The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

It is no longer acceptable for corporations to be faceless entities that only care about profits. Instead, the public expects businesses to be actively involved and responsible members of their communities. This is a significant factor in corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR, also known as corporate citizenship, can help a business become more aware of its impact on the world around them, including its stakeholders, the environment, and the public. 

According to a survey from Porter Novelli, CSR is also an essential factor for employees. The survey shows that 88% of employees believe corporations must positively impact society instead of solely focusing on profits.

If your business is ready to implement a CSR strategy, this guide can help you get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Corporate social responsibility is when a business adjusts its goals to focus more on improving the world around them.
  • CSR initiatives have numerous benefits, including improving public perception, reducing waste, and cutting costs.
  • CSR goals fit into four categories: ethical, environmental, philanthropic, and economical.

What is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) combines a company’s operational planning with environmental and social improvement activities. The goal of these programs should be to reduce a company’s adverse effects on the world while still contributing to the business’s success.

Many businesses include their CSR goals and commitments in their official corporate purpose or policy and give their employees opportunities to participate in CSR activities. Some companies also abide by a principle called the triple bottom line. This concept measures a company’s social and environmental effects along with its financial performance. The triple bottom line includes profits, people, and the planet. 

Some important CSR initiatives include efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, hosting a job fair in a disadvantaged community, or making donations to charities.

This video offers a good overview of what CSR is.

Corporate social responsibility activities offer a lot of potential benefits to companies. Some of these include:

  • Improved public perception
  • Better brand recognition
  • Lower operational costs
  • Increased sales
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • More attractive to new talent
  • Organizational growth
  • Higher profits

If your business focuses on reducing its waste and cutting emissions, not only does this help improve the natural environment, but it can help you save money, too. Your utility bills may be lower, and your employees may develop innovative ways to recycle materials.

When your company is seen as one that prioritizes environmental responsibility and is a champion of critical social issues, you may see an improvement in your business’s reputation. The 2021 Purpose Premium Index shows that 73% of investors will not support a company unless they know it is helping the community.

Most investors only invest in purpose-driven companies.

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4 Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

While there are countless CSR activities a company can pursue, most of these can be divided into four key categories: ethical, environmental, philanthropic, and economic.

1. Ethical Responsibility 

Being ethically responsible means a business should operate fairly and use moral principles to guide its actions. A business is dedicated to ethical responsibility and treats all stakeholders fairly. This includes investors, employees, customers, suppliers, and leadership.

A good example of ethical responsibility is a business sets its own minimum wage that goes beyond what the state and federal governments mandate, such as a “livable wage.” A business that cares about its employees is setting itself up for success.

2. Environmental Responsibility 

Historically, businesses are the cause of most of the pollution and emissions that currently exist on Earth. Because of this, it just makes sense that businesses should make protecting the environment a primary objective. This would be the environmental responsibility part of CSR.

Companies can promote their environmental CSR goals in a variety of ways:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing water consumption
  • Producing less waste
  • Increasing use of renewable energy
  • Promoting internal recycling
  • Using sustainable resources
  • Funding environmental research
  • Planting trees and other greenery
  • Donating to environmental causes
  • Offsetting negative environmental impacts

3. Philanthropic Responsibility 

While philanthropic responsibility can be any positive action a business does to improve the world, it almost always refers to monetary donations. 

Businesses with philanthropic goals might have specific nonprofit organizations and charities they routinely support. Some businesses let their employees nominate deserving groups. In addition, many companies have their own charitable trust that they use to make donations for good causes.

4. Economic Responsibility 

The economic responsibility part of CSR is when an organization bases its financial decisions on its commitments in all the other CSR areas. Instead of focusing solely on profits, a company considers how each financial choice will affect the environment, society, and people.

CSR activities can be social, environmental, or economic.

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What Not to Do When Promoting CSR

The benefits of pursuing CSR initiatives are clear. Choosing to add corporate social responsibility initiatives to your business model is usually an easy choice to make. However, there are a few pitfalls you want to avoid.

  • Don’t use CSR solely for marketing: Showing the public and your stakeholders that you are doing good in the world can lead to a lot of positive feedback. However, if your philanthropic efforts are only used for publicity, your efforts may backfire. Employees and the public can see whether your efforts are genuine and long-term.
  • Don’t choose unrelated activities: Your business must do its due diligence when choosing CSR initiatives. If you choose to support organizations that oppose your core company mission, this could have a negative effect on your business. Instead, focus on nonprofits that align with your core beliefs. Local charities are an excellent place to start.
  • Don’t simply follow the trends: Some CSR activities are considered trendy, while others are legally required. While you can and should participate in these initiatives, if you have a sustainable idea that breaks new ground, don’t be afraid to be the first to try it. You could end up leading your industry down a more sustainable path. 

Business Partnerships Can Improve Your CSR

While reducing your carbon footprint and promoting more socially conscious initiatives are excellent ways to become a more responsible business, another area to consider is who your company does business with. Choosing partners with strong CSR initiatives can help you make a more significant impact on the world. 

Here at Televerde, we are committed to our CSR goals. One of our main objectives is to promote second-chance hiring. We do our best to help incarcerated women find a new path forward with in-depth marketing training and fair market wages. These women become skilled marketers and customer support specialists ready to help businesses like yours.

At Televerde, we offer business solutions for marketing, sales, and the customer experience. 

Are you ready to find more sustainable partners? Contact Televerde today to see how we can help your business grow.

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