Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a rather new term but has taken off the corporate culture in the last 10 years. Although CSR used to describe a corporate ethic strategy and used to be an internal policy, over the years, it has been framed under laws and regulations and is characterized as an essential part of every respected company. But what exactly is CSR? CSR or corporate sustainability, sustainable business, corporate conscience, or corporate citizenship is a business private self-regulation, that promotes activism, philanthropy, and sustainability. CSR is also considered a strategy to enhance a company’s reputation and has been proven to be a successful way to engage with stakeholders.
Companies engaged with corporate social responsibility
As more and more companies turn to social responsibility, impact-driven strategies have taken off with some of the most successful companies setting an example. Lego has set the bar high as it is the first and only toy company to be named a World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers Partner, and is committed to using environmentally friendly materials in all its products by 2030. Another example is Levi’s social impact and Terms of Engagement (pdf), which established its global code of conduct regarding its supply chain and set standards for workers’ rights, a safe work environment, and an environmentally-friendly production process.[ref] There are many examples of social responsibility companies that have set the way for CSR to become standardized for every organization.
How to run a “CSR” company?
- Define your mission
CSR can be associated with many different missions and goals, but it is impossible for a company to engage with all causes. Therefore, the best way is to define what is the focus of the company and create a strategy.
- Create a team
A strong mission requires a strong team of professionals, that are specialized in social responsibility and communicate the mission of the company.
- Build a strategy
Like any other business model, CSR needs a strong strategy and constant monitoring of progress.
- Educate your employees
A company’s identity is indissolubly linked to its own employees. The best way to achieve a holistic approach to the company’s mission is to educate its employees and engage them with the cause it is advocating for.
- Engage with your goals
There are many ways to engage with your goals. Every company has its own tactics. It can be either through donating or promoting awareness or adapting sustainable production.
The “green lies” of greenwashing
Greenwashing is the misleading conception that the products of a company are environmentally friendly. It is used as a marketing tactic to engage customers and is considered highly unethical. However, there is no single legal definition for marketing-friendly words such as “sustainable,” “green,” or “environmentally-friendly.”[ref] For that reason, it is very difficult for consumers to detect greenwashing tactics. To give an example, in 2019 McDonald’s introduced plastic straws in their production which turned out to be non-recyclable. This is a very common case of a company trying phenomenally to address an environmental issue when this is not the actual case. Greenwashing has been escalated over the last years due to the demand of consumers for “green products” and ethical companies. The best way to avoid “green lies” is to always check the reliability of the company and research before choosing a product.
Donating to NGOs
A very common tactic for performing CSR is collaborating with NGOs and making donations.
Find the best UK-based NGOs that you can support.
Written by Eleni Adamopoulou