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June 11, 2024

How to embed your business’ corporate social responsibility goals

Posted by
Christine Deckert

Our responsibility is our opportunity

A more interconnected, interdependent world necessitates that businesses have a greater responsibility to assess and improve the scope of their impact on people and the planet. Leaders who are exploring and implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives likely consider traditional avenues for setting goals: KPIs are identified, objectives are set and a plan is made. However, corporate social responsibility initiatives are different from traditional business development. Embedding an effective CSR strategy requires a deeper cultural connection that is shaped from the core of who you are and what you believe. Otherwise, words without real action can be seen or perceived as performative, purpose-washing or greenwashing, hurting your credibility and reputation. In this blog, we will share how leaders can rally their team around a triple bottom line vision with a whole system view of cultural change and strategic planning.

Learn how we help leaders embed CSR initiatives

Aligning corporate social responsibility, identity and culture

Cultural change, by any measure, is a complex process. For a CSR initiative to be successful, leaders first need to align their vision with their corporate identity. This starts with a clear statement of why you exist–your purpose–and what you believe–your values. Purpose-driven initiatives outperform those without, and by consistently driving the beliefs and behaviors within your organization, your culture, image and operational performance will see gains across the board. However, each component within the org-brand ecosystem requires an alignment strategy to ensure the system as a whole is working together. 

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Benchmark your impact 

Before leaders heavily invest time, money and resources to launch a new corporate social responsibility initiative, a performance assessment can identify strengths and areas for improvement. Benchmarking your organization’s impact can follow established credible standards, such as the B Impact assessment offered by B Lab, or guided by more specific ESG measurements that are relevant to your industry. Most scores assess performance around the following broad categories: governance, workers, community, environment, customers. Some scores are more specific, measuring a company’s impact on climate change, human rights, stakeholders and ESG performance. Once you understand your current impact, you can engage your team and stakeholders to explore ways to improve and expand upon it.

Setting CSR goals and objectives aligned with business strategy through stakeholder engagement

To effectively develop and implement a CSR strategy, leaders need to systematize transparency and accountability throughout the organization. This can be accomplished through stakeholder engagement, strategic planning and clear, consistent internal and external communications. Stakeholder engagement is the process of bringing diverse groups of people together to explore relevant topics and produce co-created outcomes. For CSR goals, this could involve unpacking perceptions around certain issues, building on organizational strengths and finding unique solutions to measure, improve and scale impact. Leaders can use the data collected from stakeholder inputs to set realistic goals that align with cultural expectations and a shared vision. This process may also uncover tension areas that will empower leaders to address issues and cultivate buy-in. At idgroup, we use appreciative inquiry to maintain a strengths-based framework to positively build on what you’re doing well.    

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Implementation strategies for integrating CSR into core business functions

Once diverse voices have contributed to the CSR initiative’s foundation and leadership is clear about their intentions, a focused strategic plan can be developed to translate the vision into an actionable framework. To do so, leaders need to work with their teams and stakeholders to drill down deep within the organization’s architecture, processes, products and services, customer and employee experiences and cultural behaviors to map a series of action plans that drive your goals forward. For most organizations, this is the most time consuming aspect of launching an effective CSR strategy due to its intensive nature and demand for out-of-the-box thinking. However, better business practices put a premium on innovation, giving your company the chance to carve out a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Consider writing a clear job description for the leader(s) and team(s) who will oversee the implementation of the plan.

 

Monitoring and evaluating CSR initiatives as part of the strategic planning cycle

Define your cadence to report on the progress of your CSR goals. Consider adding CSR KPIs into your weekly business planning meetings to prioritize, monitor and evaluate your progress. Ultimately, change requires commitment to long term outcomes, so standardizing how you report your impact and reward your team for their conscious efforts will embed your values into everything you do. Establish proper feedback channels at the beginning of the process to ensure all voices are heard and improvement opportunities are explored with transparency and accountability. 

How idgroup’s From the Core™ process brings all of these vital components together

Embedding CSR goals requires more than good intentions—it demands intentional action and a steadfast commitment to a triple bottom line. And this is where idgroup comes in. idgroup offers a structured transformation process, Core2BCorp, to help leaders transition their business to a triple bottom line model. We help you engage your team and stakeholders to explore what’s possible and position your company to become a force for good. Together, we can harness the power of business to create a more sustainable and equitable world for future generations.

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