HR & Management

6 steps for getting CSR right

6 min read

26 September 2015

Well managed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives aren’t just for big business. Read these six key steps for getting your CSR programme right.

Social responsibility has become increasingly important to consumers, and research shows people are buying more from companies that we think are good for the planet and less from those that aren’t. 

If you are looking for ways to better demonstrate that you are a responsible business to customers and staff, there are six key steps to take:

1. Fully embrace it

CSR has moved on from being a silo within a business to being at the core of everything that a responsible business does. This is not a box-ticking exercise any more. Move your CSR initiative and objectives to the heart of your business, and engage with every department to ensure it is a success. 

An isolated campaign is more likely to fizzle out, meaning you’ll only have to start again in six months’ time.

2. It starts from within

Empower your staff to volunteer and build a culture of giving. You may be reluctant to offer paid leave for volunteering, but research has shown that volunteering is one of the best ways to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction – which leads to increased productivity and reduced sick leave. 

Start by offering one day’s leave in a six month pilot and be sure to measure staff feedback. Show you are a forward thinking company by rewarding civic value and motivating your colleagues to get involved. Your staff are your single best resource for sharing your CSR message and this will shine through.

Read more about getting CSR right:

3. Collaborate

It’s highly likely that your supply chain and partners will have a big reach, regionally and nationally. Find a cause which resonates with your supply chain and invite partners to collaborate to have a greater impact on society. Don’t be afraid to tackle big themes together. Causes like poverty, deprivation, homelessness, loneliness and green initiatives can only be seriously helped if we work together. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, don’t rule out collaborating with competitors – we are seeing more and more highly competitive industries pulling together to make change happen. Sustainable Aviation has been a prime example of this, bringing together all airline businesses to improve sustainability in the industry.

Continue reading more tips on page two…

4. Inspire

Motivate your customers to do more by showing the impact their combined actions can have on a community. Use your website, social media, videos, blogs and, if relevant, in-store messaging to share the story. Invite customers to volunteer side by side with your staff. 

People care more about people than businesses so be sure to share the message of the impact your project had on local people in the community. If the message comes across as a PR exercise then your customers will switch off immediately.

5. Find your fit

Make sure the projects and causes you back are ones which resonate most with your staff and customers. You’ll likely have a great local presence with strong ties to the community, so look close to home to find inspiration. You could raise awareness and help identify a good fit by inviting customers to vote for the project they would like to see supported the most, either online or in store.

6. Promote and celebrate

Be open with your successes and failures to encourage other companies to follow your lead. Collate hard business metrics like increased customer loyalty, sentiment and spend.

A simple way of doing this could be to use coupons, with customers who have a link or have supported a particular community project receiving a coupon to redeem in store. Staff feedback should be easy to measure alongside the impact on productivity and reduced sick leave. Don’t be afraid to publish these figures. Your customers appreciate that you are a business and there needs to be a return. 

Through being more transparent about your activities, collaborating with staff and customers and sharing authentic, tangible outcomes, you can make CSR a real differentiator for your business and a reason for staff to be proud of where they work. 

But clearly, achieving a return on investment should not be the only reason a business chooses to become more environmentally and socially responsible. In a world of scarce resources, doing the right thing by the planet and future generations is not just business sense – it’s common sense. 

Nick Davies is the founder of Neighbourly.