Making the Case for CSR: The Expert’s Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility Guide
As society continues to shift in both demographics and technological advancement, it’s no longer enough to offer good pay and steady work. Consumers and employees alike are asking, “What does the company do for its community and staff?” Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is a type of self-regulation for businesses.
Also known as corporate citizenship, CSR is a way for companies to enhance their community, employees, and environment. Jen Boynton, Vice President of Member Engagement at 3BL Media summed it up best:
“Corporate responsibility is simply a way for companies to take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their business operations. A robust CSR program is an opportunity for companies to demonstrate their good corporate citizenship… and protect the company from outsized risk by looking at the whole social and environmental sphere that surrounds the company.”
The 4 Pillars of CSR
CSR efforts generally fall into 4 categories:
#1: Environmental: The environment is one of the core intentions of CSR programs. Businesses often leave a large carbon footprint and taking steps to reduce those footprints is good for the company and community. These might include sustainable business practices like recycling at the office, finding ways to eliminate single-use plastics, or purchasing recyclable paper. Utilizing renewable energy sources is also an effective way to reduce a company’s negative environmental impact.
#2: Philanthropy: Donating money, products, or services to the community or social causes is another type of CSR that is very direct. The more resources a company has, the higher the burden for philanthropic CSR. This could include direct donations, partnering with a charity, or even planning and implementing a service project. PLUS… most, if not all, of this type of giving back is tax-deductible.
#3: Ethical Employment: Companies can demonstrate CSR by treating employees fairly and ethically. This is especially true for businesses operating in multiple locations where labor laws vary. Corporate responsibility, especially when it comes to employees, should be determined by an ethical standard rather than a legalistic standard. Ethical treatment of employees should be equitable throughout the company, regardless of minimum legal standards.
#4: Volunteering: Volunteering shows what you’re really made of and allows opportunities for employees to become directly involved in service. In addition, you may choose to attend community volunteer events as a company or sponsor employee participation in charity events. This can be especially important as sponsoring employee volunteer time, either directly or through paid time off, benefits the community, employees, and public relations.
In addition to making a positive impact on your stakeholders, there are many benefits to CSR, including employee retention, positive company image, and personal and professional development. So how can CSR positively impact your business?
A 2016 study by Cone Communications found that 93% of employees want to work for a company that cares about them as individuals; 74% say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. In this way, CSR leads to increased employee engagement, workplace happiness, and morale.
Happy employees are more productive employees and better ambassadors of your brand. You could argue that engaged and fulfilled employees are the greatest asset your company can acquire. Happy employees also tend to stick around. Turnover is costly and can have far-reaching effects on your business. You can practice corporate citizenship and retain happy employees. As previously mentioned, offering corporate sponsorship or paid time off for volunteering is especially beneficial as it allows employees to take charge as active participants while identifying the company’s full support and participation.
Positive Company Image
That same study found that 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. Retaining customers is no easy feat, and acquiring new clients is even harder. Demonstrating environmental and social responsibility goes a long way in helping consumers see your business as a benefit to their community.
84% said they seek out responsible products whenever possible, which means your efforts, both environmental and charitable, make your products and services more appealing to a clear majority of consumers. 66% of global consumers would pay more to support companies that are committed to making a social and environmental impact. Not only does this statistic lend itself to perceived value, it offsets the cost of CSR. Investing in a CSR program invariably comes at a price, but that cost can be easily offset by consumer trends towards responsible business.
Personal and Professional Development
CSR can positively impact employee attitudes and expectations by giving them a different perspective of their community and providing a new skill set. CSR initiatives can enhance your team’s soft skills, like team building and skill sharing. Participation in volunteer work or environmental initiatives helps staff to grow personally, from new awareness of social issues to self-awareness of their environmental impact. CSR is not a one-off initiative. It needs to be fostered and embraced throughout the company. Getting employees involved will have a catalytic effect on your company culture, and CSR will become an integral part of your business, rather than an extra-curricular.
At Positive Adventures, we believe strongly that businesses of all sizes should demonstrate social accountability, and we work with others to help implement programs that are effective and lasting.
Some examples of CSR initiatives include:
- Donation-based Team Building Programs (bikes for kids, care packages for vets, beehive boxes for the world at large, raised garden beds for schools, and much more)
- Convention Caring Squares (large-scale give back projects that can be done from the convention center floor during your conference)
- Off-site Projects (Landscaping, Playground Building, Painting Murals, etc.)
- Charity Runs (5k or Fun Run to raise money for a good cause!)
At an off-site meeting or planning a multi-day company event? Combine an employee wellness day, team development program, and a dose of corporate social responsibility to reinvigorate your staff.
Are you interested in implementing a CSR program for your company? Need help sourcing a nonprofit partner or planning and coordinating a meaningful project? Contact us for information on creating effective and customized programs that are perfect for your business!
About Onyx Offsite and Trainings:
Created by the team behind Positive Adventures, a leader in experiential education, Onyx brings more than 20 years of proven expertise in outdoor education, training and development. The Positive Adventures team has a large corporate client portfolio currently being serviced, which will transition to Onyx. Their experience includes supporting Fortune 500 companies and top brands across the country and around the world.