Common Mistakes with CSR 

Corporate social responsibility still isn't normal or widely practiced in New Zealand, as it is in many parts of the world. As more and more New Zealand companies take up the challenge of developing their CSR strategies, these common hiccups are likely to trip some up. 

Common hiccups:

  • Mistaking philanthropy for corporate social responsibility.They both have a place, but good CSR gets communicated and involves employees in the decision making, whereas philanthropy is typically based on the personal values of a company's leaders, and may not be communicated clearly. 
  • Assuming your staff know what good you do, and believe that's enough for the company. If employees don't feel the spirit and power of your CSR (maybe because it isn't communicated/shared with them), then it fails to be effective for staff engagement. Staff needs to be able to explain what good the company is doing in their own words. 
  • Being hypocritical - communicating your support for an environmental project while using plastic irresponsibly is something a company will be caught out on.
  • Being too proud with your PR - if this is meant to be business as usual, communicate your efforts, but don't let the fuss outweigh the efforts. 
  • Passing responsibility on - offering your customers a chance to donate to a charity at the cash register isn't CSR - it's manipulative marketing, a type of greenwashing. Involve your customers by letting them know if they support you, you support what they care about, but don't pass the buck on to their buying decision.
  • Small scale, big hype. Make sure the scale of your efforts match up to the scale of your promotions. Donating a few goods, or taking two small products off the shelf and claiming it as your major initiative for the month starts to smell like greenwashing. 
  • Criticising the smaller efforts of others instead of asking - could you do more? Or, what comes next?