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Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility is the responsibility of a company to impact the world in a positive way. This impact includes social, environmental, and economic sustainability and should be done in both practice and policy.

What is most important is that management realize that it must consider the impact of every business policy and business action among society. It has to consider whether the action is likely to promote public good, to advance the basic beliefs of our society, to contribute to it's stability, strength, and harmony.

                                                                                                                                                       - Peter Drucker

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility is the responsibility of a company to impact the world in a positive way. This impact includes social, environmental, and economic sustainability and should be done in both practice and policy.

In practice, companies can (and should!) engage their employees, local communities, and customers in giving back and moving society forward with volunteering, giving, and educating. Companies should create inclusive environments for all employees and customers.

In policy, companies should uphold governing laws and create policies and procedures around their CSR standards and goals.

In 1953, professor and university president Howard Bowen introduced the concept of business ethics to the world, in his book Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. In it, corporate social responsibility (CSR) makes its debut, documented on paper.

Social Responsibilities of the Businessman is the first known comprehensive discussion of business ethics and social responsibility in modern society.

Three Prongs to CSR

Also known as a triple bottom line, there are three pillars of corporate social responsibility that businesses must uphold in their programs in the most sustainable fashion.

Sustainability is one of the more important CSR concepts. Sustainable companies leveraging CSR are defined as financially secure companies that are minimizing (or ideally eliminating) its negative environmental impacts and acts in conformity with societal expectations.

Due to the nature of balancing ethics and economics, CSR programs are created to be long-lasting and therefore need to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Environmental Sustainability

According to a study done in 2019, nearly 4 in 10 Americans believe climate change is a “crisis,” up from less than a quarter five years ago.

So when companies incorporate environmental sustainability as part of their triple bottom line, the goal is for organizations to reduce their footprint on the environment as much as they possibly can.

These efforts include reducing waste and carbon footprint, investing in renewable energy, managing natural resources more efficiently, and improving logistics to drive a positive impact on environmental issues.

Social Sustainability

Investing in your business starts from within. Businesses with a commitment to CSR see productivity increases of up to 13% and turnover reductions by up to 50%.

When you invest in your people, the business's bottomline will improve. Social sustainability includes initiatives like fair wages, health care benefits, employee engagement programs, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

This pillar of CSR also takes into account the local community in which the company is located, ensuring that the company is driving CSR efforts to lead community service projects, employing residents to boost the local economy, and operating under public preferences.

Economic Sustainability

A newer concept that falls under the economic sustainability of a company is arising called corporate shared value, (CSV).

The idea around shared value is that CSR programs and CSR initiatives are key to a company's economic success, therefore incentivizing the organization to create ample opportunities to give back.

This third pillar focuses on CSR strategies involving the business' supply chain, reputation, and market share.

Though the triple bottom line philosophy is commonly accepted, there are pitfalls to this strategy. Most notably, environmental and social factors are changing constantly, impacting the market in different ways, while the triple bottom line philosophy has stayed the same since inception.

Some Successful CSR Program Examples

CSR at Sentinel Benefits

Take Sentinel Benefits for example. Michael Newhall built their program from the ground up.

“The only thing I feel like we had to overcome at the beginning was: “Can we do this the right way?” Michael told us.

In creating this philanthropic program at Sentinel Benefits, the team didn’t want to start from scratch.

Michael and the team looked towards publications that were highlighting companies with programs like this put in place and wanted to put a program together that would eventually be recognized for doing things the right way.

They implemented volunteer days for their team, a memorial scholarship for a local school, nonprofit speaker lunches to get the entire team more familiar with the organizations they support, and so much more.

CSR at Spreetail

Spreetail encompasses a lot. They’re creating innovative initiatives that we don’t see at many companies. Spreetail’s programming aims to inspire employees to participate in their communities.

Leading these programs is Chad Kilpatrick. Chad’s role specifically is unique in that he wears many different hats. After a company change, Chad was offered to bring along community impact, social impact and employee branding to the company.

Chad ensured that Spreetail’s programming aims to inspire employees to participate in their communities.

One of the initiatives, called New Beginnings, was built in 2016 and is committed to providing over 500 mattresses this year for families transitioning from homelessness to stable living.

Recognition is an important part of the company; every quarter employees pick a community leader of the quarter, and allow them to pick a nonprofit or two to donate $1500 to. Donation matching, paid time off to volunteer for both hourly and salary employees, and a celebratory yearly volunteer week, are also core parts of Spreetail as a company.

Learn more about Spreetail's CSR programs and initiatives here!

CSR at LogMeIn

Amy Wendel is Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility of LogMeIn.

And Amy and LogMeIn have been extremely busy during the Coronavirus pandemic.

They’ve given away thousands of remote work kits to nonprofits, schools, and hospitals to utilize their enterprise-level remote work tools. During the crisis, they’ve also matched employee donations to Direct Relief and set up Doers for Dollars, with different volunteer opportunities from home.

They’ve given back to the Santa Barbara Food Bank, the Boston Foundation, and St Francis House via gift cards for their workers, among others.

But Amy wasn't always in this role.

Amy ran the CSR committee with a colleague on the side while she was in Marketing and LogMeIn kept growing. So she met up with Bill Wagner–the CEO–for coffee and he recognized that this couldn’t be a fraction of her work, it had to be full time and he asked her to take it on.

He recognized that employees, customers, and investors wanted a more robust program: progression of a grassroots program into a full-fledge CSR program.

The team decided to name the program: Mission Possible – “We make things possible!”

The Mission Possible focus areas:

  1. Education and youth programs
  2. Critical human need — responding to disasters, crises, hunger relief
  3. Sustainability

From employee service days, to LogMeIn's annual STEM-in initiative event Amy has created an environment of employee engagement in CSR. Learn more about LogMeIn's Mission Possible programs here!

To get more CSR examples from the leading companies in the world, check out our podcast Changemakers from Within.

Corporate Social Responsibility Jobs

Corporate Social Responsibility managers within companies are responsible for bringing together people from across the organization to help their initiatives take hold.

You'll be conducting research on programs, nonprofits, and volunteering opportunities, create detailed plans around your research, partner with people inside and outside the organization to execute those programs, and then ensure internal participation for these CSR programs that are designed to have a positive impact on the environment and local communities.

Generally CSR managers will be working with teams like HR and management teams to drive employee engagement, public relations to increase awareness into the company's initiatives, internal employee resource groups, marketing to help with collateral for your initiatives, and any internal and external stakeholders involved in your programs.

The key to being successful in CSR roles is to be able to create relationships with partners outside the organization for programs, and inside the organization to drive employee involvement.

Find your next job in corporate social responsibility with these CSR Job Boards:

Just Means- The Leading Community for CSR and Sustainability News & Content

Net Impact- Career advice, resources, and job opportunities for people who want to make a positive impact through their careers

Reconsidered- Handpicked jobs in social impact, sustainability and corporate responsibility

CSR Stats and Success Metrics

Corporate Social Responsibility can be a hard department to measure for success. But you can focus on the individual programs you execute on, overall employee involvement, and public relations around your initiatives to help get a pulse on how you're performing.

If your program is focused on supplying books to a library, donating food to a food bank, adopting a family around the holidays, donating to a human rights organization, or working with a foundation that seeks to reduce carbon emissions - each of these programs can be measured numerically. You can compare year over year metrics to track how many books you've donated, pounds of food served, families helped to gauge employee involvement and community impact.

If your primary focus is on employee involvement, setting a goal to reach a certain number or certain percentage of your company's workforce involved in your programs is a great way to track success. 81% of companies who define CSR participation by giving at least $1 or 1 hour of time. Using this as your template for tracking, you can make sure you're measuring the right impact for your business.

Media spotlights also never hurt to drive awareness internally and externally about the programs you're spending so much time on. Never underestimate the power of public relations. In fact, 40% of consumers seek purposeful brands and trust in brands to act in the best interest of society. Consumers seeing the good that your company does will make them more willing to work with you.

Especially today, social impact is a huge part of a company's brand, partially in response to COVID-19 and consumer pressures to play an integral role in recovery. There's also internal motivations to drive up participation in CSR programs. Companies who have employees engaged in their CSR initiatives see a 50% reduction in employee turnover. Happier employees means they stick around longer.

CSR vs. Social Impact

Simply put, traditional corporate social responsibility programs are reactive. They are based around the corporation doing good in their communities through their existing practices.

CSR doesn't take volunteerism and employee engagement into account. Beyond moral and regulatory standards, corporate social responsibility is tables takes for companies. It's their legal responsibility as a company that exists in a community.

Social impact, however is proactive. Social Impact is the act of driving a significant, positive change that addresses pressing social challenges in your local communities.

Social impact are the programs you create in your organizations that work to create a better community around you like volunteering and food and clothing drives.

Whether you're just getting started with Corporate Social Responsibility or you've been implementing CSR programs for decades, there is always a new way to approach viewing your business as an ethical member of your local community, takes pride in it's corporate citizenship and finds a way to make an impact, whether you're based in the United States, like we are here at Millie, or anywhere in the world.