A company that publishes a robust corporate social responsibility statement is essentially declaring its bona fides in terms of always aiming to “do the right thing”. This means doing the right thing in the community, doing the right thing by its customers, doing the right thing for its staff, doing the right thing by its suppliers, doing the right thing for its shareholders and doing the right thing in society generally. In other words they are saying that they are a business with integrity – a business with a conscience.
This can be realised in a whole range of different ways, and in fact there are a whole range of recognised areas in which businesses can formulate policies, all of which contribute towards their overall corporate social responsibility. These include environmental and sustainability matters, equal opportunities and diversity, health & safety, whistle blowing and so on. It can also include HR policies and it will be enshrined within the company’s mission vision and values.
Importantly it will incorporate a strong charitable ethic, both at local level – supporting local good causes and institutions, often espousing one in particular – and at national or global level, promoting larger charities and worthwhile causes.
Of course, this is not all without a payoff for the company. They will benefit from positive public relations (PR) and it will help raise their profile in a good way. Furthermore it will help them tick the necessary boxes when it comes to tenders and other similarly competitive situations.
Whereas it is clearly a good thing for organisations to adopt a strong corporate social responsibility policy, it is important to be mindful of the fact that this could be just window dressing. A good way of checking for veracity is to examine the achievability of their objectives. Lofty objectives may conceal shallow intent. Meaningful detail signals genuine activity.