Having a ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR)’ strategy was something that used to be the sole preserve of giant corporations.
But with the social and environmental impacts of business being ever more transparent, it’s good practice for every business – both large and small – to have a CSR policy that reflects your core values and goals as an organisation.
- What is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy?
CSR is a form of self-regulation. Your CSR strategy measures the impact your business has on the local community and environment, and will help you focus your efforts on providing charitable support, community interactions and other ways of improving your positive impact.
- How do you improve your social and environmental impact as a business?
Your CSR strategy helps you proactively improve your company’s social and environmental impacts – so you carry out positive work and make your business into a good global citizen.
This could mean cutting your emissions and carbon footprint as a business. It could mean hiring more local people to boost the economy. Or it could mean working with nearby charities, not-for-profit organisations or social enterprises to support good work in your community.
- Why should your CSR strategy mirror your organisation’s core values?
As a business, you almost certainly have a set of core values that define how you do business. Your CSR strategy should reflect those core values. This helps you demonstrate the ways that your values, beliefs and long-term goals are ingrained in your long-term business plan.
For example, if ‘thinking greener’ is one of your core values, you need evidence that your CSR strategy is focused on making your operations more sustainable. If ‘community minded’ is a core value, you must be able to show how you’re reaching out to your local community to offer charitable help, funding and support etc.
- How do you measure your CSR performance?
The key to measuring your CSR performance is to set clear targets for each area of your CSR strategy. By setting clear goals and timelines, you can track the business against these aims and measure your performance over time.
Including your CSR aims and performance in your annual report is a great way to hold yourself to account, while also being transparent and public about your performance.
There are Apps available such as Cogo and Evalue8 which help you measure and manage your carbon footprint which you can then share with your customers and stakeholders. This also helps to keep your carbon emissions reporting up to date as your accounting and help you to identify potential areas for energy savings empowering you to take action and reduce your carbon emissions.
- What’s the best way to promote your CSR strategy?
Talking about your CSR goals and performance is an important part of being transparent about the good work you’re doing. But be careful about your wording and resist the temptation to make this a case of self-promotion.
If you run an event with a local charity, blog about it, or post a video from the day, and make sure you give the charity plenty of space to talk. If you’re doing work to help cut your use of single-use plastics, include a short update in your next newsletter, or ask staff for their ideas on how to meet this goal more effectively.
Start thinking about your corporate social responsibility strategy
Having a transparent CSR strategy should be an important goal for any business. Consumers and business clients want to know what their favourite companies are doing to improve the company’s impacts on the outside world.