Does your business have a sustainable CSR program?
Today, the world of business is competitive, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs need to go beyond just “donating money.” In order to be effective and admirable, your CSR roadmap needs to be strategically aligned with your business model. But don’t worry—we’re here to help.
Below, we discuss the basics of CSR, including:
- What is CSR?
- Why is it important?
- Some fun CSR examples
- How to create a CSR roadmap in your business
Let’s get started.
What is CSR?
CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility, which is the impact an organization makes on:
- The environment
- The economy
According to Investopedia, CSR is a “self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable.” Not only to itself but also to its stakeholders and the public.
Prioritizing corporate social responsibility means positively impacting society, the environment, and the economy in its ordinary course of business.
Sometimes, CSR is referred to as ‘corporate citizenship.’
Why is CSR Important?
CSR has gained traction over the past few years especially. Today, more than ever, consumers and clients look to see where companies sit in terms of their CSR efforts.
Katie Schmidt, founder and lead designer of Passion Lilie, puts it best. In an interview with Business News Daily, she said, “What the public thinks of your company is critical to its success… By building a positive image that you believe in, you can make a name for your company as being socially conscious.”
Business News Daily continues. “It is becoming increasingly important to have a socially conscious image. Consumers, employees and stakeholders prioritize CSR when choosing a brand or company, and they are holding corporations accountable for effecting social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits.”
Still don’t understand the impact? Here are some statistics that demonstrate just how important CSR initiatives are to the people you serve.
- More than half of Americans believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on key social, environmental, and political issues.
- 70% of Americans believe it’s “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place.
- “Many Americans claim ‘zero tolerance’ when it comes to infractions of ethical corporate codes,” including 25% of consumers and 22% of investors.
- According to the ECDC, 93% of CEOs insist that sustainability is the key to success.
Fun CSR Examples!
Did you know that Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s are considered leaders in the CSR space? Here, you can find a list of socially responsible causes that Ben and Jerry’s has advocated for since 1988. And here, a 23-page report from Starbucks detailing the global environmental and social impact they had in 2020.
Of course, we also have TOMS, whose company mission is to donate a pair of shoes for every pair they sell, Johnson & Johnson has focused on reducing its impact on the planet for three decades, and even Google! Did you know that Google’s data center now uses 50% less energy than others in the world and has committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects? Wow!
There are so many inspiring examples of CSR programs in corporate America that we at Culture Works believe exemplify purpose alignment.
How to Create a CSR Roadmap
So, now we know what corporate social responsibility is, why it’s important, and have even pinpointed some of our favorite CSR leaders, let’s now talk high-level about some tangible action steps in creating a CSR roadmap for your business.
Let’s get into it.
Assess Current Efforts
It’s time to get honest. Where do your current CSR efforts stand? Do you have any at all? If the answer is ‘no,’ don’t be ashamed. You’ll be a CSR pro before you know it.
The steps to assessing your current efforts require you to:
- Collaborate with key internal stakeholders
- Seek potential emerging issues
- Conduct oversight to ensure compliance with existing goals and practices
Really THINK About Your Strategy
While donating to XYZ charity down the road might sound great (and easy enough) in theory, it’s best to strategically select the causes your business wants to support. This includes identifying what your business already does well to maximize the effectiveness of your CSR strategy.
What Issues Are Important to Your Clients and Prospects?
Let’s not just throw money at the wall and see what sticks. When creating your CSR strategy, it is absolutely essential to ask yourself: ‘What issues are important to my clients and prospects?’
And why’s that? Well, 87% of consumers would purchase a product based on a company supporting a social or environmental issue the consumer cares about, according to a Cone Communications CSR Study.
Use this to your advantage.
What Issues Are Important to Your Employees?
Additionally, when it comes to CSR, you want to support causes that make your employees (and future employees) proud, too.
According to GlobalGiving, strategic companies use “CSR programs to protect and grow their biggest asset—their employees.”
In fact, 76% “of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and 64% would not take a job if a potential employer didn’t have strong corporate social responsibility practices in place.”
Broadcast Positive Impact
Once all of the kinks have been ironed out, it’s time to go public. This means spreading the positive impact that your CSR efforts have made on:
- Social media
- Your website (i.e. blog content)
- Community publications
- Monthly or quarterly newsletters
Shout it from the rooftops!
Tying CSR to Your Purpose and Culture Accountability
At Culture Works, we’re all about purpose. When it comes to an effective CSR strategy, it’s a no-brainer that your company’s purpose should aligned with your CSR initiatives.
At Culture Works, when we’re working with a client to identify and create company values, we tie their values to their purpose (which is then later tied to culture operations through performance accountability, your hiring process, culture accountability, and L&D—more information on these awesome topics can be found on our blog).
We know that developing an effective CSR strategy is hard work, but the benefit pays off tenfold. Interested in a similar topic? Read on for more information on why your company culture is defined by your purpose.