Corporate Social Responsibility: Practice What You Preach
Published on October 15, 2018, at 10:30 p.m.
by Anna Claire Toxey.
During a time when it is becoming increasingly important for companies to please customers, employees and communities, more focus is placed on corporate social responsibility than ever before. While some companies are publicly scrutinized for failed CSR efforts, others receive praise for efforts to bring about positive change at all levels.
So, what exactly is the key to talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to having strong CSR in a company?
Google, recently named the top company for corporate social responsibility in 2018, shows us that it starts with removing the word “social.” This word often leads to the common misconception that CSR has to be externally focused, which in reality is quite far from the truth.
CSR is a multifaceted concept that extends well beyond just being socially responsible. Components such as legal, financial and ethical responsibility all factor into the success of a company’s overall CSR efforts. After all, how can a company tackle societal issues before it tackles its own internal issues?
In addition, companies must ensure that CSR efforts are sustainable. It is easy for companies to appear socially responsible by organizing short-term programs to address prevalent societal issues. However, a company’s true dedication to enacting change shines through when it establishes long-term CSR projects.
The Walt Disney Company proves the importance of continued support for a cause through its Disney Conservation Fund. The DCF, which was established more than 20 years ago, was created to recognize organizations and individuals who make significant contributions to conservation efforts. Since its inception, the DCF has awarded more than $75 million to conservation organizations.
Although some may argue that $75 million doesn’t sound like a lot for an organization as large as The Walt Disney Company, it is the intentions behind the donations and program that should be the focus. The company’s commitment for more than two decades to supporting those who protect our wildlife is a prime example of how sustained CSR can paint a company in a positive light.
While designing a sustainable program is half the battle, ensuring that CSR initiatives have a global reach is the other half. Yes, one could argue that it makes sense for a company to focus on social issues closer to home, but companies like Microsoft understand that successful CSR requires a global perspective.
The American-based tech company maintains a strong focus on implementing educational seminars in foreign countries. For example, the company’s Hour of Code program in Taiwan is designed to help both educators and staff members of nonprofit organizations learn basic coding skills for their jobs. Additionally, Microsoft announced just last month that it is partnering with the Data Security Council of India to start a new CSR program called CyberShikshaa, which will teach women in India about Cybersecurity.
Going above and beyond like Microsoft when it comes to practicing global CSR can’t always be expected of every company. However, for large, multinational companies that have the resources to launch CSR programs in other countries, it’s a distinguishing factor that can set them apart.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong way for companies to go about practicing CSR, but there are certainly many ways that companies can stand out with their initiatives. Leaders such as Google, The Walt Disney Company and Microsoft show us that to be a game changer in the world of CSR, you truly have to put your money where your mouth is.