- Corporate solutions
Last updated October 25, 2021
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be a priority for businesses big and small. That’s not us on our high horse—70% of Americans believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for many companies to make the world a better place. It’s a key consideration for business objectives, plus it’s great for the community and its people.
CSR is increasingly important in business and creating an informative report that conveys your company’s commitment to engaging with the wider community—and world—is essential for the organizational image. So, here’s what you need to know.
According to KPMG, around 80% of companies publish an annual CSR report. That’s a lot of companies, especially considering that this figure was at 12% in 1993. More and more companies are choosing to share their sustainable development goals and efforts—here’s how you can too.
A CSR report is a periodical report created by organizations with the goal of sharing their corporate responsibility efforts and results.
It aims to communicate an organization’s commitment to being socially responsible and promotes transparency amongst stakeholders when it comes to setting and hitting CSR goals.
CSR reports aren’t mandatory but they can prove incredibly beneficial to the organization and its business goals. It’s a great way to keep stakeholders in the loop and remain on top of internal organizational CSR efforts.
The periodical report is great for measuring the impact and progress resulting from CSR initiatives. This then informs both short and long-term decisions and allows organizations to readjust if necessary.
It’s also an important report for stakeholders. Research found that 77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from organizations committed to making the world a better place.
This sentiment is replicated in investors, with 73% stating that efforts to improve the world around them contribute to their investment decisions.
Find out more: The Benefits of CSR: The Ultimate Guide for Organizations
A CSR report doesn’t have to be a long, uninspiring document full of tables and graphs. It can be—if you choose it to—but adding a little life into yours could be the difference between people reading it or not. It’s the perfect place to showcase your employees’ efforts and share your company’s CSR story.
Here’s what every CSR report needs to contain:
There’s no one way to write a CSR report. Communication styles vary greatly across organizations and industries—just because sustainability reports sound formal it doesn’t mean they have to be. At the same time, a formal report doesn’t mean you can’t still pull in storytelling elements. Make it your own.
Target’s 2021 CSR report is a comprehensive review of the company’s past and future CSR initiatives. It includes all the sections we mentioned above, with some great additions to engage readers.
In terms of content, the report highlights key achievements throughout the year and divides the report into three separate sections. It then dives deeper into each of these sections—people, planet, and business—to provide readers with an understanding of each section, its priorities, and goals.
This report can be viewed online or downloaded, and it includes all the recommendations we previously listed. The report is full of interesting infographics and encouraging statistics.
They’ve also made the report super easy to navigate by hyperlinking to sources and useful information. Similar to Target, they divided their report into sections—food, planet, people, and community. It includes an overview of the four areas that highlight the progress made in each one.
Bloomberg’s 2021 Impact Report includes all of the info you’d expect it to. It’s a little lighter than the other on graphic aids, but overall it’s a clean and informative report. The four main Corporate Social Responsibility goals that Bloomberg outlines are:
Each of these four sections includes an overview of the progress made, such as sending 11,640 employees to volunteer and generating 50% of electricity from renewable sources.
Campbell’s 2021 CSR report shows how they’re evolving their CSR strategy to a more holistic approach with a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) opportunities. They detail their main goals in the opening note from the CEO and build on them using statistics and tables throughout.
The main goals that Cambell’s CSR report highlights are:
It’s packed with action shots from various stages of the supply chain and overall remains very on-brand from Cambell’s.
Amazon’s 2020 sustainability report only includes their progress. There’s no note from the CEO, no impact assessment or materiality report—just progress. The entire document focuses on Amazon’s commitments and goals and communicates how they’re meeting them year on year.
Amazon chooses to separate its CSR goals into three different areas:
The report is light on images when compared to others, but the message is conveyed clearly and quickly.
While we can’t tell you exactly what to write, we can definitely point you in the right direction. A good place to start is at the root of the problem.
It’s important to consider what your readers want from the CSR report, as it’s them you’re making it for. It doesn’t hurt to do a little competitor analysis to see what similar businesses are doing, but asking some of your core readers—like your customers, employees, partners, and leads—is the best way to understand what they’re interested in reading about.
The information they provide will be key when creating your report and will ensure that your report addresses all key issues.
Now you know what your stakeholders want from you, it’s time to formulate a plan to deliver your report. This is where you spell out what action you’ll be taking, and how this supports your specific CSR goals.
Be purposeful when setting your goals and identify performance indicators beforehand. It’s important you’re able to accurately measure and successfully communicate your progress.
For environmental goals, this may be reducing carbon emissions by X%. When considering employment goals, this could be an X% of minority groups in leadership. Whatever your goals and metrics are, be specific and transparent.
CSR isn’t just words on a page. It’s an opportunity for organizations to show they’re invested in more than just making money. It’s a way to connect with stakeholders that share your values.
Let people see the on-the-ground impact your efforts and people are having; share images and testimonies from communities you’ve supported. Highlight and celebrate what your employees have been achieving. It’s a human approach to human issues, and that’s what’s needed.
You’ve worked hard on this report, you want to make sure people see it. Even if they don’t read it from start to finish, it’s important that people recognize your brand as adopting CSR initiatives.
Here are some ideas for marketing your report:
Receiving feedback on any initiative is an important part of the process. Invite your stakeholders to divulge their opinions on your progress, and where they believe you should be doing better.
It’s great for engagement as well as your CSR goals.
When it comes to CSR reporting, there are some best practices to follow to ensure a thorough and impactful report.
It’s okay to make mistakes—you know this and so do your stakeholders. What’s not okay is to lie about those mistakes. Be transparent with your progress and honest about your failings. Keep your focus on the future, and how you aim to do better than ever before.
Measuring your CSR goals year on year requires clear metrics for progress. It really depends on what your goals are, but knowing how to measure and track your efforts is essential for sharing them with stakeholders.
There are some common CSR reporting standards that supply a framework for your report. These can come in handy if you’re struggling to create your own metrics or framework:
To find out more, head over to our article on CSR reporting standards.
There are plenty of ways in which you can support your CSR initiatives. One of those ways is by investing in a CSR program—ideally, one that provides CSR opportunities and includes reporting capabilities.
Alaya helps organizations and employees find nearby volunteering and giving opportunities, as well as provides key reporting capabilities for the CSR team. To experience how Alaya can help you achieve your CSR goals, try a demo for yourself.
Want help creating your CSR strategy? Read our guide for some top tips to get you started.
CSR reports aren’t mandatory, but they do support an organization’s overarching business goals. It’s highly recommended you create one to truly showcase your CSR efforts, and keep track of your CSR goals.
CSR reports are important because they inform stakeholders of how a company is engaging with the wider community. They’ll also keep your internal team on their toes and accountable to ensuring the CSR project’s success.
CSR reports should be available on an organization’s website. If not, a quick google should bring up the most recent CSR report you’re looking for. There’s no central database for CSR reports, however, we do have a few articles sharing our favorites.