A few weeks ago, in a CR development workshop for one of our clients, we asked the attendees to individually write down what CR is. The responses were interesting, and whilst contributing to the workshop, it also gave me the idea for this blog.
Many organisations have tried to create a universal definition for CR, (an overview of some is given here). In my opinion, some good, some less so. My main thought is that it all appears a bit too academic for an area of business that is different for each organisation, each industry, each culture.
Due to this variance, I always find it interesting discussing the perceptions of what CR actually is, practically within organisations.
I asked a few colleagues from around CAF, some with knowledge of CR, others who focus on other areas. I promised not to name names, but here are some of the thoughts of my colleagues…
“The conscience of the organisation, (rather cynically) motivated not by true altruism but by the desire or necessity to be regarded as a decent organisation by peer or stakeholder organisations whose opinions could effect the success of the organisation in question.”
Learning and Development Team Member
“I think CSR needs to be embedded throughout the company - I think paying for membership of certain organisations or adopting certain logos does not mean a company has an active CSR programme - it’s moved beyond just making monetary donations.”
Company Relations Manager
“I believe that CSR is a business’ way of delivering a positive social impact.”
Senior Company Relations Manager
“Companies undertaking positive activities that benefit the communities they impact, their focus can be different dependent on who their most important stakeholder is.”
Company Relations Manager
It is interesting that the first quotation, from someone not involved in CR, focuses purely on reputational issues, highlighting the perception problem of CR that clearly exists, but potentially not given enough thought by the CR sector?
The remaining thoughts, focus on social impact, and touch on the need to be strategic CR rather than chequebook philanthropy.
So, having seen these, I better put my cards on the table! For me CR is “a strategic focus on developing a long term business that creates benefits for multiple stakeholders whilst striving to reduce its negative impacts”. I have pushed for further embedding in the core business whilst emphasising broader benefits, but also highlighting that CR is often about not doing something – which can be very difficult.
What do you think?
Jonathan Gill, Corporate Advisory Manager, CAF
If you want to understand what CR means to your business contact our Advisory and Consultancy Team who can help you host a exploratory workshop.