What is CSR?

15th April 2019

Emma Corbett

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I must confess, when I first started exploring the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement programmes, I didn’t know a huge amount about it. I hadn’t worked in an environment where an “official” framework existed.

Now that I am in the world of providing software as a service (SAAS) to organisations for employee, volunteer and membership engagement, I knew I needed to understand what value these provide both internally and externally; and actually, I got very enthused about it!

CSR is a company’s directive to conduct their business in a way that is ethical. Taking account for their social, economic and environmental impact, with consideration of human rights.

CSR can consist of a range of things, including:

  • Community programmes when businesses provide volunteer support and work with local community groups to improve the quality of life of the people in the local community.
  • Projects that improve the wellbeing of the staff in the workplace and beyond.
  • Philanthropy – when a business donates money to a good cause.

What is the driving force?

We are now in a world where ‘Social and Environmental Conscience’ is at the forefront of our minds. I am pleased to announce that I am now one of ‘those’ people.

blue planet

I drive people bonkers around me.

Ticking them off for using disposable coffee cups, or when leaving the tap running, or being at the supermarket and refusing to purchase a plastic bag despite having a trolley load of goods. And this is because Environmental CSR has been a hot topic of late, which has really started to challenge people’s morals around sustainability.

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet was absolutely the catalyst to this movement. Since his series, we have seen various food chains eradicate plastic straws, pupils striking over global warming, Iceland ban palm oil and the launch of The Great British Beach Clean.

Ultimately, most people want to do good and organisations are responsible for the health of our planet, the resources they use and the health, mental and physical wellbeing of their employees.

This is where a company’s approach to contribute to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.

CSR and employee engagement go hand-in-hand, and it will be impossible to achieve the responsibility corporate organisations face without the driving force of their workforce. Igniting and then fulfilling the growing passion around staff is a challenge, but one which needs addressing – otherwise it will become detrimental to their brand and reputation.

What happens if your company doesn’t do anything about it?

Research has shown that across industries, 10-15% of global workforces can be categorised as disconnected. Where low levels of engagement are present, this increases the probability of a member of staff leaving the company. It’s estimated that a disconnected staff member is likely to leave within the next year.

The opposite is seen in companies who are highly focussed on employee engagement and wellbeing.

I was told by a leading financial service provider recently that they are actually being asked to report on their CSR contributions within new business proposals. I think that’s awesome.

How have things changed?

People are aware of the problems that affect a lot of people in society, especially millennials.

By 2020, Millennials (now aged between 23 and 37) will make up 35% of the global workforce and are described as being educated, positive about tech, entrepreneurial, civic orientated, environmentally conscious and progressive. It has also been revealed that they will make choices about the ethics of the companies and who they want to work for when job searching.

New studies have revealed that 70% of millennials regularly donate to a charity, and 62% of baby boomers volunteer often. I find this staggering. Younger people are making much more of an impact by using their skill set to help their communities, and there appears to be a movement now of school children driving change as witnessed recently with environmental marches.

Companies are now being asked for the first time to demonstrate what contributions they are making toward giving back to their community, and how they will provide support to their staff.

We are not naïve enough to understand that CSR performance is critical for survival, however, it is now a contributing factor to profitability and growth.

Remember – your employees, your customers and the world expects more from organisations and leaders.

How a CSR Management Software can support organisations

A CSR Management Platform can support you to manage your CSR/Employee engagement scheme, e.g. by recording your staff team’s community volunteering hours and the skills they provide, and also provide reports to your Board to evidence the impact and achievement of your CSR programme.


This blog was written by:

Emma Corbett
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