A group of people wearing light blue shirts and lanyards are boxing donations. One volunteer makes notes on a clipboard while another holds soup cans to be boxed. In the background, two more people look through a rack of clothes.
One way to practice corporate social responsibility is to become involved in charities benefiting the local community. — Getty Images/dragana991

Businesses that practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) aim to improve society in some way. But how can companies that are new to this concept begin to embrace CSR?

[Read more: 5 Steps to Becoming a Socially Responsible Business]

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility refers to a business’s efforts to make a positive environmental or social impact. This can be an occasional activity or part of a more comprehensive initiative. By implementing a CSR program, businesses become aware of the positive impact they can have on society.

There is no one way to practice corporate social responsibility, but many companies focus on initiatives that benefit the environment, the community or the economy. Here are a few examples of CSR programs you can try:

  • Creating a job-training program for disenfranchised groups.
  • Finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Giving back to local nonprofits.
  • Volunteering in the community.
  • Implementing company policies that benefit the environment.
  • Committing to diversity in the workplace.

Benefits of CSR

You could argue that a company should implement a CSR program for its own sake. But research has shown that these programs have a positive on the business, its employees and its customers.

A report from Babson College found that a strong CSR program can increase market value by up to 6%. Companies can reduce systemic risk by up to 4% and minimize employee turnover by up to 50%.

Plus, practicing corporate social responsibility helps businesses build their brands and reputations and position themselves more competitively while creating more meaningful relationships with their customers.

But most importantly, corporate social responsibility is one of the best ways to give back to society. It allows businesses to be part of the solution to everyday challenges.

Implementing a CSR program can have a significant impact on your business and the community.

3 main types of CSR

Let’s look at the main types of corporate social responsibility and how you can begin to implement these practices in your own business.

Environmental

Your business can implement a CSR program that focuses on environmental leadership. For instance, you can look for opportunities to recycle your products or use environmentally friendly packaging.

You can also donate to environmental causes you find meaningful. Any steps your business takes to improve the environment will help your company and society as a whole.

[Read more: Brand Partnership Creates New Growth Opportunities for Bottle Maker S’Well]

Ethical

Your business can also focus on the fair and ethical treatment of your employees. For instance, you can provide competitive employee salaries and health benefits. Companies can also offer generous employee benefits, like tuition reimbursement or parental leave.

Philanthropic

By focusing on corporate philanthropy, you’re putting the well-being of others first. For instance, you can donate time, money and resources to important causes. You could also support a local nonprofit or charity that’s doing meaningful work in the community.

Another good option is to offer to match employee contributions to eligible nonprofits. This can help create a community of people giving back in your business.

[Read more: Chobani Goes Beyond Dairy and Yogurt Into Plant-Based Foods]

How to start a CSR program

Implementing a CSR program can have a significant impact on your business and the community. Here are four ways you can launch your program:

  • Do your research: Research is the first step to any CSR program. Before you can execute your ideas, you need to understand your business’s capacity and you should spend some time identifying a need in your community. Look for ways to tie those needs in with your values and skills.
  • Get feedback from employees: Your employees must support any CSR program that you implement. The best way to ensure this happens is by asking for their feedback. What kinds of causes are meaningful to them?
  • Implement a clear strategy: Once you’ve decided on your program's focus, you need to outline a clear plan for how to make it happen. Be as detailed as you can about how the timeline, how you’ll carry out your program and your desired impact.
  • Measure the impact: Finally, it’s essential to measure your CSR program's impact periodically. This will help you identify whether your plan is working and how you should adjust your overall strategy. Plus, measuring your program's impact is a great way to stay accountable to your employees and any external stakeholders.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

Event Recap: Scaling a Business

Watch the replay from our latest Roadmap for Rebuilding event, where the panel discusses ways to expand your customer base into new markets and use technology to grow.



Published April 06, 2021