Why and How To Engage in CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility – or CSR – has been defined for over a decade by the European Commission as “the integration of social and environmental concerns in a company’s business operations and in its interaction with its stakeholders on a voluntary basis”, albeit the expression is said to have been coined by H.R. Bowen. The many shifts around the theory and practice of CSR make it a relatively blurry concept. This contributes to the fact that 51% of French people are sceptical towards the authenticity and effectiveness of CSR initiatives. Yet, 78% of them believe that tangible commitments towards an active CSR policy would enable the company who makes them to gain in credibility. In other words, businesses are not seen as mere profit-making machines any more but as full-fledged players in society. This civil society expectation is precisely what grounds business interests in developing a sustainable CSR policy and other elements make this effort all the more relevant for companies.

Why CSR Is A Key Concern For Business Leaders

If civil society holds high expectations regarding business social impacts, rolling out a solid CSR policy also has a very positive internal impact. According to a study led by France Strategy – the General Commission for Strategy and Prospective –, businesses that have implemented a CSR policy have seen their performance increase of about 13%.

Several reasons could explain this positive dynamic. First of all, initiatives benefiting the common good have an impact on brand visibility and promotion. However, as PwC reminds us, these initiatives should not be akin to any form of green washing, but rather stem from a voluntary and benevolent approach, at the risk of exposing the company’s image and performance to a damaging boomerang effect. This factor is all the more important knowing that 70% of employees give high importance to CSR issues and 90% of them consider that their organisation must commit to sustainable development issues.

Civil society and employees therefore look kindly upon CSR commitments, as does the State. Bringing financial or skills-based sponsorships to non-profit organizations enables them to benefit from tax advantages, as do certain ecological transition initiatives, as pointed out by Pictet. The lights are green for CSR, but where to start?

How to build CSR policy?

As Jean Bodin wrote in 1576 in his renowned Six Books of the Republic, “the only wealth is man”. This saying is particularly accurate for a manager wishing to build a thorough CSR policy. Not only does relying on employees in a “bottom-up” perspective involve them in the company’s global project, but more importantly, it collects their best ideas. ISO standards are also a good roadmap but should be completed.

Another relevant principle is to focus on the organisation’s values. If “independence” is emphasised, why not support initiatives in education? In addition to asserting the company’s strategy, such initiatives are brand image boosters – as was the case for Lego. As the Danish company recognised the destructive impact of plastic on climate and the bad reputation of such a material, they made strong commitments, most notably to the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), in order to effectively reduce their carbon footprint and better their image. The key word to building a CSR policy is written on the pediment of the temple of Delphi: “Know thyself”.

EveryAct can help you go further . Because if involving your employees is necessary to rolling out a decent CSR policy, it is important to create the appropriate levers and conditions for the latter. That is why the EveryAct platform, with its eco-challenges, is the tool that will create enthusiasm in your teams. It will raise their awareness, bring them new knowledge and even offer them a sense of accomplishment by showing them the positive impact of their collective actions in a simple way. EveryAct is the solution to unite your teams towards a CSR ambition worthy of the companies with the most sustainable business model.

March 10, 2021 – 8min reading time