More than ever, both consumers and employees value organizations with a sense of social awareness, com passion, and transparency. In other words, people want to buy from (or work for) businesses that believe in corporate social responsibility (CSR): a general concern for the well-being of communities on a local, national, and global scale–and a willingness to demonstrate that concern through action.
CSR has become a “hot term” in business for a number of reasons. Corporate social responsibility can:
- Bring a sense of unity and mission to your company;
- Communicate socially responsible values to potential customers and clients;
- And make a real, quantifiable impact on local, national, and global communities.
CSR has the potential to benefit your business, your employees, and the world. But to see action–and results–you’ll need to be strategic about casting vision, strategy, and execution.
1. Cast company vision
No matter how large or small your company, you’re never “the wrong fit” for corporate social responsibility. Though it’s typically associated with larger organizations because of their visibility and impact, CSR can also be integrated into a small company or startup, bringing a similar purpose to a smaller team.
Ultimately, any company can dream big, make a difference, and focus on bringing a sense of social responsibility to the business. But you’ve got to start by casting vision.
Casting vision starts with identifying core social values that are especially important–and relevant–to your business. These may include:
- Environmental sustainability…
- Supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, both locally and globally….
- Inclusion and diversity…..
- And more.
At the end of the day, your values will help you develop a vision of CSR that’s relevant and meaningful to your business.
Take Your Cues From Other Companies
There’s nothing wrong with taking cues from major corporations or even smaller startups that are doing CSR well. Starbucks, for example, is a great model for corporate social responsibility through its commitment to using ethically sourced coffee…and through its exceptional employee support (e.g. paying for college tuition).
You may not be able to follow Starbucks’ example of CSR, but you can borrow ideas or models that seem to work well. You may, for example, commit to shifting to purchasing more and more materials that are recyclable or sustainable. Or, you might start a fund to pay for scholarships for local teens to go to college. In any case, no matter how small your business is, you can follow cues from “major players” to demonstrate CSR.
Start with Your Long-Term Goal
One way to approach the vision for integrating CSR at your company is to start at the end goal. Would you like to build a business that’s 100% plastic-free, or that’s known for extraordinary inclusion and diversity? Then start with the end goal in mind and take steps backward to help you develop a roadmap to get there.
2. Create an OKR framework
An OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework will be your action plan for planning and achieving CSR at your organization. It involves two primary components: your objectives, or basic goals that are to be achieved as a result of integrating CSR, and your key results, or the quantifiable metrics that demonstrate you’ve successfully met those goals.
The strength of this approach is that it allows you to keep things simple, remain agile and ready to pivot, and finally–and perhaps most importantly–displays transparency to both consumers/clients and employees.
First, you’ll want to define objectives. How can you make your big-picture vision into 3-5 actionable goals? Some examples of objectives for your OKR might include:
- Reduce waste in manufacturing processes
- Build brand reputation as socially conscious and inclusive
- Advocate for change in education and see an impact on a local level
Next, you’ll want to think of potential KPIs that would validate growth towards your objectives. Key results might look like granular, metrics-based goals that show measurable progress in a particular area.
Some examples of key results for your OKR might include:
- See a 50% decrease in overproduction
- Gain 20k followers on a social media account that emphasizes socially aware positioning
- Fund 3 scholarships for teens from underprivileged schools in surrounding areas
Depending on the “cadence” of your OKR (which we’ll discuss next), you’ll measure these key results at strategic intervals to track your progress toward objectives.
Finally, you’ll determine the cadence of your OKR, or how and when to measure progress.
Strategic cadence pertains to bigger picture vision; this might include an objective that will take a year or longer to accomplish. Tactical cadence typically looks like measuring key results per quarter, perhaps breaking down a larger goal into increments. Finally, operational cadence measures results on a weekly basis, ensuring that action is being taken towards reaching objectives.
Examples of OKRs
Here are examples of objectives and key results frameworks that can help you build your reputation for being a CSR-led organization:
Objective: Become a philanthropic leader in your space.
- Donate 50K to charities.
- Sponsor three non-profit events.
- Develop training on philanthropy in business.
Objective: Build a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly business model.
- Reduce plastic usage by 50%.
- Provide 2 days annually of PTO for employees to do volunteer work for the environment (such as trash cleanup).
- Shift to using only ethically-sourced ingredients.
These are just a few examples of what OKRs might look like. Of course, your objectives and results will largely depend on what kind of product or service you sell. While switching to “fair trade ingredients” can only apply to some kinds of companies, for example, you can always get creative about how you use profits and how you can commit to making an impact on your community through philanthropy and advocacy.
3. Bring Employees on Board
You can come up with a killer OKR, but if you don’t get employees excited about your vision for CSR, you may not succeed at meeting your objectives.
Integrating corporate social responsibility into company culture means being intentional about educating employees on your vision for CSR, incentivizing them to participate, and finally, involving them through strategic feedback.
Get Them Involved
To get excited about CSR, employees need to have opportunities to learn and participate in the vision to become a more socially-minded business. Incorporate CSR into your mission statement, employee handbook, and onboarding process. Consider offering a training or workshop on CSR. And give employees a reason to get excited about working for a business that values corporate social responsibility by offering PTO to volunteer at a non-profit of their choice.
Ask For Feedback
One of the best ways to engage employees on CSR is to show them that you value their feedback on your strategies and objectives. Nailted is an employee engagement platform that allows you to gather strategic, measurable feedback from your employees through a convenient, anonymous polling cycle.
Make your CSR last
It might be easy to get excited about corporate social responsibility, develop a vision and OKR, and then let it get waylaid by day-to-day workflows. More than commitment, making corporate social responsibility a deep and lasting value at your company simply requires strategy.