• mark goldstone

Corporate Social Responsibility - What does good look like in 2020

Updated: Jun 28, 2019

I have written before about the evolving role of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies. In general, adequate CSR is now a requirement in maintaining shareholder value as companies without effective measures are likely to be perceived as risky.

However, many companies want to go beyond adequate performance and begin to shape what good looks like.

1. Transparency – we’ve already discussed this one here essentially the very wordy yet unclear reports, confusing tables and partial information are out of date. Be clear concise and confident in reporting progress even if you have a long way to go.

2. A clear multi-year strategy – If you’re a large organisation it’s going to take significant time to implement key CSR decisions. The public isn’t stupid and appreciates this. A simple table charting progress towards these long-term objectives shows the public where you’re up to and further that your open and accountable.

3. Embed within the corporate culture – not an addendum to the work of the PR team! It’s painfully obvious the difference between organisations in which CSR is truly embedded and ones which serve platitude after platitude. The lack of authenticity is instantly identifiable.

4. Be proactive – this is connected to the previous point - best practice companies are really engaged with the key CSR issues that affect their business. They are finding solutions and working in partnerships in order to achieve change. They are not afraid to take a stand even if it’s a little controversial.

5. Engagement with stakeholders – yes even your critics – great organisations face up to criticism rather than become defensive. Engage in the debate openly and honestly. Yes, there are a vociferous minority of people who believe business is bad and simply find evidence to support this worldview however a majority of people understand there are some complex issues at stake. Becoming defensive indicates that you may have something to hide.

6. Communication – harder than it sounds – recall our survey of 200 Mark’s & Spencer’s customers 86% didn’t know that M&S is carbon neutral but 96% said that it changed the way they thought about that business. Many companies have made massive achievements in CSR in recent years. However, communicating this to stakeholders remains a significant challenge that requires creativity and sustained efforts. Simply publishing another 40 odd page CSR/Sustainability report is not going to cut it.

In the next few weeks we’ll be looking at each of these issues in depth as well as looking at good practise examples.

For more info see our blog page at www.voiceyourvalues.org