Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – 10 Key Elements to make an Impact
by Monika PapadopoulosPublished on March 31, 2017
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as a company’s environmental, social and economic performance and the impact of the company on its internal and external stakeholders.
Some companies use other terms for CSR such as corporate responsibility, corporate sustainability and “triple bottom line”. Other companies prefer to treat each CSR item separately, such as environmental management and community or employee relations, etc.
The good news is that corporate social responsibility programs and initiatives are rapidly proliferating; we increasingly have the power, reach, and resources to make a difference. The bad news is that despite this multitude of such programs, most efforts to date have been neither strategic nor well communicated.
To be effective in your CSR efforts and to reap all the potential benefits, your company will need to do more than simply “doing good for your community”.
Companies will need to approach CSR strategically, as a viable component of their overall business strategy, along with marketing, branding, research and development, innovation, talent management, and operations.
In potential.com we have launched over 100 various CSR programs that address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and target youth, women, and Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs). We call these programs Real World Education. The most successful programs have been a result of strong alignment between the business strategy and the CSR strategy of the organizations involved in these programs.
Below are 10 key elements to Corporate Social Responsibility business strategy success:
Before designing a CSR strategy it is often helpful to assess your current CSR activities, looking at the whole picture what CSR policies, programs, and structures are already in place and where the “gaps” are.
Put it in writing.
Ensure that your company creates a separate CSR statement or embeds its CSR commitment within the company’s mission or values statement, code of conduct or other appropriate company policy.
Embed CSR into the company planning and budget processes.
The ultimate goal of creating a CSR management system is to ensure that CSR considerations are a part of all business decisions.
Develop processes for employees to raise CSR issues and concerns to appropriate decision-makers and advocates.
An open environment is one of the easiest ways to solicit valuable feedback on CSR issues and problems.
Formalize the board- and executive- level responsibility for CSR issues.
It is virtually impossible to successfully implement CSR in your company without board, executive and senior management buy-in, support, and accountability for CSR performance. Your ability to build senior-level vision and support will have a direct impact on the depth, breadth, longevity and overall effectiveness of your CSR work.
Communicate CSR performance visibly and frequently to all employees.
Whether through newsletters, annual reports, intranet communication, meetings, training or other informal mechanisms, make sure your employees know CSR is a company priority.
Put CSR on the agenda of meetings at all levels of the company.
This includes the board, executive and senior management, companywide meetings and departmental communications.
Provide training for employees directly involved in CSR activities.
This is an ongoing commitment since training needs will change as the company’s CSR issues change and evolve.
Create CSR accountability at all employee levels.
Build CSR responsibilities into the job descriptions and performance evaluations of employees at all levels.
Measure and communicate your performance.
Whether you choose to engage in an internally managed assessment of your CSR performance or contract out a formal external assessment of your CSR performance, find an honest and appropriate way to share the results with internal and external stakeholders
3 Key Areas that you should Measure your CSR Performance on
Many of the best companies now integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their day to day operations using civic engagement to create shared value to the community and business. Instead of just focusing on profit generation, progressive companies look at what is called the Triple Bottom line which goes beyond the focus on profits – the original bottom line.
These Triple Bottom line or 3Ps allows companies to evaluate their performance in the following areas:
People which focuses on the development of the community and adherence to fair labor practices
Planet focused on the impact on the environment and what is being done to integrate sustainable environmental practices
Profit the economic value created by the organization after deducting the cost of all inputs, including the cost of the capital
By focusing on these 3 Ps, companies can ensure that they are using business as a way to address customer needs and create jobs while maintaining a healthy surrounding.
In today’s business environment, Corporate Social Responsibility has become an integral part of a cooperation’s operations. With a clear CSR strategy communicated to all employees within the company, everyone will be working towards the same goals; reflecting its values and its relationship to the society.
To give you further ideas about various CSR Programs, check our empowerment page. We use the following form when we are launching a program on behalf of a client. Check it out, it could be of use to you as you launch your next social initiative.