Corporate Social Responsibility should be a key foundation of the corporate culture of your organization. It definitely is to the community at large, even if we are not all accustomed to referring to it by its formal name. The values that bind the principles together are at the heart of the sustainable revolution that is sweeping across all industries and geographies. If you are not familiar with Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, allow us explain why it should matter to you.
Corporate Social Responsibility is often defined as “the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner.” These activities can be on a small or large scale, and can have a broad range of effects. Typically, involvement falls into three main categories: philanthropy, ethical labour practices, and sustainable environmental practices. We strongly believe that the best companies and organizations must actively participate in all three.
A small-scale effort could be as simple as making more eco-friendly decisions within an office space (recycling, composting, etc.). It can also involve ensuring that employees are properly taken care of by offering them meaningful health benefits and fair compensation for their work.
A large-scale effort may include donating a portion of business revenue to a local charity, supporting educational institutions, or getting involved in the community in a host of other ways. A global effort can include making the most environmentally sustainable business choices or adopting fair trade policies, despite the potential increase in cost.
The Alacrity Foundation advocates for strong Corporate Social Responsibility practices, and we support sustained entrepreneurial growth that involves our teams in ways that positively impacts the local and global community. We believe that entrepreneurs, investors, and partners should all be committed to adopting and implementing, socially responsible policies in their local communities, and beyond. Over the next few weeks, we will describe these types of efforts in more detail. We hope you will find out stories interesting.
Why Corporate Social Responsibility Matters
Rooted in the ideal that corporations must operate as “good citizens” that function responsibly, CSR practices take into account the social, economic, and environmental impacts that a business’ operations have.
“The concept of CSR is underpinned by the idea that corporations can no longer act as isolated economic entities operating in detachment from broader society. Traditional views about competitiveness, survival and profitability are being swept away.” –International Institute for Sustainable Development
CSR encourages sustainable development, community involvement, and being held to higher standards as a business. The standards a business operates to are a direct reflection on the morals and ethics of the leadership team, demonstrated by the social license that a company affords. As climate change, the millennial generation, and the challenging global socio-economic situations continue to influence our reality, companies that have strong CSR values will inevitably become the frontrunners of tomorrow’s society.
Participating in the community in a meaningful way consists of making a broader contribution than just employing people locally. Companies that embrace their responsibility also recognize that the traditional views of consumerism and the marketplace are changing. As the shift to a more sustainable economy occurs, community engagement and responsible development are becoming important economic pillars.
“A shift has occurred in the way people conceptualize Corporate Social Responsibility. For decades, corporate business models have been assumed to be necessarily harmful to certain communities and resources. The intention was therefore to mitigate or reverse the damage inherent in doing business. Now many entrepreneurs consider profit and social-environmental benefit to be inextricable.” –Investopedia
Corporate Responsibility and Values
Any corporate leader will acknowledge that Corporate Social Responsibility has become an integral component of their business values, and not just as a way to offset the damage caused by doing business. This set of values has earned a prominent role in corporate culture as a means to give back to communities, and to promote a sustainable and evergreen method of conducting business.
By choosing to invest in local schools, by selecting the most environmentally friendly manufacturing process, and by entering into community partnerships, corporations are actively creating the foundation for a better world. Strong educational systems produce smart, responsible entrepreneurs and employees. Responsible entrepreneurs create sustainable companies that boost the economy and develop other local opportunities as part of a broader tapestry. These companies can spread their values at an international level, stimulating a socially responsible, global entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Adopting CSR policies will have numerous benefits to a business. A company that truly supports CSR policies will improve the reputation of their brand, demonstrating to staff and consumers meaningful ways in which the company shares their values when it comes to sustainable development. We do not believe any organization should adopt socially responsible policies because they determine that these be recognized and will be good for their brand. Leaders should embrace socially responsible policies because they are the right thing to do. A true leader will neither market nor trumpet their contributions through words, rather they will do so in deeds. Staff will clearly differentiate between actions and words, and actions matter far more than words.
The people that make up the company appreciate the socially responsible engagements that the company and its leaders make. While it is common for us as individuals, (and as business units), to get caught up in our own individual daily lives, and also commonplace to forget much of our impact, what we do really does matters.
Being true to the policy statements we make increases the company’s social license, and provides a good business a positive social conscience to guide further growth. To the broader community, businesses that have developed strong CSR policies are perceived to operate in a way that have a positive impact socially, economically, and environmentally.
People and Responsibility
People are at the heart of any socially responsible policies and initiatives. People intuitively want to buy products and services that they can feel good about using. But prior to that, they want to create and produce products that are made fairly and consciously through a process that has the smallest environmental impact possible. People want to work for and support the companies that make those products, and they want to make them amazing!
The shift in the global conscience means that people are increasingly looking at corporate values and standards for indications as to which companies are positively contributing to change. Some of the world’s biggest corporations have already embraced CSR as part of their daily operations.
Apart from just being the right thing to do, as well as boosting reputations and social licenses, implementing CSR best-practices have additional benefits. Team building and corporate culture is positively influenced by these policies, the community is significantly impacted by the support received from local companies, and the global business ecosystem is strengthened by developing in ever increasingly sustainable ways.
Companies with strong CSR policies pride themselves on being good corporate citizens that contribute to a better future. Justifiably so: They are advocates of more sustainable practices, supporters of personal growth and innovative solutions, and the catalyst for a global transformation that is slowly underway. Beyond that, they provide ideal partnership, employment, and investment opportunities for others wishing to work towards the same goal.
Corporate Social Responsibility as a Philosophy
Adopting effective CSR policies ultimately determine whether or not a corporation is a pillar of progress, evolution, and hope. Companies that strive for greatness in every aspect are the ones that are truly great.
Being socially responsible offers companies the opportunity to identify themselves as belonging among the global leaders setting examples for others, and helping pave the way for others to continue innovating to improve.
Adopting socially responsible policies is not a matter of convenience. Rather, it must be an integral part of the guiding philosophical belief adopted by every member of an organization.
A company’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is a great way to identify the values and vision of the leadership and team. We actively consider corporate culture as part of our decision to engage with any team. When we seek to build relationships or provide support to our partner organizations, we consider their CSR practices as a way to understand our mutual goals and values.
We hope more corporations will adopt and adhere to meaningful CSR policies and practices. We believe the ones that do will thrive as corporate leaders, and as global citizens.