CSR (or Corporate Social Responsibility) offers businesses the chance to reach out to the world around them and give back in a way that expresses what they represent as a business. It can be done in many different ways and for a CSR strategy to be truly effective and come across as genuine, the efforts made should align with the company's values.
Typically, CSR strategies fall under three categories. While some companies focus more on one branch, a successful strategy should incorporate something from each. The three categories are:
- Environmental Sustainability. The act of giving back to the planet either by charitable donations or active service eg tree planting in an effort to help with reforestation.
- Social Responsibility. Contributing to the community in a meaningful way. This may be something like a free after-school club for underprivileged children or a free book drive.
- Workers' Rights (this can also apply to supply chains). Ensuring all workers have fair pay and appropriate benefits, as a minimum. Additional aspects may be flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, paid holidays and other initiatives that benefit workers.
A good CSR strategy is crucial for a company that wants to stay competitive in an ever-changing world. Previously it was only important for shareholders and investors. However, this is simply no longer the case.
More and more top talent is looking not for the highest bidder, but the company that they feel they can relate to the most and will offer them benefits outside of a salary. This applies not only to prospective hires but also to existing employees.
In short, looking after your employees means they are more likely to feel job satisfaction and by extension, you are more likely to have a low staff turnover. This will save you money in the long run, as hiring a new employee costs an average of $5000.
Employees who feel that they can relate to a company’s ethos are also more likely to stay in the company. Likewise, consumers are looking more and more to spend money with companies whose ethical values align with their own and are more likely to not buy from a company whose values don’t match theirs.
CSR strategies benefit companies because they help to improve the way that the company is viewed in the eyes of the general public. A positive CSR campaign can elevate a company past its competition in the eyes of investors, customers, and potential employees.
This in turn helps to raise profit margins for the company itself as if people see that the business is aligned with their personal beliefs they are more likely to shop with, and ultimately buy from, a business they can align themselves with ethically.
The benefits of a good CSR campaign to society should be obvious. In terms of environmental sustainability, it is widely understood that the planet needs drastic and rapid action against climate change in order for us to continue living modern lifestyles.
Social sustainability helps to inject time and wealth into areas that may not be able to achieve those things with only government funding or normal volunteers. Putting the power of a business behind a social movement allows for much faster changes and much more power behind the voice.
If you offer your workers great benefits and more, you are creating a group of people within society who feel comfortable and secure within their jobs. This allows for more freedom of spending which boosts the local economy.
If you have a small business then the ripple may not be large, but setting a standard within your industry will likely cause others to follow- and if they don’t, why would your staff ever leave?
How to Build an Effective CSR Strategy
Follow these useful steps to build an effective and impactful CSR strategy at your company:
1. Define what CSR means to your company
There are many types of CSR campaigns. While each holds its own value, your first step to defining a CSR strategy is to define what CSR means to your company. This should be discussed with shareholders, managers, and owners.
It is important to research other companies in your industry and CSR market leaders in order to get a true understanding of how CSR looks in practice. This will allow you to concisely define what a CSR strategy means to your business as well as offer you a clear understanding of your current position- which gives a path to improvement.
2. Define the ethical values of your company
In order for you to truly apply an appropriate CSR strategy to your business, you will need to find a subject that is relevant to you. For example, Nike’s CSR efforts center heavily on getting children and women interested in sports. This works so well because Nike is a sporting goods brand.
If they had instead chosen to try and inspire children with classes about planets it would still be beneficial and a great cause, but it wouldn’t make sense to the brand. For your CSR strategy to make sense, you must be clear on your moral standings as a company.
Without an existing written set of ethical values and a company mission, it will be difficult to decide on appropriate causes to support. It is also likely that if you don’t have solid ethical foundations you will lose track of your causes.
3. Decide on a cause/causes that you wish to help
As mentioned above, it’s very important for the causes you choose to align with the ethical values of your business. This will show that you have truly thought about and actually care about the projects that you are supporting, instead of just jumping on the latest buzzwords.
While your projects don’t necessarily need to be directly aligned–for example, HP printers focus heavily on reducing traffic accidents–you do need to be able to justify how and why this is important to you as a company. You will also need to be able to justify how you are contributing to the cause- ideally with more than just donations.
4. Research your chosen initiatives
Of course, deciding on an initiative should be done through the interests of the company, but once those interests are decided, it’s time to research. This will give you a clear plan on the best ways to help your chosen cause(s), and will give you a solid understanding of not just how to help, but the struggles that your cause faces on a day to day basis.
Once you understand these causes through and through you will be in a far better position for understanding how best to help them. For any cause that you decide to dedicate time to, you should have someone with expert knowledge on the subject on hand.
5. Get stakeholder approval & decide on budgets
Once you have decided who and how you will be helping with your CSR strategy, it’s time to get approval from your stakeholders. This applies to more than just shareholders, but to government officials, employees, and anyone who may be affected by your strategy.
For example, if you decide to help a poor neighborhood, then permission from the mayor of the district will help your cause. This will help to ensure that the causes you are supporting actually need your help, and that the plan you have put into place will actually be useful.
In order to get stakeholder approval you will need to have organized budgets and priorities in order to be taken seriously as you begin to organize yourself. Proper budgeting is a crucial part of any CSR campaign, and is a major point for shareholder approval.
6. Break down the causes into smaller goals
So you have your shareholder approval, and you have a set of long-term goals just waiting to be achieved. As with every long-term goal, the best way to achieve it is to break it down into several shorter-term goals.
5-year goal: Reduce homelessness in your city by 25%
1 year goal: Free resume workshops and free dry cleaning for people going to job interviews.
2 year goal: Expand 1 year goal, and open a shelter for homeless people.
3 year goal: Expand on 1 and 2 year goals, and introduce free therapy and a back-to-work program for shelter residents.
4 year goal: Expand on 1, 2, and 3 year goals, and introduce apprenticeships and an affordable housing project.
As you can see, this example clearly lays out a roadmap that, if executed well, will lead to the successful completion of the 5 year goal.
7. Conduct an internal CSR analysis
In order to launch your CSR campaign it is best to have a clear understanding on where you are starting. You can’t reduce waste within the company if you don’t know how much waste your company is producing.
The best way to do this is to hire a CSR manager. If you are a small or medium sized company then it may feel like overkill to hire someone specifically to manage the CSR aspect of the business. But you will quickly find that having a dedicated person in charge of it all will help to motivate other employees, keep you on track financially, and provide you with details about how the overall project is progressing.
It will also be a blessing as you progress further through your journey, as the more invested in CSR your company is the greater return you will find with your investments- be that company time, money, or effort.
8. Launch your Campaign
Everything that you are organizing is falling into place, your CSR manager is ready and you have stakeholder approval. Now it’s time to launch your campaign.
This should be a big deal for your company and you should aim to publicize it when and where you can. Launching your CSR campaign is a fantastic moment for your company and a great opportunity for you to show your customer base exactly what you stand for.
As mentioned, a good CSR campaign really helps your customers and staff to identify themselves with your business and align themselves with you. Don’t miss out on the conversations that your CSR strategy will undoubtedly launch.
9. Monitor the campaign
Once the campaign is up and running, it’s essential that you keep tabs on it and ensure that it is headed in the direction that you want it to. This is, again, where a CSR manager will come in handy.
Continuous monitoring of the campaign means that you are unlikely to steer off course and if you do you can quickly correct errors. For instance, if your goal is to reduce the amount of waste that a department produces, then they may need reminders not to print things unnecessarily, to use the recycling bins, and so on.
As mentioned, it’s incredibly important to publicize your CSR efforts. How else would people know about them? The biggest question to ask is how you might publicize your campaign. The most effective way of doing so is clear: through video.
Video content allows viewers to retain up to 80% more information than reading alone. It also attracts social shares, with video content receiving 12x more interactions than text and image posts combined.
Video is also a good place to invest your money, as 83% of marketers say that video content provides a good ROI. If you choose to have a CSR video, that video is representing your brand and your brands' efforts to bring good into the world, so don’t be afraid to allocate a good budget for it.
11. Re-Analyze, Repeat
Continuous evaluation of your CSR program is an essential part of maintaining progress. If there are goals that aren’t working then you can adjust your strategy, and likewise, if there are goals that are working particularly well you can push harder in that aspect.
It is very rare that everything goes exactly according to plan, so analyses are your friend when it comes to properly executing your CSR strategy.
A CSR program is vital to the success of a company in the modern era, and devising the perfect CSR strategy may take time. The payoff, however, is likely to be great. It is an important aspect of your strategy to be able to promote your business for the good that it does in the world.
In order to promote this in the best way possible, you must use video content. Video content is proven to be far more effective than all other mediums for ensuring that viewers remember and understand the topics. It is crucial that the video produced is done by those with experience in CSR, so arrange a call with Prodigium Pictures today and begin your CSR journey.