It’s interesting to see who looks after CSR, Social Responsibility, Citizenship, community investment or perhaps another name it may fall under within a company.
Seeing which department CSR sits in often shows the reasons why a company has a CSR policy. If we’re looking at CSR in the FTSE 250 ( for those that do it - and they really don’t all do it which is pretty astounding), in general it can sit within: Human Resources, Marketing, Internal Communications, out on its own by one person to look at, or managed by a small committee who also have other jobs but report CSR direct to Senior Director level, quarterly perhaps – it really depends on what the businesses goals and objectives are for having CSR.
For a business reporting on CSR, it can become anything from a paragraph in an annual report to shareholders; to a 50-page document on the commitment to making the world a better place.
These goals and objectives vary from sector to sector, Understandably so. From ensuring only recyclable cups are used by the water cooler, to having an in-house foundation supporting the welfare of millions globally, there’s an outstanding difference across all the corporate sectors.
Irrespective of the targets, a noticeable trend in all cases is developing now, putting a lot more direction, and even ownership of CSR on to all employees. More often than not now, it is directly integrated with empowering employee engagement through CSR.
A strong example of doing it right in the retail sector, is Marks and Spencer. To start, M&S understand the business value of charity and CSR. Their Plan A project, and specifically their partnership with Oxfam through ‘Shwopping’ is a brilliant and well-documented example of how partnering with charities can increase profitability and the partnership can become mutually beneficial for both parties. Although ‘Shwopping’ has been around for a number of years now, it should not be brushed aside as something "that’s been done now”, it is still very good and sustainable in all senses of the word.
To advance this, now M&S are off again, going beyond their sales angle, and like a number of other businesses they are turning their attention to employees and employee engagement through community work. Not just fundraising, donating or increasing sales, but looking at the benefits of engaging their staff with charities and communities. Employee engagement is business sense, ultimately leading to customer engagement, and therefore profits. - and businesses can do this with charities to make it work.
However, it has been mentioned before, there are flaws with this type of charity engagement, the fence painting and gardening. Often community projects for corporate groups can cause more problems than good, and even have negative effects that are not seen until after everything has finished. But there is no denying that the heart is in the right place and the concept of businesses working with charities is solid.
At Volume 48 Stephanie and I have been working with a number of charities on this 'solid concept' to make it more sustainable. We now have designed a number of employee engagement, team building, experiential and motivational events for businesses to take part in, and even annual programs to sustain community and charity engagement, without causing long-term problems or unfulfilled promises.
Do get in touch or connect with me if you'd like to talk about this more: would love to hear your stories and what you're getting up to as well!