In the era of digital transformation, Corporate Social Responsibility is a global business trend that continues to rise. Not only are companies becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to the community, but consumers, employees, investors and other stakeholders seem to be demanding it more than ever.
Nearly two in five millennials say they have rejected a job based on their personal ethics, while 70% of Gen Z states they only choose to buy from companies they consider ethical. People are paying close attention to social and environmental impacts, and it’s imperative that businesses do, too.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility is defined as the actions and polices undertaken by companies with the intention to have a positive impact on the world. It refers to the moral and ethical obligations that go beyond state laws and standards, that is, imply a voluntary commitment and effort to further social good.
CSR involves business practices designed to enhance rather than degrade society, taking into account the effect these can have on employees, the environment, the economy, and other areas of life.
Why should a company implement CSR?
Striving for positive impact brings major benefits to society but also to companies themselves. A properly implemented CSR strategy can provide an important competitive advantage, helping a business attract and retain top talent, build better customer loyalty, boost brand image and media reputation, and gain trust among potential investors and partners.
Examples of CSR in practice
Today’s scenario is filled with both large and smaller scale companies integrating CSR into their business models. While small businesses can become involved with more modest actions, such as donating to charity, sponsoring events or helping the local community, large corporations have the resources to go further and aim for a global reach. Here are some relevant examples of CSR in practice:
The toy company has committed to investing $150 million dollars in the next 15 years in efforts to fight climate change and reduce waste. Some of its actions include the use of sustainable materials, reduced packaging, and investments in alternative energy.
The world-renowned coffee chain has adopted a socially responsible hiring process in order to diversify its workforce and provide better opportunities for certain groups, including veterans, refugees, and young people looking for their first job.
Climate change is one of Google’s top priorities, investing more than $2000 million dollars in renewable energy sources and sustainable offices, and claiming to be carbon-neutral since 2007.
How to implement CSR effectively
The first thing before starting your Corporate Social Responsibility strategy is fully understanding the concept and how your organization can fit into it. Once that is clear, these are 5 steps you can follow to integrate it into your business model.
Identify and examine industry problems
Start by asking yourself: what are the problems in my industry? Social impact programs need to be aligned with the company’s core competencies in order to provide value to society, employees, customers and stakeholders. Build the strategy around your strengths, knowledge and culture, focusing on specific issues that fall within your scope of expertise.
Define the solution
What can your organization do to solve this specific matter? Answering this question will determine the value proposition of your CSR efforts. Take this step as a chance to be innovative and show who you truly are as a company.
Make a plan
Now is the time to ask yourself how you are going to do it. Work to develop a vision that will keep you motivated along the way, and involve others in your decision-making. Ask for feedback from employees and customers, conduct an audit of your resources, and take all that information to trace a plan of action made of concise, measurable goals.
Communicate and promote
A Corporate Social Responsibility strategy needs to be accompanied by a thought-out communication plan in order to reap benefits. By communicating with transparency, you can generate more trust in your company and create a better working environment.
Execute and monitor
Your CSR plan is now in action, but is it helping to make the world a better place? Be sure to monitor your goals and track your achievements, noting what works and adjusting what doesn’t.
Today’s increasing demand for accountability makes Corporate Social Responsibility a necessity for organizations. The actions of companies can have great impact on the world’s current conditions, from human rights, job opportunities and the economy, to the environment, health and education.
By following these steps, a team made up of motivated re-solutionaries can implement innovative strategies that will benefit all players of society and create a better future.
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