19 May 14

CSR misconceptions – what to believe?

CSR_MisconceptionsWith new directives, updates in legislation and the changing expectations of consumers, corporate social responsibility is a bit of a moving target these days. Add in the level of nuance that tends to surround CSR and you’ve created a perfect environment for misunderstanding and CSR misconceptions.

It’s no wonder that there are a lot views, expressed as fact, that don’t stand up to scrutiny.  We look at a few of the more common ones below:

Employees don't care about CSR.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking employees only care about salary, work-life balance and other direct benefits. But, actually, this is far from the truth, with 79% of millennials saying they want to work for a company that cares about how it affects or contributes to society [Source: The Millennial Generation by Cone Inc]

CSR is only important when you’re dealing with consumers

Even if you only operate in a B2B environment, CSR is important.

The way your company is perceived will impact your ability to do business. Company image still has a role when trying to attract other businesses to be customers. Your business success can be influenced by how comfortable your business customers are when working with you. With an ever-increasing focus on supply chains, being able to alleviate any concerns about your long-term sustainability will play a vital role in the perception of your company by your clients.

Investors aren't interested in CSR. They only care about the bottom line.

We’re not arguing that investors don’t care about profit. But it’s not their only concern. Increasingly, they want to understand how a business is operating and be satisfied that the business is sustainable in the long term. In fact, 93% of companies believe that they increase economic value through creating societal value [Source: Forbes Insights].

More and more, investors are coming to appreciate that effective CSR enables companies to keep their employees motivated and their customers happy. All of this leads to a healthier bottom line. 

Donating money is enough

Although charitable donations can be part of an effective CSR strategy, just giving money is not in itself enough. By limiting yourself in this way, you’re failing to take advantage of the benefits that a broader CSR programme can bring to your organisation. These include improved recruitment and retention, increased stakeholder loyalty and meaningful communication opportunities.

Only large corporations need to worry about CSR

While the ‘C’ in CSR does stand for ‘Corporate’, this doesn’t mean CSR is only an issue for big business.  It is also important for SMEs. Like larger organisations, SME’s face demands to validate their social responsibility. The drive to create sustainable businesses applies to businesses of all sizes.

CSR is immeasurable

The fact is corporate social responsibility can be and is measured. But, to get this right, it’s important to have the right metrics and the right data.

CSR reporting frameworks, such as GRI G4, ISO26000 and Integrated Reporting, mean that companies now have more guidance than ever before on the metrics to use when reporting. Plus, with the right tools and structures in place means, it is easy for you to collect data, analyse what is happening and make informed decisions.

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