Many years ago, a business's only focus was to be profitable, but now, modern companies are also focusing on making the world a better place for the rest. As a result, they’re expected to serve their communities, listen to what their customers have to say, value their opinions, and support them to the maximum level.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are the one way how businesses can achieve this. Most of the time, programs that solve environmental and social problems are done through CSR strategies.
So, whether you are new to CSR or looking for initiatives, understanding the concepts of a CSR strategy is vital for creating a successful program. Let’s not wait any longer because, in this article, we will find out how you can do so.
Let’s dive right in!
How to incorporate a CSR strategy with your business plan
Define your CSR concept
The CSR concept can mean many different things to different people. Depending on their past experiences with CSR, everyone will have their own definition and opinion about it. Up until this stage, it’s essential to understand stakeholders’ concerns: consumers, professional organizations, the environment, local communities, and more. Once you know their concerns, you can determine how your CSR program will address these issues.
You can either choose to define or redefine your CSR strategy for your business and ensure that your entire business is on the same page. After you know that everyone knows what CSR is, you can start discussing any misconceptions concerning it.
Identify who your stakeholders are
Generally speaking, stakeholders included in a CSR approach will consist of all entities that interact with the company and are affected by its actions:
Internal: Include managers, employees, and more
External: NGOs, suppliers, media, shareholders, suppliers, customers, and more
Generally speaking, the CSR manager holds accountability for coordinating actions that need to be incorporated within the company. A CSR manager's duties are:
CSR was once seen as improving business performance and legitimacy, but CSR initiatives are now seen more as a central to operational strategy. Therefore, connecting your CSR to business strategy is an excellent corporate practice.
Linking your CSR strategy with your operational strategy, brand, and core competencies will differ for every company. For instance, we can use WarnerMedia’s Access Writers Program as an excellent example of linking your CSR with your company values. However, WarnerMedia focuses on entertainment, whereas their latest program improves access to professional opportunities on TV for marginalized community members.
Use the OKR framework
Objective key results (OKR) is a goal-setting system that can help you create more impact, build alignments, and bring people who have the same vision together. The OKR is simple; its primary goal is to break down objectives into measurable results. As a result, OKRs boost employee engagement, and research show that engaged employees will deliver better results in the long term.
Otherwise, the OKR framework has been around for more than 30 years and has evolved as a leading goal-setting method used by many companies, including Google, Spotify, Netflix, and more.
The essentials of using the OKR framework is to distinguish between key results and objectives. Objectives define what you want to achieve, and key results will determine how you’ll achieve your goals. In order to get started with OKRs, you need to determine the following:
Define your long-term business priorities: What are your long-term business priorities? Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
Convert business priorities into strategic goals: Pick your top business priorities and focus on defining your annual OKRs. This will give you more clarity on the direction you are heading.
Break down OKRs quarterly: They seem less challenging when big goals are broken down into smaller pieces. The best thing you can do is break down your OKRs into quarterly objectives. For example, quarterly cycles can be separated into 13 weeks since if you divide 52 weeks into four, the result is 13. Moreover, you can aim to progress by a small margin each week.
Convert the company’s OKRs into team OKRs: Guide your team into setting up quarterly OKRs that support the company’s ones. Encourage each part of the team to be responsible for specific key results from the entire OKR. Your employees should focus on your company’s goals every day, and their efforts should be constant throughout the year.
Monitor performance: Regularly monitoring your OKRs will ensure that you are heading in the right direction in the long term, and if any amendments need to be made, you’re there to do so.
Moreover, if you find it difficult to set up an OKR framework on your own, you can consider using an OKR template.
Before your CSR strategy begins, you need to have full approval from internal stakeholders. Moreover, the best thing you can do is research the benefits of CSR and find businesses that have profited from a successful CSR plan. Here are a few benefits of using a CSR:
Increased brand recognition
Excellent brand reputation
Increased customer loyalty
Enhanced financial performance
Easy capital access
Enhanced ability to attract and retain staff
Once you have identified how your business will benefit from CSR, it’s time to determine how you’ll use it to your advantage.
You want to develop a strategic plan for CSR based on what employees, customers, and community members are most concerned about. Additionally, you can get inspired by other brands based on what worked for them. Here’s the most straightforward way to do so.
Set up a customer poll
Creating a CSR strategy to connect with your customers is excellent; however, in order to do so, you must collect the following information:
Which type of social issues matter the most to your customers? For example, are customers more interested in buying your product or donating it to kids in need?
What do your customers know about your current initiatives? If you are currently running a CSR program or have in the past, are your initiatives successful or not?
What type of associations do your customers have with your brand? Excellent opportunity for collecting data about your brand and influencing your CSR strategy. To help boost your results during a customer poll, try offering a discount or something creative you can think of.
Collect feedback from your employees
Your CSR strategy can’t be successful without the help of your employees. Moreover, you can collect employee feedback to determine your employee's preferences and use this information to enhance your overall strategy.
According to Sidepost, 75% of employees and job seekers expect their employer to donate to or volunteer for local community causes. Employee involvement strengthens the link between a company's social responsibility program and its workplace culture and thus getting their feedback is vital.
You can consider using a survey since it’s a simple and easy way of collecting information, combining open-end and multiple-choice questions.
Assess community needs
What a community makes looks like differs for every business. Taking the time to research and consider what your community may need will help you build a better partnership toward your CSR program that will further help you succeed. Additionally, you can consider using community tools to understand better your community resources and needs, methods that can be used and combined, and much more.
Train your employees to ensure your CSR approach is adopted
Along with CSR communication, in-house training is just as necessary. According to a study by the Salarie et Enterprise Responsable, in early 2020, nearly 40% of employees didn’t have the required in-house knowledge, and many employees didn’t know how to give an accurate definition of what CSR is. However, what is more, important from this study is that employees would love to be more involved in CSR practices.
Nobody said you have to go back to high school and learn about the CS, but here are two prominent examples of certified CSR training:
ISO 26000 training
Wrapping it up
That’s all on this article. We once used to know CSR strategies as being used to monitor business performance, but that has changed dramatically over the years. Before you continue any further, you need to define your concept. After you do so, inform your internal and external stakeholders; most importantly, those affected the most when you set up your CSR strategy.
Furthermore, set up a CSR framework, determine your long-term business priorities, and break down your CSRs quarterly. Above all, ensure you provide CSR training to your employees. You want your employees to know everything regarding what is happening inside your company. Do all of this, and we are sure you’ll be on the right path to having the best CSR strategy.
Lydia Iseh is a writer with years of experience in writing SEO content that provides value to the reader. As someone who believes in the power of SEO to transform businesses, she enjoys being part of the process that helps websites rank high on search engines