From Open Sustainability
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when a company is acting ethically: respecting social issues, environment, customers, employees suppliers and partners. Many companies now produce Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability Reports to demonstrate performance in managing these areas.
Corporate Social Responsibility is also known as Corporate Responsibility (so as not to confuse that it is just the social aspects but the environment as well), Corporate Citizenship and Triple Bottom Line. CSR covers a large range of topics and involves a range of people so there are a number of definitions, a popular one is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development "Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large". See link for additional definitions with commentary.
CSR as part of an overall Sustainability program covers the social interactions within the four main areas:
- Marketplace (customers and suppliers)
- Workplace (Health and Safety and Diversity)
- Environment (Environmental regulators, ENGOs)
- Community (Consumers, public, neighbors, NGOs)
Mapping to the Overall Sustainability Governance Framework
open-sustainability's Sustainability Governance Framework has been written obviously with sustainability in mind but can also be used applying a CSR focus. Where there are activities that should be repeated for a CSR Program they are listed below. Specific subject issues for CSR will be explained in more detail following. An important thing to remember is that the CSR program falls under the overall Sustainability program. Key items such as executive sponsorship and the development of performance indicators will be completed by the Sustainability Governance Committee.
Activity 1.1 Strategic Mobilization
Activity 1.2 Organization CSR Awareness
Activity 1.3 Overall CSR Business Strategy
- In some organizations CSR may be covered within the Sustainability Strategy, or it may be covered in a seperate CSR Policy.
Activity 1.6 CSR Governance Sponsorship and Scope
- Role and responsibilities for CSR need to be developed. This may fall under the Sustainability Governance team or may be better suited with a CSR specific committee.
Activity 1.8 Return on Investment
- The ROI on CSR projects also needs to be determined.
Activity 1.9 CSR - Risk and Opportunities Blueprint Completion
- The Sustainability Risk Assessment should also cover any issues for CSR
Activity 2.6 CSR Governance Policies
- Seperate polices for such issues as Health and Safety and Diversity are needed.
Activity 2.7 Sustainability Standards
- This is about defining what is called a CSR issue within the company. Setting the correct terminology.
Activity 3.1 Business unit assessment – CSR projects level
Activity 3.2 Detailed Business Requirements
Activity 3.5 Metrics * See below
Activity 4.1 Reference Material and Standards * See below
Activity 4.2 Assemble cross-functional project team
Activity 4.3 Review Current Practices * See below
Activity 4.4 Consult Stakeholders, Peers, Industry bodies, Associations and NGOs
- Engagement on specific issues as part of the overall Sustainability program
Activity 4.5 Project Execution
Activity 4.6 Monitor Performance and Report * See Sustainability Reporting
Activity 5.1 Results Collated and Analyzed
Activity 5.2 Continuous Improvement - Compliance Auditing
Activity 5.3 Stakeholder Engagement
Activity 5.4 Third Party Verification * See Sustainability Reporting
Activity 5.5 Continuous Improvement - Standards, Policies and Processes
Review reference material
Review reference material on CSR to gain an understanding of what issues are relevant for your organization. For a introduction to CSR, business benefits, criticisms and concerns see CSR - Wikipedia. Other sources of good information are Business in the Community and Business for Social Responsbility.
There is no universally accepted standard for CSR at this stage. The International Organization for Standardization is currently developing a standard (ISO 26000) and is expected to be released in 2010. Some countries have developed guidelines such as the AS 8003-2003 CSR standard in Australia and the UK's BITC Winning With Integrity guidelines.
Review past and current practices
Once you have an understanding of what types of initiatives to look for, start to review what your organization has done in the past in this space. This will help develop a picture of what types of community and environmental programs that have been sponsored in the past and what worked and didn't work.
Now review what has been going on in the last 12 months and conduct a gap analysis. This may be an easy process if there has been continuty in the CSR program, as you will be able to review the latest Report or speak to the team responsible. If not and your organization is at the onset of developing a formalized CSR program you will need to conduct a more thorough review. This review will involve interviewing a range of functions across the organization. Try to be comprehensive to ensure you cover all aspects of the operations and relevant CSR issues. Look to resources such as the bookmarks in open-sustainability and a valuable 'How to' Guide.