Initiated in the 1950s by economist Howard Bowen, CSR has become all but forgotten in the rush for technology to answer profitability prayers. Philanthropy had at the time been around since the Industrial Revolution, but ad-hoc demonstrations of benevolence don't satisfy a need for visible, consistent commitment so Howard wrote a book (Social Responsibilities of the Businessman) and gave it a name - Corporate Social Responsibility.
India made it a legal requirement to donate 2% of funds to social welfare in 2013. Other countries have made moves towards consolidating CSR but now there's a new kid on the block - ESG.
Environmental, Social and Governance splits corporate responsibility into three distinct camps, so a company taking up what is fast becoming a highly desirable framework of best-practice management seriously attests to put its eggs carefully into identifiable baskets. Environmentally, we are on the verge of disaster and there are plenty of ways to look after things more effectively on this front. Socially, the industrial world is still wondering about engagement and CSR is something most CEOs have never heard of. As for Governance, well, that's down to the way the company is run and as the acronym suggests, these things must go hand-in-hand from this point onwards.
CSR was always important as a concept. The problem has been that nobody is taught how to manage themselves, let alone how to manage other people. "Core values, respect, trust and consideration," - flim-flam topics for brief boardroom discussion?
Times are changing fast. A.I. is becoming consciously aware of human existence through direct interaction and will be learning how we work faster than the blink of a Planck's Constant. People are increasingly discerning about what they will tolerate from an employer and are more flexible in their approach to work-life balance. Company loyalty has to be earned, more than ever before. The ship, in terms of employee relations, has well and truly sailed.
CSR addresses this somewhat turbulent situation constructively and proactively by:
Looking after employee welfare. A CSR policy outlines ways in which employees are given credit, credence and social opportunity, and sets working parties in place to ensure the creation and maintenance of initiatives will be brought about by those directly affected.
Measuring best-practice. By looking after internal welfare, a company with such a policy will be able to measure its effectiveness and enjoy the buy-in of its culture, because everyone stands to gain in the final analysis.
Motivating beyond the workplace. Since one of the core values of CSR is to contribute to community causes, relationships with charity organisations provide opportunities for project development and in-house involvement with publicly visible actions and deeds that will have a direct effect on staff motivation and on the reputation of the company.
Supporting sustainability. With best practice at its heart, a good CSR policy will ensure sustainable growth and development of the company alongside values which are recognisably positive, environmentally friendly and socially ethical.
On all fronts, CSR provides a solid foundation for future movement in the right direction, and goes a long way towards restoring faith and loyalty while assuring stakeholders of continuously improving internal excellence.
A solid CSR policy is invaluable in this day and age, particularly if your company is going to fulfil the Social part of its ESG obligations effectively. Not only do you need to prove compliance and sustainability, you need also to have the full support of your workforce which is, I promise you, only achievable through enabling their direct involvement. A company destined to succeed against the tide of environmental and social uprising can only do so through trust and integrity, through engendering and fostering respect, and by providing platforms for personal development alongside the process-driven data systems that have always proved popular because they are relatively easy on paper.
Dare to take the road less travelled and get serious about CSR. In the long run, it's going to be the best move you ever made. Get in touch for a chat in confidence.