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Working out the Scope.

What goes into your CSR programme? How do you make sure not to bite off more than you can chew? This section is intended to help you and your CSR team map out what your CSR programme will look like. We go through:

  1. Agreeing on a solid foundation for your CSR programme.

  2. The importance of wide employee engagement at this early stage.

  3. The role of measurable goals in supporting your CSR programme.

There are many ways to go about this stage, and the guidance we give here is only one way. You can feel assured that in adjusting the process to fit your team’s needs, you’re not doing the ‘wrong thing’. Regardless of your approach, we encourage you to think critically and broadly, work collaboratively and be willing to engage with big issues.

  1. Agreeing on a solid foundation for your CSR programme.

CSR activities are different for every business, but they generally all fall into five broad pillars: community partnerships, sustainability, diversity & inclusion, cultural engagement, and ethical procurement. In this section, we go over these pillars and encourage you to brainstorm what your organisation could be doing better against these categories.

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 What does a CSR Programme involve?

How a business' CSR programme looks will be largely shaped by what the business does and the industry that it belongs to. That said, there are some broad pillars that help describe a bulk of ‘normal’ CSR activities across most industries. These cover internal stakeholders via sustainability, diversity and inclusion, cultural engagement, and ethical procurement, and external stakeholders via community partnerships.


Diversity & Inclusion

Everybody wants to feel at home in the workplace or with the organisations they interact with, but for minority groups in New Zealand this isn’t always prioritised. A strong CSR programme should focus on improving accessibility to the workplace, improving diversity in senior ranks, and generally being inclusive, so no one needs to miss out.

Examples include written commitments to diversify Boards, LGBTQ+ engagement, religious and cultural competency training and a broader commitment to understand different groups in society, or accessibility assessments to ensure everyone can contribute or enjoy your organisation’s experience, regardless of abilities.

Community Partnerships

Community partnerships are probably the most well recognised part of CSR programmes, as it will likely involve a philanthropic aspect. These sorts of partnerships essentially involve a business forming partnerships with community and/or charitable organisations that enable the business to offer time or resources to that organisation.

Examples may include things such as a tree planting day, financial donations to allowing employees the opportunity to volunteer with that particular organisation. However, it is important to note that community partnerships do not necessarily involve financial giving, and may extend to other ways to giving such as volunteer days, loaning out office space for community groups or providing employees with the opportunity to mentor or help out a specific group on an ongoing basis.


Ethical Procurement

Ethical procurement is around what you are putting into your business - you accountability extends to what you buy and what you produce, meaning businesses need to think carefully about their policies for procurement and the standards of reporting they’re satisfied with from their supply chain partners.

Examples might include setting clear criteria for partnership and procurement decisions, seeking independently verified updates from key suppliers, or working with validated companies like B-Corps to procure physical resources or services.



Sustainability is the most-established discipline of a CSR programme, with extensive consulting, research, and knowledge already widely available and highly publicised. If this is an area of high priority for your team, we recommend getting a consultant into audit your workplace and to work off their improvements.

Examples of sustainability in your CSR programme might include regular waste audits, a change in product design to make packaging or product less environmentally impactful, using brand voice to communicate a stance on climate issues with Government, or publishing transparent reports (or a small blog if you’re an SME) on the improvements you have made in sustainability quarter by quarter.


Cultural Intelligence

New Zealand is a diverse country that operates under the Treaty of Waitangi, but is also home to a range of cultures and immigrant groups that have unique cultural customs and needs in the workplace. Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is about building your capacity to engage with tangata whenua and other groups across New Zealand society, including our Pasifika, Muslim, Chinese, and Jewish communities (plus more). It is important that a CSR programme has a plan for building your cultural awareness and aptitude over time, so you feel confident engaging with broad groups of people, and so you don’t cause harm as an organisation.

Examples might include: te reo language classes, tikanga training, engagement with Māori workshops, specialists advisors for specific projects, or a full strategy based on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te ao Māori.

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Other organisation-specific goals

You might find that when you’re working through these pillars there is another angle to what you want to do with your CSR that isn’t fitting neatly in one of our pillars. That’s fine - just add your own to this base. There’s no hard and fast rule around what counts and what doesn’t, so treat it as its own pillar and go from there.

An example might be: your organisation might be going above and beyond compliance level for health and safety or be giving really good benefits for its people, and you could count that here if you like. We don’t because we treat these things as more HR commitments - BUT - you can position them how you like.

A Mapping Activity for your CSR team:

Starting from square one? We recommend mapping the possible activities your team could pursue in a shared brainstorming session. Get them post-its.

  1. Get a big piece of paper and start listing all of the socially responsible activities your business is already doing under each of these six headings.

  2. Once you’ve written down what you’re already doing, further down the page, start listing activities you see other organisations doing within these pillars and discuss why you like them and how they could work for your organisation.

  3. Finally, based on how much resourcing you have (time, money, and buy-in), select a few to start with and save any other ideas for further down the track. With this, you’ll start seeing the base of your CSR plan coming together.


2. Broad employee engagement is key at this stage

A truly effective CSR programme involves everyone in your team, not just the few delegated people to be in charge. Your team should aspire to be the hub for CSR discussion, with reach extending out to the wider team for input and feedback. This is especially important if you’re doing this work as a part of your role in an HR or Sustainability team. Great CSR shouldn’t be done FOR staff, it should be done WITH staff. The more integrated with others in your team, the more momentum you’ll see.

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How do you get a wide group of people involved without burning through lots of time and resource?

If you’re dealing with a tight time budget, the best approach is for your CSR team to engage early on with your peers and colleagues to seek input and direction. From there, you should be able to take on more of the leg work, confident that you’re heading in the right direction based on the data you’ve collected. This saves time and helps garner buy-in, and it also might pull a few more people out of the works who are interested in getting involved regularly with the CSR team. Importantly, regularly make it clear that you’re open for questions and new ideas as your progress. Five minute stands up at staff meetings and q+as can be a great way to facilitate this.

You might also try:

  • A staff-wide survey on CSR appetite and interests

  • Leaving a copy of your CSR mapping activity in the staff room and sending an email around for feedback

  • Holding a wider team meeting to present the ideas of the CSR team and to open the floor for questions

  • Put a policy in your on-boarding pack for new employees letting them know how they can get involved in your CSR team and who to talk to about coming along to the next meeting.


 3. The role of goal-setting in a CSR programme.

Corporate social responsibility is already seen as wishy-washy and so it’s really important that your CSR team apply the same analytical principles to this work as you would with any other piece of work. For every activity your team has identified, the first month should be spent identifying how you will measure success and how often this will be reported on - both internally and externally. The more tangible your goals, the better, and the more likely your CSR programme is to succeed.

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How to set appropriate goals for your chosen CSR programme.

As with any goal setting exercise, you should aspire to write SMART, explicit goals for your CSR strategy. To avoid setting yourself up for failure, make sure these are realistic and socialised widely with your team. In an ideal case, you will report publicly against the goals you set as a team and offer some evidence to support how you have gone against achieving these.

We recommend each goal has a plain english interpretation, a more detailed description, any potential barriers, a predicted outcome, and a clear measurement to track and report yourself against. For example, a goal could look like:

Pillar: Cultural Intelligence.

Plain english goal: “We would like to improve our understanding of te ao Māori and the principles for engaging effectively with tangata whenua.”

Description: This goal is important to our work in [XYZ] and will support our efforts in becoming a more inclusive workplace. As [XYZ] specialists operating in New Zealand, we see it as our corporate responsibility to understand how the principles of Te Tiriti apply to our work and to take a leading role in demonstrating these. This means we will be able to use our platform to support Māori causes and te reo language uptake in [our city]. We think the best way to do this is with workshops for staff on te reo, tikanga, and effective engagement processes, at an expected cost of [XYZ]. We will future-proof this initiative by [XYZ].

Potential Barriers: We don’t have an expert in house to guide us and we will need to commit resources to getting their advice and support. We will also seek support of these [XYZ] groups.

Measurement: Number of workshops held this year, before and after survey feedback from staff on confidence, and feedback from external facilitators.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re more than underway.

The next section focuses on navigating the CSR ecosystem in New Zealand - where to get help from and more on approaching community partnerships.