Nowadays, business is not only about numbers and profits. It is also about the value that the company brings to the society and the environment in which it operates. Companies play an important role in ensuring sustainable development by implementing socially responsible practices. It is also important to invest in projects that bring benefits to society. Therefore, companies should use their position to support socially responsible activities and sustainable development. From this post you will learn what corporate social responsibility is. You will also learn specific examples of CSR activities undertaken by selected companies.
Corporate social responsibility – definition
Corporate social responsibility is one of the management strategies. It is the way in which companies manage their activities, taking into account not only earnings issues, but also the impact on society and the environment. We can therefore say that social responsibility is a broader view of business – one that takes into account social, ecological and ethical aspects. This concept is sometimes used interchangeably with the abbreviation CSR – it is very likely that you have already encountered it somewhere. CSR is an abbreviation for Corporate Social Responsibility.
What does this mean in practice? A socially responsible company undertakes activities that contribute to the generally understood good of society. In this way, they can minimize the negative impact on the environment.
These can be various initiatives, e.g.:
- related to environmental protection,
- improving working conditions,
- supporting local communities,
- promoting ethical business practices,
- investing in social development.
It is worth adding that an important aspect of CSR is transparency and responsibility in informing about one’s social activities. Enterprises should regularly report on their involvement and achievements in the area of CSR. Thanks to this, society is able to assess whether they are actually responsible.
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What are the distinguishing tools of corporate social responsibility?
The most important ones include:
- pro-ecological activities – i.e. all activities related to environmental protection. These are also investments that minimize the negative impact on the environment. These include, for example, the implementation of environmental policy, appropriate management of raw materials and waste segregation. In addition, it is important to implement ecological technological processes, products and services,
- programs for employees – these will include both integration programs and investments in employee development through training and courses. It is also worth considering programs to equalize opportunities – e.g. flexible forms of employment, equal opportunities for people over 45 and people with disabilities,
- management systems – should be transparent and effective. These include: quality management system, environmental management system and social responsibility management,
- product labeling – includes ecological and social labeling. It involves informing the consumer about the ecological aspects of the product (impact on the environment or health) and social aspects. Thanks to this, we distinguish specific products from those available on the market, which allows consumers to make informed choices. Manufacturers should provide information on the composition of products and the content of individual ingredients,
- social reports – they present the way of managing the enterprise, as well as implementing the company’s strategy, taking into account socially responsible activities. This is to show the transparency of the company – thanks to this, people know what is happening inside it,
- activities for the local community – these are projects for the benefit of the environment in which a given enterprise operates. They can take various forms, including: organizing charity campaigns, programs for children and youth, cooperation with local organizations, ecological and investment activities (e.g. building roads),
- employee volunteering programs – encouraging employees to engage in social activities. This is usually done by organizing volunteer programs. They can take part in charity and social projects, e.g. helping in homeless shelters, working for environmental protection, collecting books for children, helping in an animal shelter or providing support to people in need,
- equality and inclusion – developing programs that provide equal opportunities and, additionally, include all employees. This makes everyone feel welcome, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. These include, for example, training programs, support for diversity in the workplace, and the creation of anti-discrimination and equal opportunities policies.
It is important that the actions taken are authentic and consistent with the company’s values. Moreover, they should really contribute to creating positive changes both in society and in the company itself.
Examples of corporate social responsibility
Nowadays, consumers are increasingly paying attention to the values represented by companies. For this reason, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an integral part of the strategy of many enterprises. We can therefore say that CSR is an approach that emphasizes not only making profits. Equally important is the impact the company has on people and the environment.
Below you will find examples of specific CSR activities that have taken place recently.
Pepco brand in July this year. became a partner of the preventive program “Hour for Young Heads”. This project aims to draw attention to mental health problems among young people. Free materials will be available to primary and secondary school students.
The funds will be allocated to various initiatives within the campaign. This will primarily involve the introduction of free preventive activities for young people, their parents and teachers. Experts will prepare special worksheets or lesson plans as well as various types of presentations and exercises. In addition, guides and webinars will be created for both parents and teachers.
The idea is to ensure that each group that influences the mental condition of young people receives appropriate education in this respect. The goal of the Pepco brand is to support children and young people in mental crisis. This is a huge problem in Poland, which has intensified significantly in recent years.
ING Bank Śląski
The ING Dzieciom Foundation has become a partner of the Intergenerational Children’s Literature Festival – Fathers and Children. The campaign took place in 7 Polish cities, reaching Katowice at the end of August this year.
The event included creative workshops and author meetings. Both younger and older participants had the opportunity to talk to writers and illustrators who took part in the action. The event was organized by the Czas Dzieci Foundation.
The Carrefour Polska brand consistently pursues a policy of equal opportunities. From July this year the composition of the management group has changed. Currently, the management board consists of three women and three men. Moreover, half of them are Poles, and the remaining members are from abroad.
The Carrefour chain has long emphasized that it cares about the equality of various social groups. Now we can see that these are not just empty words, but also actions.
Ikea brand in June this year. started cooperation with Miłość Nie Wyklucza. It is an association working for equal treatment of LGBT+ people and the introduction of marriage equality in Poland. She also encouraged her employees to celebrate Pride Month.
The brand has been supporting the LGBT+ community for almost 30 years. She wants to build a friendly place not only for her employees, but also for her clients. Support for LGBT+ people at work is one of the points of the IKEA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, implemented since 2020.
Developer Pannatoni regularly supports homeless animals and facilities that provide them with asylum. In recent months, he renovated the Municipal Shelter for Homeless Animals in Żary. Further actions to help animal shelters are already planned.
Few people realize how difficult the situation is. According to available data, there are currently approximately 230 shelters in Poland. Opening shelters is actually the basic form of help we can offer to homeless dogs and cats, as well as other pets.
What do the presented examples prove? First of all, you can achieve business success and at the same time work for social good. An additional advantage here is the inspiration for others to implement similar activities.
Corporate social responsibility – possible benefits for companies
CSR brings many benefits that affect both the company and the community. Companies that engage in CSR take into account social interests, care for environmental protection and build lasting relationships with various stakeholder groups, such as employees.
The main benefits for companies resulting from the use of CSR:
- managing natural resources in a rational manner (this also applies to waste),
- increasing current financial liquidity,
- higher sales profitability,
- equality between women and men (regarding remuneration and positions held),
- payment of remuneration on time,
- availability of training and courses, i.e. a guarantee of professional development,
- guarantee of additional medical care,
- reducing the adverse impact of business on the environment.
As you can see, there are all kinds of benefits here. Some of them concern the environment, others concern employees, ecology or the surroundings.
You probably realize that companies that take action in this direction gain in competitiveness. But that’s not all! They also contribute to creating conditions for sustainable development, including economic development. You should know that harmony between business, society and the environment is the basis for building prosperity for the entire society.
After reading this post, you already know what corporate social responsibility is. CSR activities can be very diverse, as you can see from the examples provided.
As you can see, socially responsible companies care about their image while improving the quality of life of people around them. In turn, a positive image of the company translates into consumer trust and an increase in its value.
Sources of sample CSR activities: https://odpowiedzialnybiznes.pl/