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What Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

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Last editedSep 20202 min read

Taking a serious approach to corporate social responsibility can help your business have a positive effect on society, while also boosting your brand image and making your company a more attractive prospect for potential employees. Explore everything you need to know about the benefits of corporate social responsibility and how to craft an effective corporate social responsibility strategy. First, explore our corporate social responsibility definition.

Corporate social responsibility definition

So, what is corporate social responsibility? Essentially, CSR is a managerial concept wherein companies commit to managing the environmental, social, and economic impact of their operations.

Because there’s no law requiring companies to act in the general good of society, CSR is a form of self-regulation. It’s one of the main ways of achieving the “triple bottom line” approach to business, while also addressing the expectations of your company’s shareholders and stakeholders. Generally, something that is required by law – i.e. protecting customer data – isn’t considered to be CSR.

Corporate social responsibility extends to every aspect of your business, from operations and human resources to your supply chain and manufacturing. As such, a broad range of activities fall under the bracket of corporate social responsibility. Here are some of the activities or individual business practices that your company may pursue as part of your corporate social responsibility strategy:  

  • Supporting charitable organizations in communities where your business operates

  • Donating a certain percentage of revenue to charitable causes

  • Committing to reduce greenhouse gases produced by the business

  • Offering extensive employee benefits, such as parental leave and healthcare

  • Promoting equal opportunities, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on

As you can see, corporate social responsibility extends to many different areas. It’s all about setting the standard for ethical corporate behavior and giving back to society.  

Understanding the importance of corporate social responsibility

There are many benefits of corporate social responsibility that you should be aware of. Firstly, a socially conscious brand image is becoming increasingly important as the use of CSR expands. Consumers think about CSR when deciding which businesses to support with their hard-earned cash, and by implementing a robust CSR program, you can demonstrate that your business is a good corporate citizen, boosting customer retention in the process.

Of course, consumers aren’t the only people who factor corporate social responsibility into their decision-making. Talented employees are increasingly looking at CSR when deciding where to work, which is why corporate social responsibility has become a relatively significant factor in recruitment. If you want to make your company an attractive place to work, it helps to have a thriving CSR program.

Beyond brand image, the importance of corporate social responsibility to your business’s operational efficiency cannot be understated. CSR can help to minimize your environmental impact, save energy, inspire innovation, and increase the efficiency of your internal processes. In other words, it makes your company better. CSR isn’t a box you need to tick off, but a must-have for start-ups and major companies alike.

How to build an effective corporate social responsibility strategy

Firstly, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a single “right” way to practice CSR. When crafting a corporate social responsibility strategy, try to find initiatives that make sense for your business and can have a real impact in the communities that you’re involved in. CSR that’s solely intended for marketing purposes is rarely effective, and consumers and employees alike react much more positively to long-term social responsibility commitments.

It’s also a great idea to make sure your employees are involved in the discussion from the word go. Be sure to create an internal corporate social responsibility team to spearhead your efforts and pay attention to initiatives that your team feels strongly about. Clarity is also key. Your corporate social responsibility strategy shouldn’t take place behind closed doors but be a transparent process that anyone can contribute to.

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