Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is quickly becoming an essential philosophy for companies that wish to not only do good in the world but also wish to remain a successful company. Buyers from all generations, but particularly Gen Z and millennials, are paying more attention to the ethics of companies that they buy from and increasingly choosing to spend more money from those whose beliefs align with their own.
Likewise, gone are the days when top industry talent would make a beeline to the highest bidder, and gone are the days when many would stay in their job for 20+ years. That means if you want to not only attract top talent but keep it, you need to appeal to them in other ways.
The majority of employees say that they would rather work for a company whose morals align with their own. This offers a major incentive for smaller companies to become more competitive within the market, and growth potential for larger companies as well.
CSR is no longer just a PR stunt, and we welcome a new age where companies proudly share their efforts to make the world a better, healthier, and kinder place.
What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility is the act of a business giving back to the world. It can be done in several different ways according to the values that a company holds, but the three main ways that CSR can be used are to help the following causes:
- Climate Change - giving back to the planet by committing to reduced waste, donating money to environmental causes, etc.
- Social Responsibility - supporting people and communities through initiatives to address poverty, homelessness, lack of opportunity, etc.
- Internal CSR (staff wellbeing) - Creating a positive workplace for staff by committing to fair pay, offering unlimited time off, providing education opportunities, etc.
CSR is not only a way for businesses to acknowledge their responsibility to the larger community, but also an excellent way to attract talent and customers who hold the same values.
Examples of CSR Initiatives
Here are a few examples of how a company might get started with a CSR initiative for each of the 3 types mentioned above:
Climate change has been somewhat of a ‘hot’ topic recently, and as the world changes it becomes more apparent that we all need to contribute to creating a more sustainable world. By using climate change as a CSR objective, you are telling the world that you believe in science and you are committed to not just the company's future, but your clients' children's futures.
Climate change is arguably the easiest type of CSR program to implement because it has been at the forefront of conversation for the past few years, and the conversation continues to swell.
To take on this CSR effort, it is a good idea to look at existing certifications for environmental CSR efforts. This will help you to get an idea of positive things that you can do and how best to incorporate them into the workplace. These may be initiatives such as cutting down on paper and printer usage, a cycle-to-work scheme, or a sponsored forest with employees and management volunteering to plant trees, for example.
Social responsibility initiatives present an opportunity to help the communities directly surrounding your business. Examples of this can be anything from a staff-run soup kitchen to donating to local schools, and so on.
If you run an international company then these efforts can extend further, and your social responsibility CSR initiative should acknowledge events across the world. While you may focus the majority of your efforts on issues close to home (maybe your wool-based products are helping an Alpaca farm in rural Peru?), you can also use your program to address current issues in the world.
Gay Pride is a recent example of a social movement that gripped the world, and businesses everywhere push to support the movement each year as gay pride celebrations roll around. They do this because they know it's the right thing to do, and aligning their business with important values helps the consumer to know who to align themselves with.
Internal CSR is focused on your employees and how they experience the workplace. By having a well-performing CSR program in your business by extension you are looking to improve worker retention, worker satisfaction, and the way that your business and staff work together.
Internal CSR initiatives could be things like free snacks in the workroom, office volunteer programs, and on-site nurseries and work-from-home initiatives. It can be anything that helps to improve the quality of the lives of your staff.
20 Best CSR Examples
Now that we’ve discussed some the different types of CSR initiatives, let’s take a look at some real-life examples from companies that have gone above and beyond to make their CSR strategies exemplary.
1. Ben and Jerry's
Ben and Jerry’s have long made news about their personable brand, and their very human approach to business. Since 1988, Ben and Jerry’s have put in the work to help improve the planet, focusing on things that are important to them as people and professionals, namely the treatment of cows and creating a more peaceful world- Ben founded 1% for Peace in 1988.
They have previously been spearheads in the campaign to get young people to register to vote- in fact in 2004 they teamed up with Rock the Vote, and thanks to a free ice cream campaign they secured 11,000 people to register to vote- to this day the largest in Rock the Vote’s history.
Today they continue to focus on ethically sourced ingredients, (check out their bakers here), philanthropy, grant programs, dollar for dollar employee donation programs, community-based projects wherever they have stores and plenty more to contend with.
Ben and Jerry may be Ice Cream moguls, but when looking at their CSR efforts it’s clear that they focus on specific themes that are important to the business (cow welfare), to the planet, and to the community that supports their product.
Google is an industry giant, so many people focus on them and the way that they conduct their business. Their approach to CSR means that they consider each ‘stakeholder’ and commit to aiding them. For example, their primary stakeholder is the user, since without users, there is no Google. As their philosophy states:
Focus on the User and the rest will follow.
Their commitment to the user shows how creating a service that people need and doing it better than anyone else is a very good way of making it to the top. Google employees are also known to have a comfortable working life with snacks, ping pong tables, and a comfortable atmosphere.
Of course, Google doesn’t just focus on ensuring their algorithms are the best in the business, nor do they solely focus on ensuring their employees are enjoying their days. They have also donated over $100 million to causes that they deem important, focusing predominantly on global public health, global poverty, and climate change.
You can see that because Google is an international company, it makes sense for them to focus on global initiatives. If they focused solely on poverty in California for example, they would be shunning the rest of the world and the rest of their client base. As CSR focuses heavily on responsibility where your business is based, it only makes sense for a company such as Google to share the love.
3. Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce focuses predominantly on climate change and how it can help to minimize its impact on the planet. They are a member of Net Zero by 2050, attended COP26, and have implemented a Zero Harm policy to protect their employees. In addition to this, they also focus on efforts to adopt circular business practices- which help to minimize waste and encourage recycling.
They also focus heavily on ethics- and it’s not just the managers. 95% of the almost 50,000 Rolls Royce staff worldwide have completed ethics training and speak up training. This helps employees to feel valued and allows people within the company to feel secure in doing the right thing.
Netflix is truly the industry leader when it comes to online streaming services, and while other platforms may be catching up in terms of content Netflix is blazing a new trail with its CSR efforts. Not only do they claim they will be net-zero emissions by the close of 2022, they have also used a scientific approach to reduce their internal emissions by a staggering 45% between 2019 and 2030.
In addition, they are investing heavily in projects around the world dedicated to both removing carbon from our atmosphere and restoring nature's ability to complete this task as well. Netflix is clear–when it comes to carbon, they’re happy to take responsibility for more than their fair share.
Like Google, Netflix's CSR efforts are a great example of how a global company can stand by things they believe in without focusing on one individual country or region. Climate change affects us all, and Netflix is tackling that head-on.
For almost the entire duration of the company, Rolex has made a name for itself as the explorer’s watch. It can handle deep-sea diving, jungle explorations, and of course, it made an even bigger name for itself as the watch that has made it into space more than once.
So with such a wide range of users and uses it’s only seems right that Rolex’s CSR efforts are concentrated on the planet itself. They choose to focus their efforts on scientific research into climate change and the restoration of ecosystems, paying particularly close attention to the oceanic ecosystem (after all, their Submarina watch is one of their most enduring best-sellers).
They also invest in collaborative projects aiming to restore the north and south poles and conserve wildlife.
Disney is a giant. It’s a giant that has created a worldwide community, and it goes without saying that Disney has brought families and communities together for almost as long as they have been making films.
As mentioned in the above CSR examples, companies tend to focus on what is important to them. As such, it should come as no surprise that a large portion of Disney's CSR efforts is based on social responsibility. This helps them to attract and retain top talent in the industry, as well as strengthen their market position.
According to their website:
We are committed to providing comfort, inspiration, and opportunity to children and families around the world through cash and in-kind contributions, volunteerism, our signature social impact program focusing on children’s hospitals and wish granting, and our investments in youth.
However, they also focus on a myriad of other projects, from wildlife conservation (how could there be a Lion King with no lions?), environmental sustainability, their supply chain, and their products. Disney has a very comprehensive and collective CSR investment.
Sony is an entertainment company, and so their CSR efforts are focused heavily on communities, education of children as well as arts and culture. They also put a considerable amount of effort not just into climate change, but also disaster relief.
In the case of disaster relief, when a natural disaster occurs, Sony will often send volunteers out to help- the same can be said with climate change relief efforts. Sony is the first company on this list that actively contributes to things such as natural disaster relief, and this commitment earned them the number one spot in Wall Street Journal's 2020 list of sustainable businesses.
While many of Sony's CSR efforts are concentrated in the US, they also have worldwide commitments to things like diversity and inclusion, education, accessibility, and the environment. Even though Sony is technically a Japan-based company, they know that their service is consumed by people worldwide, and they work with that.
At its core, Nintendo aims to put smiles on people's faces. Whether that is through their games or through the good that they put out in the world, the goal is the same. Their CSR efforts are three-pronged, focusing on the consumer, the supply chain, and the employee.
The Consumer- For Nintendo, the consumer can enjoy many perks. From the promise of quality and the constant improvement of the interface to building a greener future and investing in the new generation. They put in the work for the consumer on all levels.
The Supply Chain- Nintendo works with external partners to secure their products. This could be an easy way of distancing themselves from the CSR of their providers, but it’s not. They have strict rules and assessments put in place to ensure that all of their partners meet a certain standard, and each partner also contributes to CSR efforts.
The Employees- More than just a safe and healthy workspace, employees at Nintendo can expect to find a real work-life balance, as well as the opportunities to continue learning, grow within their roles, and enjoy a diverse workspace.
While Nintendo does work on environmental CSR, their primary focus is what is most important to them- which is the most important factor for any business owner.
Adidas has created something incredible with its CSR efforts. In 2020 they managed to cut down on water usage and waste by 48% per employee (compared to 2008), and from 2015-2020, they reduced their carbon emissions by 55%, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Adidas works toward 5 year set goals for their CSR efforts, and currently they are focused on reducing waste and carbon emissions in the production of their clothes. This follows naturally from their business as a fashion brand, an industry which typically has a bad reputation for polluting water and creating huge environmental problems in the name of fast fashion.
Fashion is behind when it comes to sustainability, but Adidas is helping to lead the charge into sustainable, dependable fashion.
Marriott hotels have an incredible reputation worldwide as luxury accommodations. The Luxury market has been making moves towards sustainability for some time now, and as an industry leader, it makes sense that Marriott would be a front runner.
At Marriott, the CSR efforts are focused around four main concepts: Nurture, Sustain, Empower, and Welcome. Each title focuses on a different aspect of their CSR.
With nurturing, they focus their efforts on ensuring that wherever they have a hotel becomes a better place for locals. They do this by volunteering- aiming to have 15 million hours counted by 2025- 50% of which will be dedicated to children's relief efforts.
Sustain focuses on the planet, minimizing water usage, reducing carbon emissions and waste. They also work to understand and consider potential climate risks and how they can help to mitigate them.
Empower seeks to improve unemployment rates wherever there may be a Marriott. They also seek to improve youth education and employment by funding programs that help young adults get a quality education that inspires the workplace.
Welcome seeks a safe world for all, with a greater understanding of other cultures and practices. It also focuses on Human Rights, with employees trained in things such as recognizing victims of trafficking, as well as special sourcing and recruitment policies.
The Marriot uses the UN’s goals as a template for the way in which they should concentrate their CSR goals.
L’oreal has taken a triple threat approach for setting its CSR example. They focus on the three P’s: the Planet, the Product, and the People. They aim to be exemplary in every way and to do so they focus on everything from the bigger picture down to the day-to-day experiences of their employees.
L’Oreal has committed to ending testing on animals, preserving the natural resources of the planet, respecting the biodiversity of the planet, managing water in a sustainable way, and tackling climate change–all by the year 2030. (Planet)
Equally, by 2030, L’Oreal’s CSR aims to increase the number of women in science fields, promote diversity and inclusion, empower communities, care for their staff, and respect human rights. (People)
When it comes to their products, L’Oreal has pledged to ensure that they are environmentally safe, bottles are designed to be eco-friendly, and labeling of products is equally environmentally and socially correct. (Product)
Michelin is another company that has used the UN’s sustainable development goals as a template for how they will continue. And they’re aiming high, demanding nothing but the best of themselves. They are also heavily invested in the idea of respect specifically:
- Respect for people
- Respect for customers
- Respect for shareholders
- Respect for the environment
- Respect for facts
Using this as a basis, Michelin has created a movement within itself, committed to the planet, people, and finding a balance within profit. As the saying goes, Michelin was created for and through people. So, they have set ambitious targets for themselves to meet customer and investor expectations, make and manage commitments to employees, as well as contributing to society and respecting human rights at every turn.
Like many other examples of CSR, Michelin focuses a lot of time on their climate change action. Preserving resources, protecting biodiversity, and acting with the planet in mind are all important aspects of their approach.
Canon, like many others, has committed to a climate change action plan alongside the social issues they are tackling. Canon’s green initiative has been in the works since 2008 and seeks to find the balance between the enrichment of the consumers' life with reducing the environmental burden that production of goods necessarily entails.
Canon has also made some very astute mergers with other businesses in an effort to set an example with their CSR efforts. This means that Canon and its superior technology has helped to create a myriad of different things- anything from medical equipment, disease prevention, and home security.
In short, anything that the shareholders at Canon believe will contribute to a safer, more affluent, comfortable, and secure life for those around us, they will consider investing in.
Bosch is a worldwide company that has committed to CSR on a serious level. They focus on social responsibility starting at home with ensuring the fair treatment of their employees.
They also branch out with specific representatives for human rights management, equal opportunities management, fair working conditions and complying worldwide with fair working conditions. The same applies for every supplier Bosch works with.
2020 saw Bosch donating 21.2 million euros worldwide dedicated to improving the common good, specifying in equal opportunity education. This is in addition to The Robert Bosch Stiftung, a foundation based in Germany and dedicated to working on health, education, and global issues.
Intel has begun its 2030 challenge, aiming to raise the bar on industry standards in responsibility, inclusivity, and sustainability. Each category works towards the greater good for anyone it may touch.
Their Responsibility pledge promises to ensure that no employees of Intel or their suppliers have been forced or bonded into work. It also aims to contribute to life-saving technologies specifically focused on traffic accidents and how to reduce them. This goes hand in hand with their commitment to revolutionizing health and safety, inspired by the pandemic.
Their Inclusivity pledge demands a more diverse workforce, for both the company of Intel and for each of its suppliers. 2020 saw $1.2 billion dollars spent on driving this home, and with a goal of 40% of technical workers being women in a vastly underrepresented career path, there is plenty to celebrate with Intel's efforts.
That’s not all, as they are working with 30 different country's governments to improve children's access to technologies such as AI in order to improve future job prospects. This project should give 30 million people access to new technologies around the globe.
Their Sustainability pledge commitments Intel to achieving a net positive in water usage, zero landfill waste, and carbon-neutral energy output by 2030.
Samsung's CSR efforts are heavily focused on education and providing opportunities for young people. Young people are the future, and Samsung has not forgotten that. The core values of the company surround not the development of technology, but the development of people, empowering future generations through technology.
Since 1995, Samsung has been committed to corporate citizenship projects, and they only increase with time. 2009 saw Samsung’s Solve Tomorrow project launched with One Week, Samsung Smart School, C-Lab, and Dream class not far behind.
In fact, since 2009 Samsung has consistently opened new schools and new projects to help young people break into technology. As mentioned previously in this article, setting an example with CSR is important, and to do so you must follow your company ethos.
As mentioned multiple times throughout the article, to set an example in CSR means that your efforts must be reflective of your business's ethos. Nike understood the assignment, with a primary focus on People, Planet, and Play.
"Play" sees huge investments being made in getting kids active and enjoying sport. They do this by providing equipment, training coaches, and drives dedicated to increasing girls and women in sport. You can’t argue- this is probably the perfect way for Nike to invest in CSR.
"Planet" is one we have seen multiple times on this list of CSR examples- and for good reason! Nike’s efforts are focused on reducing carbon emissions, reducing waste, more effective water management, and doing all of that using our good friend chemistry.
"People" is another one that is focused on regularly. Nike in particular looks to increase diversity and inclusion, build a community through sport, and responsibly source all of their materials while demanding the same from their supply chain.
HP is a company that has already put their money where their mouth is, and can proudly stand on their list of achievements as they work forward. These achievements include zero deforestation associated with their packaging and paper products.
They also have 2,860,000 pounds of reused plastic in their products, so it’s clear that recycling is a priority. Besides these environmental causes, HP has also invested a considerable amount in worker empowerment programs, with a million people reached and an estimated 150 million to benefit from digital equity by 2030.
Everyone has heard of Visa, but not everyone is aware about their commitments to CSR. Visa has worked to empower people and economies- from micro and small businesses to unbanked and underserved people who need help. They also invest a considerable amount in their workforce, focusing on inclusion and diversity, engagement, learning, and development, as well as workplace benefits.
Of course, Visa wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as it is if it didn’t look after its consumers. As part of a CSR example playing into a given service, Visa has protected payments, offers transaction security, and consumer privacy, even in the cyber world.
This would hardly be a post about leading examples of CSR if Visa didn’t focus on protecting the planet as well. They have broken their contribution down into three uses- facilities, operations, and employees.
Facilities look at the offices and data centers, operations reduce the impact of business operations, and employees seek to inspire employees to not only make changes in the office but to take the changes home.
Kellogg’s is one of the most popular breakfast cereal brands on the planet. So I bet you’re excited to guess how they set an example with their CSR.
This example can be broken down into 4 categories:
Nourishing- Offering nourishing food for people of all kinds, with the aim of, by 2030, feeding 1 billion people a healthy and sustainable breakfast.
Feeding- Working alongside the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Kellogg’s has pledged to do their part to end world hunger by 2030.
Nurturing- Looking after the planet is one thing, looking after the planet so that it can continue to provide us with food security is another, and that’s how Kellogg's aims to do their part for mother earth.
Living- Following in the footsteps of those who founded Kellogg’s, Living asks all employees to act with integrity, hold themselves accountable, be passionate about their work, and show humility in day-to-day life.
Each company listed here has different ways of using CSR that are unique to their business, but as you can see there are many threads and ideas which show up again and again.
By reading through these CSR examples, you can get an idea of how it should be done, and hopefully find some inspiration to help your own company make a difference in the world.
Here at Prodigium Pictures, we would love to share in your company's CSR journey, so get in contact with us today to open up a conversation.