By Todd Ballowe Published on 01-22-09
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility

What is strategic corporate social responsibility and how can I make it part of my organization’s strategic plan? Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is defined by Stanford University’s Graduate School of business as the following:

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an organization’s obligation to consider the interests of their customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and the ecology and to consider the social and environmental consequences of their business activities. By integrating CSR into core business processes and stakeholder management, organizations can achieve the ultimate goal of creating both social value and corporate value.

As of late, CSR has gained noteriety as businesses have responded to two major changes in the last 5-10 years: the increase of public concern over the enviornemnt and the free flow of information afforded by the internet.

In the last several years, movies like An Inconvienient Truth and events such as Live Aid and Earth Day have brought climate change and protection of the Earth’s enviorment into the forefront of people’s minds. As stakeholders in any organization’s strategic plan, the public represents shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers- everyone. Whatever issues that the public sees as important, organizations should take notice of. An organizstion seen as harmful to the enviornment is very likely to be seen as socially irresponsible, and therefore risks the relationship with all of its stakeholders.

Another trend increasing the importance of CSR is the increased use of the internet to access and trade information. Whereas in the past, the details of a company’s actions may have been restricted to newspaper clippings from the business section or academic discussions in the classrooms of business schools, these days any company seen being socially irresponsible may show up in mass emailings, facebook postings or even myspace bullitens- seen by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in a day. Today, more than ever, companies are under the watchful eye of their stakeholders.

So what is Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility? By taking a strategic approach, companies can determine what activities they have the resources to devote to being socially responsible and can choose that which will strengthen their competitive advantage. By planning out CSR as part of a company’s over all plan, organizations can ensure that profits and increasing shareholder value don’t overshadow the need to behave ethically to their stakeholders.

  • Strategic CSR provides companies with solutions for:
  • Balancing the creating of economic value with that of societal value
  • How to manage their stakeholder relationships (especially those with competing values)
  • Identifying and responding to threats and opportunities facing their stakeholders
  • Developing sustainable business practices
  • Deciding the organization’s capacity for philanthropic activities

Does your organization employ Strategic CSR? If you would like to incporporate CSR into your strategic plan, feel free to check out more of our resources library, and if you need any help please let us know.