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Getting CSR on the table.

Even if you’re sure that you want to encourage better CSR in your own workplace, it can be hard to convince the people around you and get started. There are two important steps to getting a CSR programme off the ground:

  1. bringing the rest of your team on side

  2. future-proofing your CSR programme.

 

1. Bringing the rest of your team on side. 

The hardest step is always the first one. You’ll need to work out the best way to introduce the CSR discussion in your workplace: it might be an email to your manager, an item at your team meeting, or even just fostering conversations in the break room. The most effective way to convince your teammates that CSR could be good for them and for your business is always going to be telling them why you’re passionate about it. To help you out, here are resources that you might find useful.

 
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How do you convince your boss this is a good idea? Or how do you get your staff on board?

Although we romanticise doing good in the workplace, it also has tangible benefits - most importantly for staff engagement and retention. There is less evidence that CSR changes buyer behaviour, but it can induce brand loyalty over the long run and help your organisation navigate fundamental shifts in consumer tastes if you stay ahead of the curve (e.g. like in the single use plastic movement). Being aware of the social expectations for business can ensure you’re better equipped to operate in the long-run.

The key benefits of good CSR act to:

  1. improve an organisation’s public brand and community support

  2. increase employee engagement both internally and within the wider community

  3. foster a positive working environment; and

  4. increase innovation and creativity

 

2. Future-proofing your CSR Programme

The biggest risk to your CSR programme once it’s gotten started is having early supporters leave as soon as its off the ground. Be mindful not to confuse passion projects for a robust Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Take time to future-proof your work by forming a team to lead the programme. You might meet monthly to keep up the momentum on the work, and work independently between sessions.

 
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If you’ve convinced your workplace to let you establish a CSR programme, make sure to set it up to endure beyond you.  

Workplaces are dynamic places: team members will come and go, energy and enthusiasm might die down over time or you might think of new practices that you want to incorporate in future. You need to ensure that your new CSR programme is flexible enough to remain sustainable and keep growing and developing.  

In order to future-proof your CSR programme, we think it is essential that a committee-like group is formed, where employees at various levels are involved.  That way, the CSR programme can have its own dedicated team that work on developing the programme and communicating the work to the rest of the team. The actual makeup of a committee will depend on your team; in larger businesses, a more traditional route may be appropriate, whereas in a smaller business, it may be only a few people that engage the help of their colleagues on bigger tasks.  Regardless of the size of this group, having this formal structure in place enables the work to passed on when people leave or their work circumstances change.  

We also think it is important for there to be an open and honest conversation between those who will steer the CSR programme and senior management in order to work out resource allocation and work expectations.  Any CSR programme will cost money, whether that be through actual financial giving or by team members spending time away from their day-to-day work in order to do CSR work. We believe that great CSR does involve significant financial investment (we use 2% of a business’ profit as a very rough guideline).  However, we also acknowledge that running a business can be difficult and, unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees.

Therefore, it is important to also not make the financial investment side of CSR into a moral conundrum. For some businesses, such as smaller enterprises, it may be more appropriate to set smaller financial target, but ensuring that CSR targets are met and real results are produced. When accumulated over time, our hope is that businesses, will be then able to grow their financial input into their CSR programme. However, to get to that point, it is important to ensure that everyone in your team is clear about how much resources and time senior management are happy with allocating to your CSR programme. That way, realistic goals can be set and expectations on all sides can be managed.      

Key Takeaway: Your goals for your first meeting on CSR should be to discuss its value for the organisation and the resourcing you will require to do it well (time, money, or managerial support).


That’s this section done, but keep going. The next step is to work out the scope for your CSR programme.