This study aims to investigate the historical evolution of the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), with a particular focus on the main theories and events that led it to no longer be a voluntary choice but a necessity for the company’s long-term survival. The article will first analyze the main definitions in the literature to determine the aspects that characterize it. Subsequently, using a theoretical approach, a literature review will be performed to describe its historical evolution, starting from its birth during the Industrial Revolution period (1760-1840) up to the present day. The analysis results show that, in the scientific debate, the CSR concept was initially focused on the workers’ well-being and, subsequently, it expanded its scope and significance to include all stakeholders’ categories. Furthermore, it emerged that CSR become a necessity for the companies’ long-term survival, especially in the post-pandemic period. For this reason, companies must develop new business models to face sustainability issues and meet social needs.