As corporate social responsibility has evolved into a major component of corporate strategy, so has the importance and urgency to “get it right.” Firms are now forced to deal with the implications of undertaking a more responsible approach to doing business, both internally (building the business case for a CSR strategy) and externally (avoiding the trap of “green washing”). And while the benefits of a “triple bottom line” approach may seem obvious, the road to get there remains unclear to many.
The section below presents key elements to consider when undertaking a CSR strategy, as well as relevant discussions for further insight. We invite you to take part in the discussions and share your perspective with the Development Crossing network.
Fire Your CSR Department!
A provocative headline for an article but Chris raises some important points. “Corporate social responsibility is a principle, not a department,” and therefore if it’s not fully integrated into the culture of an organization, does it stand a chance of living up to its promise? Easier said than done, right? Some companies are fortunate to have senior leadership that understands the importance of CSR, and have therefore built it into the corporate DNA, but what about those companies in which senior-management aren’t bought in to the principle? A recent discussion by Cristiane tackles this topic.
Takeaway: If it’s not being led from the top, you don’t stand much of a chance.
Breaking Down the Silos
While it’s no surprise that consumers are skeptical of many of the green marketing claims pushed into the marketplace, research consistently shows that they still desire more environmentally-friendly products. So where do companies go wrong? There are of course several answers to this question, from over-stating benefits to using misleading jargon, but what about the potential misalignment between Marketing and CSR within an organization. How big is the gap and how do we close it? See Ruth’s recent discussion on the Two Silos of Marketing and CSR for more.
Takeaway: The root cause of a failed green marketing campaign often has little to do with the campaign itself.
PR versus CSR
Can an organization credibly communicate about its contributions to society if CSR is still seen as a marketing issue, rather than a core principle of the company? It’s possible, but it’s a risky approach to take given the connected world we live in these days in which consumers are very quick to criticize corporate efforts that don’t appear genuine. Matthew looks at this topic deeper in his recent discussion, and presents some potential solutions for companies to follow.
Takeaway: If CSR is an approach to doing marketing, rather than an approach to doing business, it will likely come back to haunt you.
Reporting your Progress
With the ever-increasing role that technology plays in our lives, many companies are going digital with sustainability reporting. But with all the new media and technology at our disposal, how do we know what the best approach to take is? Ben presents some new research on online sustainability reporting, and discusses the elements that successful reporters get right in a follow up discussion.
Takeaway: Capitalize on the technological advancements of the day, but stay true to the elements that make a good sustainability report.