What is Corporate Social Responsibility, known as CSR for short?
You’re sure to have already come across the acronym CSR in the business world, a concept that has gained much ground and continues to do so… CSR policy is about controlling a company’s impacts on society. Does your company have a CSR policy? Find out more!
What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility, as its name suggests, is when a company voluntarily decides to seek out and assemble a whole set of sustainable behaviours related to its activities, and then put them into practice within the company itself. Although a holistic approach, analysis is based on two main aspects: environmental impact and social or ethical impact.
Whatever a company’s main mission, it will partake in activities that pollute to a certain degree. This can range from dumping toxic waste in nature to cleaning products used in the office. Every action a company takes has an environmental impact for which it is responsible.
In addition to environmental responsibility, the company also has an impact on civil society. Civil society includes the company’s direct employees, its customers and more indirectly, other people who may have a link to its activities, for example the employees of one of its suppliers.
With a CSR policy, a company enters into a process of responsibility and incorporates these different concerns into its operations. CSR analyses all of a company’s activities and takes its global performance into account to structure activity in a responsible way. We talk not only about a company’s economic, environmental and social performance, but also its local and global impact.
Today’s globalised economy means that a company’s impact and responsibility is not just limited to its head office but includes supply chain and distribution too. Work must be done both upstream and downstream of the company to ensure true integration of the CSR approach.
As you may already know, CSR is about finding a balance between the 3Ps: People, Planet and Profit. You gradually integrate sustainable development practices and social goals into your company’s operations to comply with a responsible approach while maintaining profit.
What are the benefits of CSR?
Integrating CSR into your company involves some effort… and you may be wondering what the benefits of committing to CSR are. To start, profit and responsibility are more closely linked than they seem! More and more articles show that a commitment to CSR leads to:
– Cost savings (energy, water, etc.)
– Attracting talent (future generations are increasingly aware and educated about social issues and are looking for a social commitment in their work)
– Motivating employees (for the same reasons, CSR is a culture of well-being for all, and that goes for its direct employees too)
– A more creative and involved management system
– Innovation (although increasingly common, the transition to a business model is still uncharted territory and requires new thinking)
– Winning new markets (CSR helps to open up not only to new practices but also to new partners and targets that were previously out of reach)
– Access to finance (corporate responsibility is everyone’s business. Sustainable financing is also gaining momentum. Banks and investors know this… the future is sustainable).
The advantages are many and varied because those positively impacted by such an approach are just as numerous and diverse. This offers your company a wide range of influence. CSR is a corporate culture that takes into account all stakeholders. Shareholders are no longer the only priority, the satisfaction of all those who are affected by the company’s activities is also taken into account.
Beyond the human and environmental aspects, your business performance becomes more sustainable. Attracting talent and engaging your employees leads to continuous improvement. The emergence of new management systems calls for innovation. Your new commitments reposition you on the current market, helping you to win new customers and gain new partners. This, in turn, helps to improve your competitiveness on the market. By integrating the 3 Ps, you make your business multi-dimensional and truly boost the possibilities for improvement and their benefits.
How do you set up a CSR policy?
CSR is a discipline unto itself. It requires an understanding of your business, creating practices and behaviours, implementing them and sharing experiences with your network.
A meaningful approach is not implemented overnight and requires some effort. That’s why a company wanting to integrate this approach into its own operations is faced with two options. The first is creating an in-house department specialised in CSR that will focus exclusively on this transition. Implementing CSR cannot be relegated to an employee who is already busy working on another task. It’s time-consuming and energy-consuming work, and requires a deep understanding of CSR concepts and practices.
The second option is to call upon CSR and/or sustainable development consultants. Consultants are professionals who, over the years, have assimilated CSR tools and have the skills to help you implement CSR in your company. They know what questions to ask, where to look, what essential practices to create and how to integrate them smoothly into your structure.
Not only is there a new strategy to adopt, but it also includes various tools essential for successful and sustainable integration. The most common CSR tools include annual reports, training to raise awareness among management, formalised feedback, certifications, and responsible purchasing policies.
CSR and sustainable development professionals are used to working with these tools. With their experience and knowledge, they help you build and choose the environmental and social commitments that will provide the right balance between social responsibility and profitable activity, in line with your company’s structure.
Only you know how your company works and can make the right decisions for a better future. This article seeks to make initial contact, a first step in raising awareness that could be – we hope – the beginning of a new perspective on business beneficial to all.
This article defines the main guidelines for CSR. No doubt you will cross its path again. If you’re interested and wish to set up a CSR policy in your company, or make your employees more aware of CSR, get in touch! We’re here to help.