Business exists to make profit; however, being seen as a good corporate citizen is an increasingly important factor to achieve that profit. Corporate citizenship extends across a broad field that includes good governance, sound financial reporting, and ethical decision making. It also includes the field of corporate social reponsibility (CSR). CSR is seen as the charity arm of a business, whereby business gives back to its staff and local communities, allowing its success to benefit the society that feeds into it.
The benefits of CSR are notoriously hard to measure. For example, how does one quantify the non-monetary impact of your staff feeling good about the work they do in the community? Or, the impression a client may have of your environmentally-friendly business? Additionally, when developing a CSR strategy, where does one start when there are so many needy individuals and communities?
Steps to successful implementation of a CSR strategy
- Engage with your staff – hear what are their personal interests and preferences for social responsibility projects. This will not only engage them in the process from the start, but it will also present a range of new ideas.
- Discuss at board or management level – take the staff’s ideas to a discussion at a higher level. It is recommended that you try to align the organisation’s strategic goals with the interests of the staff. This will assist in terms of building a sound corporate reputation, and may also give on the opportunity to deepen knowledge in particular area.
- Identify a specific place to work – identify an individual, community or organisation that you can work with on an ongoing basis. Sustained interventions are more likely to have success than once off visits.
- Do not assume your assistance can be parachuted in. Your knowledge, however well intentioned, may be misguided.
- Beyond financial assistance, time and skills can be the most valuable support you can provide.
- Align support with events already recognised, such as World Children’s Day, Spring Day. This lends itself to increased interest and media exposure.
- Check in regularly with your chosen place of assistance and ensure that the channels of communication remain open and respectful.
- Remember that CSR is a way of differentiating yourself from the competition. Make it work for your employees, your community and marketing goals.