CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR in the business is about integrating social and environmental concerns in business operations. CSR activities allow companies to act for the greater benefit of the world. This comes from the idea that the business should not be focused only on the bottom line and be conscious of harm caused to shared resources.
The philanthropic initiatives taken up by the organization are volunteer work depending on the values the company believes in. Most big organizations use huge amounts of natural resources. CSR activities are seen as a way for businesses to give back to society.
Corporate social responsibility activities can be self-regulating business models that intend to make a positive impact on the local community and the world as a whole. Most businesses try to do this through sustainable practices for business operations and environmental initiatives. India is the first country that made CSR activities mandatory for organizations of specific sizes.
Types of CSR Activities
There are four types of corporate social responsibility activities as described below.
1. Environmental CSR
Environmental CSR activities are concerned with reducing the harm that corporate activities cause and using sustainable practices. It also intends to improve the present state of our environment. This involves the activities listed below.
- Reduce the company’s carbon footprint
- Decrease the use of non-renewable resources
- Adopt renewable energy
- Using sustainable materials
- Reducing the use of non-degradable or harmful products and much more.
2. Philanthropic CSR
Philanthropic CSR is where a firm makes a donation toward the social and environmental causes they believe in. The form of donation can be goods and services that the company produces or a portion of the profit. The company can choose to contribute towards the effort of any organization and person that can use the donation for the cause company identifies with.
3. Ethical CSR
Ethical CSR refers to the ethical business practices and behaviours of a company. This includes initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Using fair trade policies and paying employees fairly according to their job roles without any discrimination. That means creating values for gender equality, and fair operations towards employees, customers, and associates as well as laws and regulations.
4. Economic CSR
Economic CSR is a combination of environmental sustainability, ethical as well as philanthropic activities. This is businesses backing their intention towards CSR with financial decisions. Being conscious of the impact their business process makes on society and the environment. Economic CSR makes businesses try to achieve a balance between business and the sustainability of the planet.
Benefits of CSR Activities
An organization Benefit from corporate social responsibility activities in multiple ways. Some of these benefits are described below.
➔ Consumer Brand Recognition
It is assumed that the primary focus of every business model is profit but people love organizations that understand the impact of their business decisions and are conscious that they are socially accountable. When a firm is involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, it helps to build a positive image in the public eye. People like to buy products when the company’s values align with their own values.
As a CSR activity, some companies can work with the local community for education or environmental sustainability. That grasps the media attention which further improves brand recognition and helps companies to reach a greater audience. Furthermore, it improves connection with people on an emotional level. Buying from the brand gives them a sense that they are helping a cause that the company is working on with their CSR.
➔ Increase Employee Engagement
When the company is involved in CSR activities and allows employees to participate in the activities it helps to improve employee engagement by boosting employee morale. Participating in the activities along with the local communities and their colleague develops team building spirit. As a collective effect, in addition to that employees become more effective at work.
Volunteering for CSR activities gives employees the opportunity to bond with their colleagues on a personal level. Furthermore, engaged employees are more likely to stay longer in the company, reducing employee turnover.
➔ Elevate Among a Competition
Once you get consumer brand recognition as one of the socially responsible companies it indirectly increases the level of trust people put in the brand. As mentioned above people love to support a good cause.
It gives them a sense of social responsibility and achievement. There is also some sort of sense of belonging when the consumer values align with the company brand which gives you an upper hand over the competitor who is not involved in the CSR activities.
For example, when it comes to buying decisions and two closely related products are being compared the buyer may compromise on price or delivery time a little to support the company’s CSR activities program.
➔ Cost Saving
There are many CSR activities that help you to reduce the cost for the company in many direct and indirect ways. As CSR activities lead to better employee engagement which translates to a reduction in the cost of hiring as well as better production.
Similarly, when a company invest in some long-term impact initiative such as switching to renewable energy or including the use of recycled goods. Initially, it may seem expensive but in a long run, it causes a significant reduction in the overall cost of production and increases profit.
➔ Employer Brand
Millennials and Gen Z form a major section of the workforce today. They are keen on corporate responsibility and the impact their actions make on the environment. That makes them prefer to work with companies that engage in CSR activities and contribute to making the world a better place.
having a corporate social responsibility program helps you to build a good employer brand. This happens as the combined effect of media coverage as well as what your employees talk about the company on their social media.
Employee engagement and CSR also extend the company’s reach to the top talent in the industry as the organization is tagged and mentioned multiple times for their effort. That helps to build a strong image as a highly socially responsible than an irresponsible company.
Ideas for CSR Activities
The CSR activities do not have to be in the field or domain that the company is working in. Nor do you need to limit yourself to a particular type of CSR activity. A company’s CSR programs can be an amalgamation of multiple types of corporate social responsibility activities or stick to a single one. Here are some suggestions for CSR activities for your business.
1. Volunteer Program
A company can take the initiative where they allow their employees to volunteer for some kind of work. Volunteering can be in the form of time or skills. For example, you can motivate your employees to donate their time to a social cause along with local community involvement. That can be your company helping clean the beaches and surroundings along with local groups.
In addition to that CSR activities can be more skill oriented as all your employees possess some kind of skills. While they are donating their time they can also share their skills and knowledge. For example, educating local kids and youth on basic computer skills as well as soft skills such as communication.
You can ask your employees for suggestions for CSR activities they would love to volunteer for. That will increase their morale and they will feel more involved in corporate social responsibility as well as you will observe greater employee engagement.
2. Employee Training
Education and professional development are essential for the development of the nation. Education and upskilling help people get employment and thrive in their careers. Providing training to employees can be an extension of your CSR effort inside the organization, after all, employees are part of society in the larger view.
3. Invest in a Medicine
You can always invest in a better future for society by financing a fundamental quality of life through healthcare. One way to do this is to give scholarships to talented and underprivileged students.
You can also sponsor medical studies of bright students who may miss the opportunity due to financial issues. That way can help to ensure that society gets an adequate number of healthcare workers.
If you want to secure the future of society and the country as a whole, you can finance research and development in the medical field as part of your corporate social responsibility.
If an organization want to contribute to the field of healthcare as your corporate social responsibility CSR but doesn’t have enough money to sponsor scholarships or research you can still do that. the organization can arrange and finance some healthcare camps for society. A company can also donate some money to non-profit organizations that work in the field.
4. Sustainable Practices
As an act of corporate social responsibility companies can decide to use more sustainable practices in their operations. There are many opportunities in the business model where a firm can replace the activities and products that harm the environment and go for more sustainable options instead.
Some examples of sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices are easy to adopt.
Using a plant-based packaging material instead of plastic such as cardboard boxes, paper cushioning in the packing boxes, as well as replacing plastic wrappers with paper wrappers.
In industries where you need to use water repeatedly for various processes, they can choose to recycle the water and reuse it. That will save a lot of cost for the company and save tonnes of water for the environment.
If the organization is operating in a remote area with a scarcity of drinking water. In such cases, it will a great initiative to extend the company’s recycling effort to provide clean drinking water to the local communities.
Ultimately it will help you to improve the health of people in the areas as they stay safe from the deceased caused by drinking polluted water.
6. Charitable Donations
Companies do not always need to get directly involved in the activities of corporate responsibility programs. If you are a small company and have a limited budget but you want to give back to society, you can go for donations.
You can choose any charity whose values align with the company policy. That way your organization can be part of an initiative that makes a positive impact on society without having your own CSR practices. Charitable donations also allow a business to be part of multiple CSR initiatives.
7. Ethical Business Model
As part of your CSR initiative, you can create a self-regulating business model that involves ethical practices for every business process. The ethical business model can also involve making sustainable decisions at every step. This can involve practices such as;
- Hiring without discrimination
- Providing the pay that your workforce deserves
- Encourage employees to create an inclusive workplace
- Lower energy consumption by making smart decisions
- Using fair practices at all business operations
- Supporting vendors who provide environment-friendly products and services
- Use renewable energy sources wherever possible for the company’s energy consumption
8. Community Service
Engagement with the local community is one of the most common forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Every company has social and corporate responsibility towards the local community. These types of CSR activities help the firm and the employee to engage with the local community and see the positive impact their efforts make.
There are many ways in which companies can involve in community involvement as their CSR activities. Some of these ways are listed below.
- Supporting local non-profit organizations
- Volunteer for social awareness programs on subjects such as gender equality
- Provide financial support to the conservation effort
- Support schools and vocational training
- Sponsor social events with the local community
- CSR efforts can also support cleaning campaigns in local communities
Engaging with the local community helps to humanise your brand and improve brand recognition among the locals and media coverage will help you to go wider.
9. Supporting Preservation Efforts
There are different methods and initiatives that can be adopted to involve in corporate social responsibility CSR activities that help the corporate social responsibility causes. One of the ways to perform corporate social responsibility is to finance and support local conservation efforts.
These efforts or campaigns can be to preserve local culture, historical places or traditional practices. If such conservation of culture and tradition go along with your organizational values then it can be a part of CSR activities. Such efforts can be great CSR activities to gain respect from local communities.
10. Emergency Relief
If your definition of being socially responsible is making a measurable positive impact in a shorter period of time then disaster management is the right choice for you. In situations where some natural calamities such as floods, drought or earthquakes happen, quick and focused efforts are required. The more helping hands the better become the results.
The firm can showcase that they are a more socially accountable and responsible organization and make a positive impact on society during the time when people need it the most.
Companies can support disaster relief efforts by providing funds and resources to organizations working on disaster relief and recovery, and by supporting emergency response efforts in affected areas.
Corporate social responsibility is the way for businesses for giving back to society. It’s an opportunity to look beyond profit and act in a way that does minimal harm and also benefits the environment.
There are four types of CSR activities and a firm can choose any type or a combination of multiple types. If you chose wisely CSR activities can reduce costs, and improve brand, and employee engagement as well as an employer brand along with benefiting the environment and society.