CSR Requires Commitment If It Is To Work Well

By CSR Pulse

Sinking companies often resort to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a way to redeem themselves. This is the opinion of Abu Dhabi-based writer and fashion designer Manar Al Hinai which appeared in a piece she wrote on CSR. However, this is not why CSR programmes should be implemented.

While it is good that more organisations worldwide implement CSR in their strategy, it is a shame that many stop at a one-off donation to charity or a publicity stunt that creates headlines and appeals to clients.

But people aren’t fooled that easily. As the Reputation Institute, a world-leading reputation-based advisory firm, reports that even though the 100 global companies comprising the RepTrek index spend millions of dollars each year on CSR initiatives, just 6% of customers believe that their actions make them good corporate citizens.

Al Hinai argues that instead of supporting external organisations from a distance by donating money, companies should focus on how they can trigger change. This means that CSR should start from within – with an organisation’s members dedicating the time and effort needed to improve their community.

Al Hinai points to Starbucks’ CSR initiatives, which are deeply ingrained in the company’s strategy. For example, Starbucks doesn’t rely on corporate farms for the production of its coffee, but works directly with farmers from around the world. She also mentions British cosmetics and beauty chain, The Body Shop, which uses renewable and recycled materials to package its products and has production factories in impoverished areas to improve local people’s life.

This is how CSR should be done – by revising business models, changing strategies and devising new ways in which to reach customers. Companies like the ones above are socially responsible to both employees and community members.

CSR can’t work as a publicity stunt. Incorporating social efforts into brand strategies is vital because by doing good, companies will also do well.