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3 Tips To Implement And Develop A CSR Strategy In Your Company

André Gonçalves - Editor & Head Of English Market

After studying and working in HR, André studied sustainability management at Lisbon's School Of Economics & Management. He is responsible for the English speaking market of Youmatter since 2018.

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How can you turn CSR into a priority in your company? How can you put CSR at the heart of your business and make it a core value of the company’s identity? Here are 3 tips you can follow.

As a CSR (see: CSR definition) or sustainable development manager or director, you might feel helpless when it comes to attaching your company a CSR strategy. You might have the feeling of accumulating multiple hats and standing alone in the world. Indeed, having to convince other people without success can be a bit discouraging. From HR to finance, operations or marketing, CSR managers can have a hard time when others are too busy to help them, for instance, design a strategy to raise awareness, give a budget when the priorities are not aligned or show how things work to then co-create ways of making the supply-chains, responsible for 90% of companies environmental impacts, more sustainable.

But working in a CSR role can also be very fulfilling when CSR becomes an essential part of the company, starts being part of its DNA and becomes a core value of the business identity. But how can you guarantee all the company’s employees are truly living up a CSR mindset? How can you place CSR right at the heart of your business? We have 3 tips to share with you.

1 – Transpose Your CSR Commitment To A Public Commitment

For a company, it is easy to set CSR commitments internally without really following them. A commitment has been made but there’s nothing really binding in there since no one outside the company is aware. That’s why when you want to make CSR a core value in a company, you must first make it public.

In this way, A CSR commitment really has the potential of becoming something important when the company, via the voice of its CEO, using communication materials or marketing messages publicly declares it’s intentions. Furthermore, if it is also declared what internal efforts come along with these intentions, what transformations will take place and what impact is estimated, the power of the public commitment gets even higher.

In concrete terms, this means that as long as a company doesn’t share with consumers, the public, investors and all other stakeholders what are its CSR ambitions, these goals are likely to remain theoretical. So, do you want to put CSR rock n’ rolling in your company? At some point, you will have to formalize your strategy in your external communications!

2 – Motivate Top Managers With The Right Incentives

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According to a study by the Network for Business Sustainability, one of the most important levers for the success of a CSR strategy is the involvement of senior managers. Why is so? Simply because they are the foundations of the strategic axes of the company. They are the ones who set the objectives for the employees they lead and they’re the ones doing the guidance behind the strategic actions being carried out. And of course, it’s also up to them to re-communicate the sustainable development strategies set by the CSR departments.

Top managers work as a fundamental bridge to help transform CSR objectives into concrete actions for the operational unit to take. Without them, it is hard to have employees motivated to change some of their behaviors or taking some new action. They have the role of helping them understand the reasons behind the changes a CSR strategy is likely to bring.

It is therefore important to have senior managers updated on the pocket on CSR topics. This, of course, involves a lot of awareness and pedagogy in order to build a CSR culture within your top management. But it can also involve more concrete actions, for example, aligning part of the managers’ remuneration to the achievement of CSR objectives. At that time, CSR becomes a goal to reach, as it became part of the performance metrics, and a positive target to be reached.

3 – Raise Awareness And Co-Build With Employees At All Levels

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For CSR to truly be a daily part of your business, all employees need to be involved. Although the CSR manager might sometimes be seen as an obstacle to working that makes people work in circles. He’s the one defining additional goals and targets and often sets up many restrictions on how to achieve them. And he’s not always well connected with the realities on the ground too. In these situations, workers start perceiving CSR as a constraint that brings extra-work that’s hard to develop and accomplish.

It is, therefore, important, that all employees are aware of the company’s CSR actions and the reasons behind them. They need to understand in what way these changes and new goals are useful for the company and also what it can bring back to them personally. Let them know the office will open and close earlier to take advantage of the sunlight. Or that they’ll need to reach out to old suppliers and ask them to be more sustainable because the company wants to reduce its CO2 footprint and fight climate change. Or that you’ll new to find a new paper supplier that cares about forest protection because of biodiversity loss. That recycling will be mandatory as the circular economy is the way to avoid a waste crisis. Let them know why – it’ll help foster change!

Something else that’s also crucial is the co-design of new CSR actions. Employees are the ones implementing CSR actions on a daily basis in the field. Who better than them to let you understand what can be done, what will be harder and what’s likely to have a higher impact? In this way, organizing dialogue sessions around CSR themes allows simultaneously involving employees in the process and giving them the feeling of contributing to the overall strategy, being heard and acknowledged for their expertise and experience. As a result, motivation, commitment,  feeling of belonging and even evangelizing others to act sustainably too are expected outcomes.

Images credits to meeting on Shutterstock, incentives on Shutterstock and brainstorm on Shutterstock

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