Bite size – what does your CSR policy mean?

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Welcome to Bite Size – our bi-monthly blog where we explore a topic in bite size form – short, sharp and easy to digest

The moral face of globalisation is a very real thing for companies to take note of nowadays. Employees are putting pressure on their organisations to adopt genuine corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies rather than just ‘greenwashing’.

As a company, how do you listen to your employees and adopt the right policies when there will be many different viewpoints about what corporate social responsibility entails?

For some, the right policy on sustainability and recycling will be top of mind; for others a viable policy on travel will be the most important.

There could also be greater focus on certain policies depending on the age of your employees. Generally, millennials are particularly principled, with a Gallup study suggesting they care more about purpose than their salary when it comes to work.

So, it is a challenge for companies to ensure their corporate social responsibility policies unify their employees rather than alienate them.

We would suggest including your employees in the decision-making process when deciding what to focus on. Ask them their opinion about what is important and, whilst you might not be able to adopt all ideas at the same time, suggest how you can prioritise different ideas.

One thing is a definite though, corporate social responsibility is something that all companies should pay attention to as it can engage employees, improve the bottom line, help entice job applicants and increase job satisfaction.

However, a word of warning: employees do not respond well if they believe their organisation is using CSR to give a false impression of virtue. It is also increasingly becoming an aspect your potential clients will look at before making their purchase decision. Increased access to information online makes it easier for consumers to check facts and figures – a CSR policy that is not result-oriented can therefore backfire both internally and externally.

Our conclusion is that organisations must be careful to engage in CSR with a WHAT and WHY mindset. They should also seek to monitor how well they are keeping up with their goals, and how to keep doing better. Employees and consumers make judgments about why an organisation engages in CSR and they are able to distinguish between authentic efforts and what is known as ‘greenwashing’.

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