Taryn Dunmars

To set your organization apart from the pack, developing a CSR strategy is imperative. A company without an effective CSR strategy is like a car with no engine — it just won’t work. 

Corporate social responsibility is a worldwide trend that organizations should implement, especially if they wish to make a positive and lasting impact in society and get a good return on investment.   

A CSR strategy sets a foundation for success

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be pretty daunting to some businesses because there are a lot of moving parts. From ICSR (internal CSR) matters like DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in the workplace to external matters that affect the world on a large scale basis, like climate change, business owners may not know what to tackle first.  

How to develop a CSR strategy framework

If your company falls into one of these two categories — either your CSR strategy needs a fine tune or your company doesn’t have one at all — this is a post you’ll want to bookmark for future reference.    

1. Have a code of ethics in place  

The first step to building a CSR strategy is developing a company code of ethics that everyone follows. A code of ethics will serve as the foundation that your corporation will need to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them and what standards are in place to maintain organizational success.

Ethics and effective CSR strategies go hand in hand. In an essay by StudyCorgi, it states that a good ethics code can better develop “relations between business and its environs,” and it can ensure a business’s internal and external operations are in alignment with overall business goals. 

The two main factors that will determine the success of a business’s ethics code are communication regarding the code, as well as employee training on sustaining an ethical workplace. MRA’s article informs that effective communication and training are the two pillars needed to uphold a company’s ethics policy.  It also states that “organizations must set high expectations through their codes of ethics and then live to those high standards.” Doing this will create a strong work culture and influence operational success.

Having a solid code of ethics in place will make your business’s CSR strategy run more smoothly. Business owners can rest assured knowing they have laid the necessary groundwork for their business to prosper. 

2. Determine how your company will make an impact 

Now that you’ve established your corporation’s code of ethics, it’s time to determine how your company plans to improve the community, both externally and within your workplace. How can your company use social impact investing to grow brand loyalty and make a lasting impact?    

In order to make an impact that will help the community in the best way, corporations must first determine what the community needs. Should your company invest in a volunteer program for a global initiative? Does your company need a more diverse team to bring fresh ideas to the table?

When a company has a purposeful CSR plan in place, everyone involved wins. In an article by CultureAmp, it goes over the importance of having an effective CSR plan, and the benefits that come with it, which include “community impact, employee alignment, brand loyalty, and bottom line.”

The best way to learn is to look at examples of CSR strategies in action. Socially responsible companies that lead with CSR initiatives are setting themselves, and the community they serve, up for success. With this in mind, gather your team and start brainstorming how your company can make a difference in the world.    

3. Get buy-in for your CSR strategy

An important aspect of creating a winning CSR strategy framework is ensuring that everyone is on the same page. It’s much easier creating an impactful CSR plan when there’s  buy-in from employees, executives, and shareholders.

With more people on board for your company’s CSR plan, there will be more people excited to advocate on behalf of your business’s corporate social responsibility initiative. Alaya’s article  goes over the importance of getting approval from all necessary parties in order to launch a successful CSR program.

There are key components that will increase your chances of achieving buy-in for your CRS plan, which include the following:

  • Determining how the program will positively affect the corporation and community
  • Determining the estimated budget and resources required for the program launch
  • Determining the program’s sustainability and scalability once launched 

Are you drafting up your new CSR plan for your company? Rally up your team and get them to see the benefit for it to help make the process more seamless.

4. Set quarterly CSR goals 

Measuring your corporate social responsibility performance is the best way to gauge how effective it is. Goal-setting is essential prior to launching a successful CSR strategy. A business owner should  determine what metrics should be reached in order to make the most impact in the community.

By setting quarterly goals, business owners and shareholders can accurately track how their plan is doing, and if they need to make any adjustments in the next quarter. 

A recent article by Alaya reinforces this sentiment, stating that setting goals for your new socially-conscious venture will ensure your “CSR project is on track.” When clear objectives are in place, more meaningful work can be done. Some examples of clear CSR objectives, as referenced in an article from Investopedia, include the following:

  • “minimizing environmental externalities”
  • “promoting volunteerism among company employees”
  • “donating to charity” 

Having trackable quarterly goals will help business owners scale their CSR program to new heights. What goals does your corporation have in place for its impactful CSR initiative?

5. Create a system to track CSR impact

You’ve been tirelessly working on your corporation’s new CSR strategy and making sure all of your I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. You’re so close to launching it to the public, but there’s one major question that you don’t want to forget  — how will you track your CSR program’s success rate?

There are numerous ways for a business owner to determine how well a CSR plan is doing, but, benchmarking against top competitors is one way to track impact. 

Do you have any businesses in mind that consistently show up for their community? Or businesses who continuously raise the mark on what it means to be a socially responsible company? If so, those are the businesses that you want to take note of. The article states, “if you can look to who is doing well with their CSR initiatives you may have a better roadmap in front of you.” 

Other system-tracking strategies business executives can use to measure their CSR program’s success include the following:

  • Using KPIs, like satisfaction ratio, number of community members reached, and social contribution to gauge success rates
  • Implementing an industry-standard measurement system, such as the GRI or B Corp Certification

Once your company has made it to this point, it’s well on its way to launching a successful CSR strategy that will impact the lives of many.

After you’ve completed these five necessary steps, your corporation is ready to launch its new CSR strategy. With corporate social responsibility at the forefront, your business and the greater community will thrive.