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Stop Treating CSR Departments as Second-Class Citizens, Why?

Mar 18, 2022 | by Yosy Christy Natalia

Why do companies need to stop treating CSR/sustainability depts as second-class citizens?

“Corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it… because it is good for our business,” Niall Fitzerald, Former CEO, Unilever

A business that is not sustainable and lacks a holistic vision for ‘people, planet and people’ is likely to find it difficult to enjoy long-term customer/stakeholder loyalty and a robust brand image.

According to a 2017 Cone Communications CSR study, as many as 90 percent of customers surveyed said they are more likely to purchase a product or a service if the company’s agenda is aligned with the issue/s they care about.

A Nielsen survey, involving about 30,000 consumers across 60 countries, found that 66% of the respondents were willing to pay more for brands that demonstrated social commitment.

Global giants, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Starbucks, Zara, among others, have their corporate agenda built around the sustainability cause. CSR and sustainability activities have evolved into mandatory business practices and are no more a social obligation. Many countries have mandatory sustainability and CSR reporting in place.

It is high time that CSR and sustainability departments and teams get their rightful piece of cake instead of fighting tooth and nail for what they deserve.

Companies must present a united front toward sustainability and ethics. Needless to say, different teams and departments will have different, often warring priorities, that may not align with a company’s triple bottom line, but the board and the leadership must educate and spread awareness among employees and resources regarding the long-term benefits of following the sustainable path. Learn more about how to Design a Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility Program.

With support from the managers and executives, education initiatives and training can promote a unified approach towards a company’s CSR vision and help the concerned teams and departments gain control of what they rightfully deserve – from funds, essential tools and resources to support from marketing, among others.

Now more than ever, there is a need to give CSR teams and departments a free hand, autonomy to carve out their path to a sustainable, better future while also ensuring profitability. They must be armed with ample funds, relevant learning and knowledge, the latest tool and top-notch resources.

In addition, CSR & sustainability teams need to have access to right tools & knowledge to be able to maximize their impact as do other teams like marketing, sales, etc.
Most CSR professionals feel the lack of support from the management and lack of funds to invest in the tools that can ease their workload or become more efficient. Most of the fund provided to CSR is expected to be used for CSR work. While this is a noble thought it prevents CSR personnel to do their jobs efficiently resulting in lower impact.

In the words of Jeroen van der Veer, chairman of Philips, the successful companies of the future will be those that integrate business and employees’ personal values. “The best people want to do work that contributes to society with a company whose values they share, where their actions count and their views matter.”

Read also:

Sustainability Reporting Software for CSR

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