Both a modern day business buzz word and a call to action, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about a company taking the initiative to evaluate their ethical and legal position, and to self-regulate their behavior. A true commitment to CSR requires designing a business model that has ethical, legal and socially responsible behaviors built right in, and some of that means working towards sustainability and a better future for our planet.
Many companies want to be proactive, developing and implementing a corporate social responsibility plan, but they simply do not know where to start. A comprehensive research paper by a consultant employed by the Canadian government to help improve sustainability initiatives throughout Canadian industry offers us some suggestions, adapted below.
If your company is wondering how you can do more to ensure that corporate social responsibility is part of your business plan – and day to day activities – consider the following ten steps necessary to ensuring corporate social responsibility (Strandberg, 2009):
Step #1: Vision, Mission, Values and Strategy CSR and sustainability must begin with a vision, mission, values and strategy. This means making a conscious decision about what a company’s vision is, both the vision for themselves and their role in society. This vision must include a mission statement and values, and there must be a sound strategy of how to stay on track with these goals. Employees and a variety of stakeholders should be involved in conceptualizing and writing these statements.
Step #2: Codes of Conduct Every company should have a written code of conduct that applies to all employees, in their daily work life. This code of conduct needs to include some expectation of corporate social responsibility. It is important that a code of conduct be in written form and given to all employees. The code of conduct needs to be written in every day, understandable language.
Step #3: Workforce Planning and Recruitment CSR also needs to be part of planning for workforce growth (or reduction), including interviewing and hiring. Social responsibility questions should be a part of the interview process, and all hiring decisions should be made with responsibility in mind. For example, hiring without a plan and then finding, just months later, that the company is unable to support the financial addition of the new workers and needs to conduct layoffs is not practicing good CSR.
Step #4: Orientation, Training and Competency Development Orientation for new employees and ongoing training of existing employees must be part of every successful organization, and these things should include CSR training explicitly.
Step #5: Compensation and Performance Management CSR should become a built in part of job descriptions, employee annual goals and employee reviews. Some type of reward system, whether part of an annual performance increase or other, should be tied to employee’s CSR efforts. Exit interviews are also an important time to access how the company is encouraging CSR.
Step #6: Change Management and Corporate Culture Corporate culture must be continually re-evaluated to ensure that it aligns with stated CSR visions. Additionally, change management needs to be executed in a way consistent with the organization’s CSR plan.
Step #7: Employee Involvement and Participation Employees should be constantly involved in both setting CSR standards and in implementing them. Education of employees and their families can be an excellent part of CSR. Additionally, positive work competitions can be quite useful in getting everyone involved.
Step #8: CSR Policy and Program Development While employees should be involved in setting ways that the organization can practice corporate social responsibility and various sustainable efforts, these need to come from the top down as well. This means developing specific programs and encouraging employee participation.
Step #9: Employee Communications Employees should be constantly kept informed of current CSR initiatives, but also on the impact of existing or complete initiatives.
Step #10: Measurement, Reporting and Celebrating Success Measuring the success of CSR efforts, promoting transparency by reporting those successes (and even non-success) and celebrating the milestones are all good ways to keep the employees and the community informed and engaged.
Reference: Strandberg, C. (May 2009). The role of human resource management in corporate social responsibility. Available at, http://corostrandberg.com/wp-content/uploads/files/CSR_and_HR_Management1.pdf