Mercedes is an International HR Consultant working with Small and Medium Companies helping them to build their HR departments and processes. She is also the editor of this blog
If you are a little bit older than 30, you must remember the term Corporate Social Responsibility! If you are younger than that, it may ring the bell, but you might have heard about it divided in many other concepts.
I studied economics at the beginning of the century (XXI, in case you were thinking XX 😉 ) and back then, Corporate Social Responsibility was everything we talked about. Not diversity, not remote work, not work life balance, not Global warming, well, this one we did talk a little bit about it, but not much.
Recently I have read the term again, and it caused an smile on my face. I even organised seminars at my campus around the topic and invited companies to talk about it. Remembering those seminars, I realised that what companies talked about, was exactly all those terms that we mentioned above.
What corporate social responsibility is?
Investopedia defines the term as “a self regulating business model that helps a company to be socially accountable – to it self, its stakeholders, and the public”. Wikipedia adds to this, “that aims to contribute to societal goals of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature by engaging in or supporting volunteering or ethically-oriented practices”
I first read about it in a book called “Social Responsibility” from Reinhard Mohn, a german business owner in publishing who spoke about the very basics of all the concepts we mentioned above. However, when I took the book again to review it and share some bits with you, it has really aged, and the concepts written are not that impressive anymore for this date and time.
Where is CSR right now?
There are really good news in this area. It is alive and kicking. Even though is not a trending topic anymore and you wouldn’t tweet about it, the good news is that people take it for granted already. Big companies they all, or most of them, have a CSR report to show that they are doing something for the society they live in and they are giving back part of what they get.
Some of them even have a CSR Manager as part of their structure. If you look for CSR Manager “people” at LinkedIn the current results are 3,250,000 people around the world. Some of them have also “corporate communications” as part of their tittle, which tells us that maybe the role is not that focus in doing, but communicating. However, looking to the bright side of things, just the number is a positive fact. Being completely fair, most of them (out of the first 10 pages of search I had a look to) also have sustainability and environment amongst their functions.
What are companies currently doing under CSR?
Based on the reports from big corporations, at the moment they are mostly focussing in sustainability and reducing their CO2 Emissions. However, there are also other parts of it. Some of the most usual aspects of any CSR report right now are:
When it comes to learning and teaching, companies don’t usually include their internal training programs here like online learning courses. Unless you are doing a real effort to include professionals without experience, and with different backgrounds to your company. CSR is about making a positive impact into the world, so if you are training people that otherwise would have never had a chance to get a role in your company, please share it!
Diversity is, as I mentioned above, one of the aspects that we mostly talk about nowadays are included within CSR. If your team is really diverse, not just bringing some interns from a different country, but you actually have a team with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, don’t be afraid to show it so the rest of the world knows that your company actually cares about it.
Corportations usually include how they are changing the way they produce, the way their buildings consume, or how their employees are doing something for the environment like planting trees once a year. However, this could be much more, like including if your corporation is donating to a environmental focus
It is always important to promote solutions to increase a secure workplace and mental health of your employees. If you don’t know where to start, as an example, companies like CISCO are taking actions like fighting against the stigma of mental health. As per their CSR report of 2019, they encouraged people to ask for help. It looks like over 100 employees replied asking for help.
Donate to charities:
If you don’t have the capacity to do something extra for society as an small company, the best thing is to help your employees in some way. Start with the closer ones is a good idea. However, if you want to continue with it, chosing a charity that is aligned with your values always helps.
How could CSR be good to your company?
It is no longer an option to be seen as a company that doesn’t care, even if you really don’t care at all… There is no option for you to ignore these aspects of the management of your company anymore.
If you need some guidance on where to start, the UN has set up 17 sustainable goals that could help you to focus on those things that you could be improving
CSR could benefit your company by:
– Improving your brand awareness through different industries and sectors
– Improve your employer branding, therefore, increasing the attraction of candidates to your roles
– Increase your employee retention. Most employees leave because of their bosses, but they stay when they feel they are doing something else for the community. It is not the same to work for the same rate in a supermarket that abuses providers, than to work for a supermarket that pays fair prices and organise charitable events for the city where they are based.
Is there anyone regulating Corporate Social Responsibility?
Well, as it is a volunteer action, there are not official regulation bodies. However, there are certain entities that try to bring together certain common norms and regulations for everyone to distinguish who is really acting for is a global platform that unifies concepts and bring companies together by promoting achieving certain minimum standards if they want to be consider under their scope.
United Nations Global Compact
They have been acting for 20 years now around the world. Their mission is not just to evaluate and bring companies under the same scope all over the world, but also to promote their minimums .They focuss in 3 different areas: Environment, Social & Governance.
ISO 14000 (Ecology)
What is your company doing? Are you doing some of this activities even if you don’t call it CSR?
Share it in the comments with us!
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