The 4 types of corporate social responsibility your business should consider (& why)

Stéphanie Grawehr April 28, 2022


Why is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) important? Types of Corporate social responsibility Other Types of Corporate Social Responsibility What are the benefits of CSR initiatives? Make your next corporate social responsibility initiative your best yet FAQ

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business initiative ensuring that a given company meets specific goals related to ethics, sustainability, and social impact. When executed well, it can enhance how your business is viewed and approached, helping to share your company’s broader mission with the world.

There are four types of corporate social responsibility which we’ll be discussing in this article:

  1. Environmental responsibility
  2. Human Rights/Ethical responsibility
  3. Philanthropic responsibility
  4. Economic responsibility

Follow along to learn how to address each type of responsibility to engage employees, improve branding, and make a positive social impact.

Why is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) important?

The idea that businesses have a responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society is one that has expanded greatly in the last decade and is now a priority for companies of all sizes and industries.

Gone are the days when businesses focused solely on profit. Current generations look for transparency from companies, demanding to see concrete plans for how they intend to uphold their responsibility to society.

For this reason, having a CSR program is crucial for customer and employee satisfaction, as well as improving bottom-line financials and employer branding. It also puts your company into contact with your local communities, creating meaningful opportunities for team building and instilling a sense of purpose in your workforce.

For this reason, a company’s commitment to CSR isn’t just about ensuring corporate governance. It’s also about standing for something – and taking action to make a real difference.

By implementing a CSR strategy, your company will inspire teams to contribute to the causes they care about in the name of your business. All of this can help enhance company image, business growth, and corporate purpose.

To understand how to address corporate social responsibility initiatives, let’s take a look at the four main types of CSR:

Types of Corporate social responsibility

CSR is generally categorized in four ways: environmental responsibility, ethical responsibility, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility. Here, we’re going to examine each one so that you can properly address them with your CSR strategy.

1. Environmental corporate responsibility

Environmental responsibility refers to the an organization’s commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly operations. Every year, more companies are prioritizing sustainable practices, pledging to consider their environmental impact at every stage of business.

This can mean taking into account the company’s carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions, opting for sustainable resources by avoiding single use plastics, and keeping environmental aspects at the heart of all operations.

However, this environmental responsibility can extend past the company’s promise to sustainable development. If protecting the environment is a part of your corporate mission, then you can also honor that by encouraging employees to take action in the name of this mission.

Nestlé Cares Cleanup

To uphold their company value of protecting the planet with environmentally friendly practices, Nestlé Switzerland organized a volunteer week event centered around corporate environmental responsibility.

Their Cleanup Week took place mid-September 2021, in line with World Cleanup Day, giving their employees hands-on experience in helping to protect their local environment and supporting communities.

This week saw more than 100 participants across Switzerland over 4 days, with 6 Nestlé sites involved. Thanks to this effort, Nestlé managed to collect 110+ kg of trash (among other environmental benefits.)

2.  Ethical/Human Rights social responsibility

Ethical responsibility refers to a company’s commitment to operate their business in an ethical manner that upholds human rights principles, such as fair treatment of all stakeholders, fair trade practices and equal pay.

To champion ethical responsibility, many businesses will speak up in the name of common forms of human rights injustices; such as child labor, racial or gender discrimination, and the fight for a higher minimum wage.

Much like our responsibility to the environment, there are also ways to endorse ethics at your company by involving employees in the process.

Glovo Cares Volunteer Week

As the equality of access to essential goods for everyone is one of the main pillars of Glovo’s commitment to serve the community, they set out to build a volunteer program that would engage employees in providing resources to those in need within the communities where they are located.

By organizing a global volunteer week initiative at local food banks in their regions, they were able to support an ethical cause that aligns with their core business in 7 countries and 9 cities. Learn how they managed to inspire over 700 volunteered hours globally by checking out the full case study here.

3. Philanthropic corporate responsibility

Philanthropic responsibility refers to a corporation’s aims, goals, and objectives for actively bettering society as a whole. One huge aspect of corporate philanthropy is donating money from company earnings to worthy causes within the local community, often in the form of a trust or foundation.

These kinds of philanthropic efforts speak volumes to your public image as a business leader, which is crucial in today’s world. There are a number of ways in which businesses can incorporate CSR in the form of philanthropy while engaging employees, including giving schemes with the potential for donation matching.

NatWest Giving Tuesday campaign

This past Giving Tuesday, NatWest Group employees were invited to give their voice, time, and money to good causes. Alongside volunteer initiatives, they were invited to donate money to one of 11 partner charities.

Through this initiative, the bank raised £425,000 in donations during Giving Tuesday- with an added £150,000 in donation matching.

4. Economic corporate responsibility

Economic responsibility refers to the practice of making financial decisions based on a commitment to doing good.

Some common examples of economic responsibility include investing in alternative energy sources, putting more money into education programs, and funding local charities as a way of bolstering their mission.

To uphold economic responsibility, business leaders are challenged to think past operational cost savings and instead put their obligation to corporate citizenship at the heart of all financial decisions.

Other Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Looking past the four main examples of CSR strategies, there are a number of other areas where corporations can put their focus on being socially responsible for their employees and society as a whole.

Diversity and inclusion

Promote diversity from the inside out by instating an inclusive hiring practice and by encouraging your teams to embrace different cultures, backgrounds and identities.

Another effective way to advance diversity at your company is to challenge your employees to educate themselves on how to be allies during Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride, and other cultural awareness days.


Show your work force that you care about their mental and physical health by making personal wellbeing a priority.

By inviting teams to participate in wellbeing challenges, such as goals related to step count, meditation, or healthy eating, you give them the permission they need to prioritize their bodies and minds before all else.

Employee engagement

Caring for the wellbeing of your workforce can mean more than just their personal health. It can also include keeping teams engaged with your company and the community through CSR initiatives.

Engaged employees have a 17% increase in productivity and have shown to be 21% more profitable. There are a number of ways to achieve this kind of engagement through a CSR program, such as planning a field volunteering event for bonding with team members or encouraging participation in personal challenges related to sustainability, diversity and wellbeing.

Working with a CSR platform is an effective way to track the impacts of your efforts and connect team members on all matters of doing good.

Supply chain responsibility

As companies, we can do more than just hold ourselves accountable. We can also be socially responsible by taking the time to verify that our vendors and suppliers similarly prioritize making a positive impact.

The effects of a socially responsible supply chain trickle down into the manufacturing process and overall operations to spread goodness even further out into the community.

What are the benefits of CSR initiatives?

Of course, companies are not becoming socially responsible just to meet current ethical requirements. There are a number of CSR benefits that come with such initiatives that make CSR programs worth our attention.

When a company implements a CSR strategy into their operations, it helps to:

  • Increase employee engagement
  • Improves bottom-line financials
  • Support local and global communities
  • Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Access investment opportunities
  • Refine public image and create positive press
  • Boost customer retention and loyalty
  • Enhance employer branding

If you’d like to benefit from these advantages, then take the first steps in implementing your own program today.

Make your next corporate social responsibility initiative your best yet

With the help of socially responsible business strategies, your company will remain relevant in the eyes of the public, giving you a leg up when it comes to attracting talent, retaining customers and operating on a global scale.

Remember that it’s useful to touch on all of the types of corporate social responsibility to create an appealing, engaging and successful program for everyone involved.

This can be a lot to think about – but there are ways to make it easier. Consider working with a CSR platform like Alaya by Benevity, which helps companies manage and execute CSR strategies all in one space.

Our CSR solution provides companies with the capacity to source volunteer activities, challenge employees to make positive personal changes, connect with teams on spreading goodness globally, and access CSR reporting. This gives every member of the team a sense of shared purpose as you work together to fulfill your company’s broader mission.


What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business initiative ensuring that a given company meets specific goals related to ethics, sustainability and social impact. Companies can use CSR strategies to more positively engage with your work force, the community, and society as a whole.

What are the four types of corporate social responsibility?

The four main types of corporate social responsibility are environmental responsibility, ethical responsibility, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility. However, companies can also consider different forms of CSR; such as diversity, inclusion, wellbeing, and employee engagement.

Why is CSR important?

Corporate social responsibility is important because it enables businesses to use their resources to take positive action in the name of the business. This is crucial in today’s world, where social responsibility is a number one priority for potential employees, customers and the community.

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