CSR Watch: What’s coming up this winter

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is incredibly important to improving outcomes for society, especially because of the relative strength of corporate power and because Government’s aren’t as into regulation as they used to be…

Sadly, many organisations still don’t have a functioning CSR plan, nor do they actively support a group of employees to engage internally on this area. The result is half-cooked greenwashing campaigns, the occasional donation to charity, an incredibly difficult time for community projects interested in finding corporate sponsorship, and ad hoc reporting on CSR which makes it difficult for consumers to actually tell who’s got the goods and who is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

The goal of Step Changers is to try change this landscape, to make great corporate social responsibility normal and a whole lot better in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

To do this, there’s a change needed both at a local level and at a more macro level. Locally, businesses with good intentions need to be equipped with good tools to develop strong CSR plans and the ability to be matched with community projects that make sense for their businesses and stakeholders.

Step Changers is working on this by developing a living database of community projects that businesses can tap into and by designing a toolkit for companies interested in CSR that’s been signed off and developed by academics in the field. We achieved the first milestone to this work last year, when our database first became searchable if a company briefed us and when we launched our 16 guidelines for CSR. This year, the goal is to make that database publicly searchable so businesses can find projects that suit their needs themselves. We’re also releasing then next phase of our CSR Toolkit in June 2019.

At the more macro level, we recognised that change will only happen if there is a culture shift of expectations around what we want from the companies we interact with and work for...

This change comes more tacitly, with research on reporting, events to encourage step changing individuals to meet up and discuss ideas, with speaking on CSR to decision-makers at various levels of companies, and with the communications we do on corporate social responsibility. It’s a softer kind of change that will take time, activism, a community, and the regular exchange of ideas as we shape what ‘great’ CSR looks like compared to what ‘average’ CSR looks like for a company.

This winter, Step Changers has a number of milestones it is scheduled to reach that help bring about this change at both a local and macro level.

We’re really excited about the work that’s coming up this year. A shift in our own thinking has helped make us really clear on what we’ll be focusing on for the next few months, and helps mark a shift out of ‘start up’ mode and into a more steady state of operations.

Coming up, we have a few things to watch out for:

  1. The launch of our event series: dates, locations, and speakers are coming soon for all events, but we can confirm at this stage we will be hosting a Wellington-based event this winter to celebrate 3 years of Step Changers and to discuss how better CSR can solve challenges in the local community. Keen to sponsor this event? Let us know if you’re keen to be a part of it.

  2. The bigger and better CSR toolkit is coming out in late July after about 15 months of work! It’s been reviewed by our academic advisors and subject to much internal debate to get it to this point. Sign up for our emails to get word of this when it launches.

  3. A focus on the public side of our database of community projects. If you know a front-end developer who might be able to help our back-end developer with this project, we’d love to know about them. Send an email to rosie@stepchangers.org if you or your business can help.

  4. Other case studies and articles coming out as per usual on change-makers around New Zealand who are working to make CSR normal in their own companies. Sing out to us if you’re keen to be interviewed for Small Talk!

Sounds good to you? If you’re ever interested in volunteering with us, we’re always open to new support and people. Or else, if you’re a supporter from Wellington then we’d really love to see you in person this winter and to get your input on the CSR conversation. Will let you know when the new details on this are coming out!

Collectively, this work is helping us to bring about a step change for New Zealand society; so more businesses come to the table when it comes to solving our biggest challenges and so more employees can go home proud.

Ultimately, that’s what we’re fighting for. A world where we are proud of the companies we buy from, proud of the companies we work for, and proud of the economic system that allows it all to function. Are you?