Last updated December 23, 2020
CSR takes many different shapes and forms, but is ultimately about contributing positively to society. Corporate social responsibility initiatives operate on scales of all sizes and range from community projects, to developing socially and environmentally sustainable corporate policies to advocating for social justice causes.
The most important thing is that your initiative makes a positive difference, integrates purpose into the workplace and is relevant to your company’s mission.
Want concrete examples? There are tons of responsible businesses out there today implementing innovative initiatives and making positive impacts. Keep reading for a few inspiring examples of corporate social responsibility in action.
TenTree is a Canadian sustainable clothing company founded in 2012 with CSR embedded directly into their business model.
They do this by planting 10 trees for every item they sell. When customers make a purchase, they also receive a code that can be entered into the TenTree website that enables them to track where their trees are being planted around the world, ranging from Nepal to Canada to Madagascar. Wherever they plant, TenTree also undertakes community projects related to good causes like education, drinking water, job creation, sustainable development and more
Patagonia is an American outdoor clothing brand that’s been around since 1973. They’re largely considered trailblazers of corporate social responsibility and consider themselves “an activist company.”
Patagonia focuses on climate change issues and reducing their environmental impact by working with renewable energy, encouraging clothing longevity and repairs and reducing their carbon footprint. They also impose a “Earth Tax” on themselves by donating 1% of their sales to environmental nonprofits.
BNP Paribas is a leading European bank from Switzerland that has been active since 1872. Although they’ve had various CSR initiatives going on for the past few years, they’ve recently begun developing them more robustly with the help of Alaya.
One of the central pillars of BNP Paribas’ corporate social responsibility strategy is employee engagement and solidarity. In order to develop this pillar, they give employees up to 16 hours (or 2 working days) to use for volunteer initiatives.
They have now reached 40% employee participation and have solidified their position as a socially responsible player in the financial industry, all while integrating employee purpose and aspirations into their company’s fabric.
The Walt Disney Company is another company that needs no introduction. Most importantly, it’s a mass media and entertainment conglomerate that’s repeatedly received awards and accolades for their social initiatives.
Their list of CSR programs is extensive, but their signature initiatives relate to social impact and the well-being of children. They do so by donating to nonprofits focusing on children and families as well as their well-known hospital visits and wish granting programs. In 2019, Disney donated $338.2 million dollars to these causes and currently works with 750 hospitals worldwide.
NuSkin is an American personal care products and dietary supplements company that was founded in 2002. They give back through a variety of initiatives, and one of them is called Nourish the Children. This program provides malnourished children with healthy, nutrient-rich meals.
Basically, NuSkin customers and employees can purchase meals to be distributed to famine-stricken children by nonprofits specializing in relief distribution. Over 650 million meals have been donated since 2002.
Ways to implement corporate social responsibility
There are countless ways to implement CSR initiatives into your business.
Many of these examples are quite advanced in their CSR journey, but CSR can start with just one action. In fact, companies often start with 1 or 2 initiatives that develop over time. Whether big or small, taking action is what counts and ultimately, creates the positive impact in the world.
First, ensure that you’ve defined your CSR strategy, as discussed above. Remember to establish a system that engages and involves your employees as well. Then, you’ll have to decide if you want to do so with a tool or without a tool.
Without A Tool: If you choose to implement your CSR initiative without a specific tool, you’ll need to establish a CSR structure that gets your whole company, as well as your customers and stakeholders, involved.
Once you’ve defined the cause that your company wants to address via a CSR program, you’ll need to establish your goals as well as what your success indicators will be. Once your program is ready to implement, you’ll need to focus on communication. This communication can be done through social media, your website, connecting with third parties and sponsors, organizing promotional events, online & traditional advertising and creating engaging content.
With A Tool: Nowadays, tools exist to help you implement CSR into your business. Alaya provides a software that’s specifically designed to engage employees in corporate social responsibility initiatives. It’s a single digital platform that manages all your giving and volunteering programs and is the perfect way for your business to get started with CSR.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is failing to engage their employees with CSR initiatives. In fact, the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement study showed that 89% of millennials interviewed said they wanted to be active participants in helping their company improve their responsible business practices.
Who organises CSR strategies and initiatives?
This varies greatly depending on the company’s size, specific needs and overall business model. Larger, more established companies will often have a department in charge of corporate social responsibility or contract a consultant for that specific purpose. However, it can also fall under the umbrella of public relations, marketing, head office or human resources.
I want to implement CSR initiatives into my workplace but don’t know where to start.
Your CSR activities should contribute to positive change and have a positive impact, but nowadays they need to go even further. In order for CSR programs to be sustainable and give your business a competitive advantage, they should also align with your company’s purpose, incorporate stakeholder feedback, prioritise customer and community engagement, involve associated nonprofit organisations and provide education.
This might seem like a lot of factors to consider right off the bat, but don’t worry. These are long-term considerations that you can integrate with time. To start things off, brainstorm good causes that relate to your company’s purpose with your team. Ask yourself questions like: “How can we make a positive social impact as a company?” and “How can we strengthen the broader purpose employees feel when working at our company?”
How do I know what CSR initiatives are right for my workplace?
To start off, brainstorm and research good causes that align with your company’s mission. Try doing this within your head office, at a board meeting or with all your company’s employees. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, the main goal of CSR should be: “to align a company’s social and environmental activities with its business purposes and values.”
Need help getting started? CSR initiatives often relate topics covered within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as: