Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly important consideration – for employees choosing where to work; for businesses choosing a partner or supplier; and even for customers when choosing a product or service.1
Even just ten years ago, CSR had nowhere near the same level of focus and attention that it does now, especially in the technology sector.
A key reason for this evolution is unquestionably the rise of social media and digital information channels, which make it far easier for people to learn about an organisation’s CSR performance and credentials.
If an organisation exploits its workers, pollutes the environment in some way, or neglects its community obligations, it’s now very easy for this information to become publicly available. This can affect the company’s ability to attract customers and employees, and the overall impact on their reputation can be dire.
Perhaps as a result of this access to information, people all over the world – especially the younger generations – are becoming more socially aware, and committed to actively making change.
Align your CSR goals with your business goals
Perhaps the most important thing to remember in creating a CSR policy is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. To be meaningful and effective, your CSR policy should be inextricably tied to your business’ strategic objectives and reason for being.
For a company that provides IT services to farms in the bush, for instance, there’s no real point in an environmental policy that is focused on clean oceans. Similarly, a focus on animal welfare may seem at odds with a company that provides cloud optimisation services to the retail sector.
Working out what your business wants to stand for may seem like a simple exercise, but it can actually be quite complex, and it’s not uncommon to have conflicting priorities. By ensuring that each CSR policy is tied directly to a business goal, it can add all-important clarity in the planning stage.
Practice what you preach
It’s all very well to set policies that relate to what you want to achieve, but it’s equally important to look inside your business to ensure you’re actually bringing that goal to life.
For instance, if your CSR policy is to create long-term employment opportunities for your people, you need to look at your human resources policies and processes to determine the extent to which you really support this. What is your maternity policy? Do you support part-time or flexible working? Do you facilitate ongoing training? And if not, how will you change?
Ensure your CSR policies are not just lip service and are reflected in everything from your policies to your marketing.
Be open and transparent
Once you have defined your CSR policy, it’s important to ensure it’s not just a list of objectives that get relegated to a bottom drawer – only referenced as part of a tender submission or when seeking new business.
For a CSR policy to be effective, everyone needs to be aware of the goals and have an understanding of the implementation. Be clear and specific about your goals, and share them with your employees, customers, and potential customers. If possible, always provide tangible examples of how you are bringing this goal to fruition.
Leverage existing foundations
When it comes to developing your CSR goals, they also don’t have to be built from scratch. There are plenty of existing frameworks and principles you can align with, build on and base your own principles around.
At Brennan, our principles are built on the UN’s Global Compact Sustainable Development goals, which we feel offer a solid foundation for what progressive organisations should be focused on.
Want to know more?
If you would like to learn more about Brennan’s CSR principles, you can read our full policy here.
- 1 Insights, Young people are socially aware but face some barriers to getting involved, [online],