Corporate Social Responsibility has become a non-negotiable component of an organization's business model. According to the Harvard Business Blog, 20% of S&P 500 companies started their Corporate Social Responsibility Programs in 2011. The number increased to 90% in 2019. These statistics prove the dire need for businesses to incorporate brand empathy and ethics towards the community. As per the same blog, nearly 70% of employees in the US believe in working for a company with a vital purpose. 60% accepted a pay cut as long as the company is purpose-driven. This data is an eye-opener for companies without CSR to take a step ahead to improve their business and help the community.
Developing a CSR strategy requires a well-formulated plan. It involves researching, collecting facts and figures, making decisions, bringing people on board, and many other responsibilities. Read along to learn a step-by-step process to build a successful Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.
1. Research and define your CSR Plan
Developing a CSR program begins with deep research about environmental, social, and governance causes. Start by recognizing the general issues in the economy. You can network with non-profit agencies, NGOs, and HR professionals to collect real-time data on the problems. If your CSR strategy aligns with working for human resource causes, you can start by researching what your employees care about and the issues they face. After collecting the data, you can refine it by shredding excess information and retaining only the chunk that explains your CSR goals.
You can define your goal precisely by looking into current CSR trends. Another good place to research is the list of 17 sustainable goals of the United Nations. CSR programs function to fulfill the following responsibilities:
- Environmental Responsibility
- Ethical Responsibility
- Philanthropic Responsibility
- Economic Responsibility
2. Strategize the campaign
After conducting adequate research, synthesize the entire plan into a series of strategies. These strategies should be goal-driven and pragmatic. Set realistic and achievable goals for the short, medium, and long term. Make sure to aim for the purposes that are relevant to your business. For example, if your company is an NBFC, your CSR strategy could include funding scholarships to CFA candidates. Similarly, if your company is responsible for generating an excessive carbon footprint, you can set goals to create environmental equilibrium. For instance, Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007 and has aimed to become carbon-free by 2030. It has also pledged to achieve zero net emissions from its value chain activities. Creating a strategy that reflects your company's values and culture results in higher employee engagement and greater stakeholder trust.
3. Establish the CSR Framework
Once you finish strategizing your goals, you can move on to designing a functional framework for the company to take action. You can start by exploring opportunities that require a social commitment. Ensure that the opportunities you look for are relevant to your business objectives. For example, LEGO dedicated the "Build the Change" initiative to empowering children and bringing out their creativity. Your goals do not have to imitate other companies' CSR strategies. You must look for the right opportunity and pledge to create a noteworthy difference.
4. Make sure to have a Face of the Campaign
Having a corporate social responsibility program backed by the company's executives directly translates into a sense of importance created in the minds of its stakeholders. An executive buy-in adds commitment and dedication to the corporate social responsibility program. Employees get motivated to take charge of their responsibilities, and investors develop trust in the organization. To get the leaders on board, enlighten them about your research-based strategy and how it can align with the brand vision. Explain the benefit it will bring to your organization in the long run. You can even incorporate insights from other brands implementing CSR strategies and demonstrate their outcomes.
5. Launch the campaign
After putting in all the research and formulating an executable plan, it's time to launch the campaign. Design presentations to show the strategies and goals for the stakeholders to be aware of the company's program. Communicate your program well with your employees, investors, customers, clients, and followers. Maintain transparency by putting out public data displaying facts and figures about the program statistics. For example, since 2015, Google has published its annual environmental report, presenting data on goals aimed, achieved, and in progress.
6. Follow up and stay connected
Build good relationships with the community and incorporate empathy as a brand. The corporate social responsibility program is solely a means to make this world a better place through authentic and research-driven strategies.
This was a step-by-step guide demonstrating the process of developing a successful Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. Remember that every brand should design a strategy inclining to its values. It should be a customized plan and not a one-size-fits-all blueprint. Avoid expecting quick results. Even though you may notice short-term effects, CSR is a long-term strategy. It requires aggressive planning and execution to make a noticeable difference in the community.