Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are designed to address a company’s social and environmental impact on the community where it is based. It can be an enormous challenge for companies to create CSR programs that contribute to the community while at the same time highlighting corporate strengths. In addition, many businesses aren’t even sure where to begin with creating their CSR program.
Steps for building a corporate social responsibility program
A solid corporate social responsibility program improves company image on all levels. Here are some common-sense steps for building a successful program.
- Research thoroughly
Research thoroughly before you make any decisions. Consider your goals, target audience, and budget. Also, think about how you want people to respond when they see your brand, what kind of tone and language will be used in company communications, and whether there are any public events that you could use to engage with your intended audience.
- Build support internally and externally
Develop an internal champion: Develop a strategic plan to build support internally and externally. Before starting, appoint someone to be the internal champion for your effort. Their job is to rally internal resources to move the project forward. This person should influence your organization’s key areas, such as communications and human resources, to ensure that people know what you are doing and why it’s crucial.
- Develop an approach
Establish a dedicated team or program manager and assign them to the project. Before you begin, make sure that any other programs in your company that deal with social responsibility or public relations are aware of the CSR program.
- Execute a clear strategy
Execute a clear strategy (internal and external) for your corporate social responsibility program. This will involve figuring out how you can identify opportunities to make a difference in your business and also how you can set up ways of measuring success.
- Ensure sustainability
To ensure sustainability, it is vital to consider the essential functions and activities of the program and how they will be structured over time. This includes deciding on how to support, measure, and communicate success. Being clear about your values and vision; monitoring changes in the business environment so you can adapt to them; communicating with stakeholders; measuring results; building capacity across the organization to engage in program activities; evaluating outcomes; and determining whether there is room for improvement.
- Measure impact
Measure impact by monitoring the organization’s performance in critical areas, including employee morale, productivity, customer satisfaction and retention, and suppliers’ satisfaction.
- Communicate results
When communication is included in your program, it helps clarify goals, communicate successes and failures, and provide feedback loops. This is true for all employees, but especially those responsible for driving social responsibility efforts.
Corporate social responsibility programs have become increasingly prevalent among large corporations in the past few decades, but smaller companies have been left behind. Unfortunately, these smaller brands and start-ups have more to gain from a strong CSR program. Creating and implementing a CSR program isn’t difficult and could reap significant rewards if they are done right.