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Last updated October 25, 2021

Why Your Company Should Create a CSR Report + Examples

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.

Why you should have a CSR report

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.

What is a Corporate Social Responsibility report?

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.

Why should you publish a CSR report?

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

What is included in a CSR report?

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:

  • A brief note from the CEO introducing the report and highlighting its key findings. This summary sets the mood for the report and informs readers that upper management is invested in CSR objectives.
  • A presentation of the organization’s governance structure and business model to set the scene for the report. Understanding how the business can operate is important for understanding how it does throughout the fiscal year.
  • A presentation of the sustainability context in which the organization operates. This includes info on what’s happening at the market and industry levels and provides an overall view of sustainability options available.
  • An impact assessment then identifies the areas in which the organization is creating a negative social or environmental impact. During this step, it’s also key to identify indicators to measure progress.
  • A materiality report identifies and prioritizes the most pressing concerns as seen by stakeholders. This allows businesses to address them in order of perceived importance.
  • An overview of performance informs stakeholders of how issues have been addressed and how they will be addressed. This section uses the metrics and indicators laid out in the impact assessment.
  • A personal final touch is to include some action shots of your initiatives. This is a great place to repeat any impressive stats too.

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.

Examples of CSR reports for 2021

  1. Target 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report

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.

  1. General Mills 2021 Global Responsibility Report

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.

  1. Bloomberg 2021 Impact Report

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:

  • Reducing emissions
  • Supporting climate action & the environment
  • Investing in the workforce
  • Driving social change

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.

  1. Campbell’s 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report

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:

  • Building a winning team and culture
  • Empowering stronger, healthier communities
  • Building a sustainable and resilient supply chain

It’s packed with action shots from various stages of the supply chain and overall remains very on-brand from Cambell’s.

  1. Amazon’s 2020 Sustainability Report

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:

  • Environment
  • People
  • Governance

The report is light on images when compared to others, but the message is conveyed clearly and quickly.

How to write a CSR report

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.

Step 1: Identify key issues

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.

Step 2: Create concrete goals and performance indicators

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.

Step 3: Bring it to life

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.

Step 4: Spread the word

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:

  • Create a dedicated page to CSR goals on your website
  • Create a social media campaign to share the sustainability report
  • Encourage upper management to endorse the report

Step 5: Invite comments and contact

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.

CSR Reporting Best Practices

When it comes to CSR reporting, there are some best practices to follow to ensure a thorough and impactful report.

Be transparent

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.

Identify clear metrics

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.

Follow CSR reporting standards

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:

  • Business for Social Impact is the global standard for measuring CSR impact
  • Global Reporting Initiative is one of the most widely used frameworks out there
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is a sustainability reporting specialist

To find out more, head over to our article on CSR reporting standards.

Power your CSR program with Alaya

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 Report FAQs

Are CSR reports mandatory?

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. 

Why are CSR reports important?

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. 

Where can I find CSR reports?

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.