WHAT IS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to the adoption of socially and/or environmentally responsible policies into business practice. Commitment to achieving socially conscious business practice is increasingly recognized by media, consumers, employees, investors, and competitors alike.
CSR originally developed hand-in-hand with the philanthropic efforts of big-wig CEOs, Presidents, and sometimes even motivated employees. Today it has developed into something far more broad reaching. CSR now includes all aspects of running a business; employee benefits and worker hiring, workplace ethics, purchasing and supply chain policies, and environmental impact, just to name a few.
Sustainable business practice, from both an environmental and economic standpoint, has emerged as a first priority for many American corporations—both large and small. Development of sound CSR policies has been shown to increase employee retention, reduce stress in the workplace, increase productivity, save money, and provide marketing opportunities for businesses across a diverse set of industries.
CSR is now considered a basic component of overall business strategy, falling in with the likes of more traditional tactics such as research and development, marketing, innovation, and branding. It is often important to incorporate CSR policies into your business plan from the get-go, but if you are already an established business without clear CSR goals don’t worry: it’s never too late to reap the benefits of a good CSR plan. In fact, by launching socially and environmentally responsible initiatives within your organization, you have a unique opportunity for press releases and other marketing advantages.
It is important to take time to develop your CSR goals so that they can be impactful. The more well-developed that your CSR strategy is, the more likely it is to be effective. Keep in mind the following tips from Peter Heslin, business professor at Southern Methodist University:
1. Make sure senior leadership and management of the organization (including the board and directors!) make an authentic, firm, and public commitment to CSR efforts
2. Determine the top three objectives of the company and then develop CSR policies that will best contribute to achieving those goals
3. Develop CSR policies that are aligned with your organizations core competencies
Integrate CSR efforts into the governance of the company and into existing management systems
4. Finally, develop clear performance metrics, or key performance indicators, to measure the impact of your CSR efforts
U.S. Green Chamber Member ActionCOACH San Diego sets a great example for local and small business owners to establish themselves as leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility with an emphasis on sustainability issues. Even if your business isn’t directly involved in environmental issues, you can be an advocate for sustainability issues through CSR initiatives. Stacey McKibbin, President and CEO of ActionCOACH, has made an effort to assist businesses who are working toward a more sustainable future. By acting as a third-party advocate for the environment she is effectively incorporating CSR into her business plan and helping other businesses too. Check out what Stacey and ActionCOACH are up to in this video on the U.S. Green Chamber’s YouTube Page.
 Lee, Sun, and Carroll, C. The Emergence, Variation, and Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Public Sphere, 1980-2004: The Exposure of Firms to Public Debate. Journal of Business Ethics, Nov 2011, Vol. 104, Iss. 1, p115-131.
 The Triple Bottom Line. Business Europe, 7/25/2001, Vol. 41, Issues 15, Pg. 6