Depending on who you speak to, the definition of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may differ. In this text we discuss how we view CSR and how it helps companies to create a strong and sustainable corporate culture.
What is CSR?
CSR is explained as the responsibility that companies have for their influence in the community in which they operate. It is a process for integrating human rights, environment, social responsibility and anti-corruption into strategy and operations. You should review, think innovatively and develop your business model, products and services. CSR is basically a business driven by the demands and expectations that come from society and the world at large.
Often, the concept of sustainability is used to emphasize the financial responsibility required for corporate social responsibility to be long-term and integrated into the business model. Historically, CSR has been used by companies to protect their brand from any negative publicity. Today, it is seen as more of an opportunity to increase the company's profitability, but also a way to reduce the waste of human, economic and physical resources and also make the use of resources already available more efficient.
There are three main parts of corporate social responsibility: financial, environmental and social responsibility, but more and more often we speak of a fourth, ethical responsibility. When you do this, you talk about which values govern how the company acts and how it is ensured that the values are complied with.
Environmental responsibility is about a company acting sustainably from an environmental point of view, ie how to influence the environment and manage the resources properly. The financials are mainly about how the company manages its business and what requirements they impose on themselves and their partners, but also how to act to follow up on compliance. For example, it can be about good working conditions. And finally, social responsibility is aimed at ensuring that employees feel good, satisfied, that diversity is balanced and that no one is discriminated against. This includes, for example, performing sporting activities together or sponsoring an engaging athlete or sports association with links to the business or employees.
What does CSR have to do with us?
Some still think; What does CSR have to do with us? But the truth is that it should be an important part of any company's strategy if it wants to be presented as an attractive brand, both from an internal and external perspective.
Why is that so? The power of politicians has slowly diminished while corporate management has increased. Companies' increasingly tangible impact on the well-being of the earth and us humans has also meant that society demands more accountability on important societal issues. Companies that therefore do not take responsibility are at risk of being judged harshly on the moral scale and may jeopardize their own future survival. Companies that instead work actively to integrate and embed CSR in the business have a great competitiveness vis-à-vis its competitors, both in how the brand is perceived but also in terms of how to make better use of resources, increase motivation and improve the company's performance.
How should I use CSR?
CSR will never work if it is seen as a must. It is not morality that causes an entrepreneur to start his business or to take personal risks. CSR therefore needs to be anchored as a strategic resource that adds value to the business in the same way that you view marketing or product development.
The first step for an organization is to determine how extensive one's CSR commitment should be and what we want to achieve with the commitment. Without a clear plan, the CSR work, like everything else that happens unstructured, will fall flat and the positive effects will not be maximized. Then you should specify which areas you want to focus on (finance, environment, social or ethical work).
A common and very effective way for companies to communicate what values they stand for and want to be associated with is sponsorship. The next step may very well be to get involved in sponsorship. Sponsorship of athletes, sports associations, sporting events, personalities and artists to name a few alternatives often involves a natural link to employees and to new target groups. They infect themselves with positive values while appealing to existing and new customers.
Return on your CSR investment
Ultimately, it is about investing in investments that provide long-term value to your brand, your employees and your corporate culture. In this way, CSR goes from being a cost in accounting to becoming an investment - like marketing and product development.