In the past, the main focus of organizations was to be profitable and to deliver financial outcomes for investors and shareholders. But as societal shifts have occurred, there has been increased emphasis on an organization’s ability to contribute to the greater good. Organizations have the ability – and duty – to not only focus on profits, but to listen to their customers, treat their employees fairly, take a stance on major issues in society, and offset damage to the environment. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been one way of achieving those goals. And in 2022, organizations are taking a revitalized approach at CSR strategies and efforts, particularly post-pandemic. This includes environmental impacts, internal employee inclusion communities, and societal efforts. This article will act as a refresher on CSR strategy tips – revised for a post-pandemic world.
What is CSR strategy?
CSR strategy is the action plan designed to design, execute, monitor and assess their CSR initiatives. There may be specific areas of focus in addition to long-term goals. Because CSR is such a public-facing responsibility, in order to be successful, detailed and focused plans are required in order to make demonstrable impact without harming the brand.
How the pandemic may have impacted priorities or guided what CSR should look like
The authors and researchers observe that the very concept of “CSR has expanded from its perception as philanthropic actions to the systematic corporate activities and intensive interaction with stakeholders based on social, economic, and environmental interests aimed at long-term sustainable economic development and public welfare. With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 around the world, the companies have faced the challenge of moving to a new environment. Our findings suggest that CSR activities are implemented by the companies around the world as a response to the COVID-19, regardless of the country’s level of development. The companies with many years of CSR experience act responsibly towards their communities and society. The concept of CSR is still evolving, but the main goal remains the same at any stage of development—to contribute to public safety and well-being. The results show that the companies, analyzed in the paper, contribute to the implementation of CSR goals through socially responsible activities even in the crisis period.”
How organizations can benefit from a strong CSR strategy
A strong CSR strategy can serve as a vehicle for people working in organizations to make an impact in areas that are personally meaningful to them: whether it’s gender equity, environmental sustainability, fair wages, or beyond. Working in these areas through the organization will not only drive impact but commitment and personal satisfaction. Beyond that, it can also:
Improve public perception by receiving positive press, feedback, or praise from the community in which they’re focused on.
Improve brand recognition by working in areas of demonstrable impact, making it easier for customers to discover them through their CSR work.
Increase engagement in customers and employees by allowing them to support or otherwise engage with an employer that shares their values.
HR Tips for building a corporate social responsibility strategy
Understand your values and how they can align with community needs: It’s likely that your organization already has a set of values or guiding principles. These established values should drive the development of a CSR strategy in a logical way, and you should create alignment between focus areas of importance, organizational values, and the needs of the community.
Ask employees and customers: There is no shortage of issues to work on. Identifying an area of focus can be difficult, but asking employees and customers to weigh in can help ensure that you focus on areas where key stakeholders are invested. This can come in the form of simple surveys that ask questions like “What environmental or social issues matter most to you?” and “Which volunteer experiences or opportunities would you prefer?”
Seek inspiration from others: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, and particularly when the focus is on doing good in the world, referencing another organization’s successful strategy can help you ensure that the resources and initiatives do the job intended, rather than being wasted while the organization tries to work out the kinks.
Localize your efforts: Solving world hunger is an admirable goal, but making a demonstrable impact in a consistent and strategic manner is easier said than done. Starting with efforts closer to your community – whether it’s based on your office HQ or the area where most employees reside – can be a great way to get a CSR initiative off the ground and make change at home.
Drive participation at all levels of the organization: CSR execution belongs to everyone. From the highest levels of the organization, executive and management should lead by example and ensure that they are practicing organizational values and demonstrating commitment to the initiatives. When done consistently and continuously, everyone will follow.