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).