or corporate structure. For example, the company’s divisions and teams maintain processes that enable employees to achieve their desired work-life balance, while contributing to the growth of the technology business. Also, Alphabet’s company structure promotes the sharing of ideas that can be used for corporate citizenship programs. Thus, business structure influences corporate social responsibility success for stakeholders of the information technology corporation and its subsidiaries, such as Google.
Employees’ interests as stakeholders are also addressed through Alphabet’s (Google’s) human resource management, including job design, as well as training and performance management. Through HRM practices, the company directly approaches the work aspect of the work-life balance, while indirectly contributing to the life aspect of this balance. For example, Alphabet’s (Google’s) recruitment, selection, and retention policies are designed to satisfy employees’ concerns, including those beyond the workplace. Thus, the information technology company has a holistic corporate social responsibility strategy for employees.
Alphabet’s success partly depends on the firm’s corporate social responsibility efforts for satisfying advertisers as a stakeholder group. Advertisers are the company’s main revenue source through Google’s operations. Advertisers on Google directly determine Alphabet’s financial performance. These stakeholders are interested in effective services, such as online advertising campaigns, and the protection of their respective brands and businesses.
Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy addresses this stakeholder group through tools and measures alongside digital advertising services. For example, Google’s advertising network of websites and mobile apps allows advertisers to reach their target customers. This network has security measures, such as automatic detection of invalid clicks on ads. These invalid clicks are ignored in order to protect advertisers from unfair or unwarranted ad spending. Moreover, Google has policies for disabling ad displays on webpages that have controversial content, in order to protect advertisers’ brands. Thus, Alphabet’s operations include advertising services, as well as measures pertaining to corporate social responsibility, specifically brand and business protection for the stakeholder group of advertisers.
Corporate citizenship affects business performance in the face of the strong competitive force determined in the Porter’s Five Forces analysis of Alphabet Inc. (Google). Advertisers may be more attracted to service providers that have better corporate social responsibility programs. In this regard, Alphabet’s (Google’s) marketing mix (4Ps) is essential to communicating to customers about how the advertising business addresses corporate citizenship concerns.
Since it went public in 2004, Google (now Alphabet) considers investors as a major stakeholder group influencing its corporate social responsibility activities. Investors are interested in the company’s profitability and growth beyond its current information technology products and markets, which mainly revolve around Google’s operations. This stakeholder group is important to the company’s corporate citizenship because investors determine the capital available to Alphabet’s business.
Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy focuses on developing technologies with high business potential. For example, the subsidiary, DeepMind, focuses on artificial intelligence that can be integrated into the company’s current technologies, including Waymo’s autonomous driving technology and Google’s Search service. These products’ usefulness makes them popular and profitable, thereby satisfying the financial interests of the stakeholder group of Alphabet’s investors. In addition, research and development strategies contribute to the company’s approach to its corporate social responsibilities. These R&D strategies aim to provide useful products that are profitable, while also solving problems relevant to Alphabet’s corporate citizenship. For example, through Google, the company provides open-source access to the TensorFlow software library for artificial intelligence. This open-source access gives additional tools for developers outside the company, improves the software library, and enhances the company’s products.
In planning for corporate social responsibilities, the business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats shown in the SWOT analysis of Alphabet (Google) are accounted for. For example, the profitability of new artificial intelligence technology depends on the response of competitors, including IBM and Boston Dynamics (a Hyundai subsidiary), both of which have their own artificial intelligence projects that are competitive threats in the industry.
Other business aspects that affect the stakeholder group of investors include Alphabet’s (and Google’s) operations management. Operations management effectiveness determines business process efficiencies, which translate to the technology corporation’s productivity and profitability. Also, Alphabet’s (Google’s) inventory management policies affect efficiencies that enable the satisfaction of corporate social responsibilities.
Governments are stakeholders of the information technology business. Governments enforce regulations that affect Alphabet and its subsidiaries, such as Google. For example, the European Union’s data protection regulations limit the amount and kind of data that online companies can collect from end-users or customers. In the context of Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy, these stakeholders are interested in business compliance with all regulatory requirements, and the company’s contribution to economic development.
Google’s business philosophy states, “You can make money without doing evil.” With this philosophy, the digital advertising corporation ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. Alphabet aligns its corporate citizenship with regulations, in order to strengthen its brand image. Corporate social responsibility programs and regulatory compliance are publicly stated on the company’s websites to inform stakeholders, and to show customers that the company fulfills its part in contributing to society.
Communities, as stakeholders in Alphabet’s business, are an extension of users or customers who access Google’s technologies and online services. Communities socially influence customers’ and investors’ responses to Alphabet Inc. The company’s corporate social responsibility strategy supports communities through technologies and financial assistance.
Communities are interested in direct and indirect benefits from Alphabet. These benefits include charity programs, philanthropic activities, employment opportunities, and ecological policies for environmental protection. Such a diversity of benefits means that Alphabet and its subsidiaries, like Google, employ various corporate citizenship approaches to meet the interests of the stakeholder group of communities. However, the company typically focuses on financial and technological approaches.
Alphabet’s corporate social responsibility strategy directly and indirectly satisfies communities’ concerns. Google.org has charity programs that provide grants and investments for community development. Google.org aims to address climate change, public health issues, and poverty. Also, Alphabet indirectly addresses the working conditions of suppliers’ employees through the Google Supplier Code of Conduct, which pertains to employment practices and occupational health and safety affecting workers and communities.
Alphabet’s Corporate Social Responsibility Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests
Alphabet’s corporate citizenship strategy directly and indirectly satisfies the interests of stakeholder groups. The bulk of this strategy focuses on financial assistance and information technologies, especially through Google. This corporate social responsibility strategy aligns with the trends and issues affecting the industry, such as those identified in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of Alphabet (Google). Considering ecological trends influencing international markets, the information technology business has green energy initiatives to address climate change. Alphabet also funds community development, to address social and economic trends.
The centrality of information technologies in the company’s business processes means that corporate social responsibility programs also tend to involve or revolve around these technologies. Google’s sustainable energy plans focus on its data centers’ energy requirements. Information dissemination to support communities during disasters also involves Google’s online products. Therefore, Alphabet’s corporate citizenship efforts maximize the utility and benefits of the company’s technological resources, while addressing the interests of various stakeholder groups.
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