Corporate social responsibility

19 September 2019

What is meant by the term corporate social responsibility (CSR)? It’s a values-based approach to doing business. Certain companies commit to operating according to these principles.

It involves taking responsibility for the impact of your business activities on wider society.

There are no legal requirements to commit to this. It’s a voluntary concept that benefits wider society by taking account of the interests of various stakeholders including employees, clients, suppliers, local communities and the environment.

National Plan on corporate social responsibility

In 2017, the Irish government published its second national plan on corporate social responsibility. Towards Responsible Business: Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017 – 2020 contains 17 actions the CSR Stakeholder Forum will oversee.

The National Plan includes an appendix of supports available to companies to develop their approach to corporate social responsibility and includes supports available from the business network Chambers Ireland.

How does corporate social responsibility work?

There’s no summary of corporate social responsibility that’ll generally apply across all businesses.

You may have different answers to other organisations. Initiatives can influence many different aspects of a business.

In general terms, businesses that use CSR find a way to integrate social, community and environmental principles into their primary business functions. 

All companies from large multinational organisations to small local businesses can benefit from finding out how to measure corporate social responsibility initiatives.

You can experience better performance by incorporating these principles. Among the stakeholders and areas that can benefit from different types of corporate social responsibility are:

  1. The Local Community.
  2. Employee relations.
  3. Customer and supplier relations.
  4. The environment.

Employee relations

Studies regularly show that engaged employees that trust their employers are more productive. The importance of corporate social responsibility to employees’ satisfaction can’t be understated.

If you operate in line with CSR principles you can focus on issues like work-life balance, employee health (such as establishing an employee assistance programme) and wellbeing and overall workplace culture.

The benefits of corporate social responsibility for employees therefore include improved health, more diversity and inclusion and opportunities to have a positive impact on the local community.

As employees prefer to work for employers they trust, finding ways to include corporate social responsibility in management activities should reap rich dividends from an employee engagement perspective.

Advantages and disadvantages of corporate social responsibility

It’s entirely voluntary, but some smaller businesses can sometimes find it difficult to find the time to be socially responsible.

But there are many benefits attached to implementing principles. All businesses benefit from committing to responsible, sustainable business practices.

They can save your business money across:

  • Finding new customers.

You can also build stronger relationships with suppliers and build trust with your employees.

But it’s also a means for generating a positive public image as you’ll contribute to your local economy and environment, which will help the world around your business view you positively.

However, you should always be careful not to go about the process in the wrong way. It can lead to some negative outcomes if you view it as a way to generate more income, rather than offer genuine support.

Some bad corporate social responsibility examples include:

  • Greenwashing: This is where you feign interest in CSR to improve your bottom life, rather than support socially aware ideas. Authenticity is the right approach to take—be genuine and transparent in your efforts.
  • Using CSR to hide problems: If you use the principles to create positive press in the hope it’ll hide any controversies, this can backfire.
  • Losing interest in your projects: CSR is a long-term commitment and you mustn’t lose interest in your ideas over time. This can reflect badly on your organisation—it can come across as your interest was in positive PR.

Need more information?

Interested in making your business more socially responsible? Get immediate help by calling: 1890 252 923.

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