The FM's Guide to Healthy Culture and Corporate Social Responsibility

Unpacking Corporate Social Responsibility

corporate social responsibilityIt would be hard to deny that as the economy becomes more global, consumers are becoming more concerned about their favorite companies’ business practices. What they buy in South Dakota may have a direct link to a community in South Africa. So companies are now embracing the concept known as corporate social responsibility. But what is corporate social responsibility, and how does it contribute to a healthy corporate culture?  We’ve curated some insight to explain its importance.

CSR Defined

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is part of what’s known as the “triple bottom line.” This take on the traditional bottom line of course includes revenue. However, it also adds social and environmental factors to the mix. CSR recognizes that the company impacts players besides stakeholders and shareholders, acknowledging that local and international communities, as well as the natural environment, are all part of its bottom line. Today, this acknowledgement is a crucial component of a healthy corporate culture.

Why It Matters

Sustainability and fair trade are no longer the concerns of the select few—they’re increasingly becoming more and more important to both consumers and employees. According to research conducted by TheLadders, a site for job-seekers, almost 90 percent of respondents placed high value on companies with eco-friendly initiatives. On the customer’s side, a study by Core Communications and Echo Research revealed that 90 percent of buyers would choose the product that “supports a good cause,” when deciding between two products of “similar price and quality.”

Types of CSR

CSR takes many different shapes; there’s environmental CSR, which may focus on decreasing pollution and practicing green strategies. There’s charitable CSR, which focuses on the donation of the company’s time, money, and resources. There’s also a branch of CSR that emphasizes ethical labor concerns. It focuses on ensuring the fair treatment of workers, which is an  important issue for companies with global outposts, where workers may not have the same labor laws protecting them as American workers do.

How Large Companies Put It Into Practice

Some of today’s biggest brands are making efforts to support their suppliers, customers and community members. Take Starbucks, for example. It uses its C.A.F.E. policy to ensure that its coffee is produced under the most ethical conditions possible. Ben & Jerry’s has established a fair trade dairy farm in Vermont, and its ice cream only contains fair trade products.  Meanwhile, Haagen-Dazs is focusing on educating the public about the importance of honeybees to food production: They pollinate a third of our foods, and bee populations are dwindling.

CSR In Your Company

Environmental management expert Rob Fenn writes that there are many things you can do practice CSR in your own workplace, regardless of your company’s size:

    1. Take a look at the supplies that are delivered to your office—are they local, or are they     delivered from a distant location? If you switch to local suppliers, you can cut costs on     delivery and support your surrounding community at the same time.

    2. Think of a way to get involved with a charity; ask employees what organization they’d most like to support, and brainstorm a way to get involved with that organization. This could be anything from a day spent volunteering, to providing sponsorship, to creating a special partnership with the company.

    3. Consider providing training or part-time opportunities to workers who are seeking employment. While you may not be able to offer them full-time work, you can give back to your community by helping its members build up their skill sets.

    4. Make the effort to save on paper and other resources. Given that the average worker     uses 11 sheets of paper per day, a normal eight-hour can have a big impact on the earth’s reserve of natural resources. Identifying ways to cut down on the office paper trail, from recycling to using paper-saving software programs, can help prevent this problem.

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