Top 6 Challenges For Today’s CSR Executive

By CSR Pulse

Today’s consumers are unlikely to accept the premise that a company only operates to make a profit; they want to see businesses making a difference to their community and standing out from the competition. Customers are presented with so much choice they are often able to make purchasing decisions based on how much good a company is doing away from the workplace. Businesses can respond to this with a solid corporate social responsibility programme. But whilst there is no doubt that CSR is crucial to success, there are still a number of challenges to overcome:

Lack of clarity about CSR

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is often misunderstood and one of the most common misconceptions is that it is all about charity. This simply isn’t the case – instead it involves businesses being aware of their impact on the surrounding environment and local community. This awareness, coupled with a business approach that manages risks and opportunities from economic, environmental and social developments, is all part of the CSR journey.

Integration of CSR

When a company launches a corporate responsibility initiative but doesn’t see it through, customers are quick to notice. It is vital that these programmes are fully integrated into the culture and operation of a company. If they are to succeed, CSR programmes need to have the full support of senior management and stakeholders. They also need to be seen as sincere by the customer.

Resources (or lack of)

Convincing shareholders to allocate a budget to something that may not produce a profit is quite hard. However, by investing in CSR a company can help influence customers’ purchasing decisions. More and more customers are looking at businesses’ behaviour before making these decisions. Whilst on the subject of cost-saving measures, CSR can also help reduce waste – thus reducing costs. In short, businesses need to employ initiatives that satisfy the following three factors: people, planet and profit.

A global approach

Any multinational company with a successful CSR strategy in place knows not to operate a uniform approach across all countries. Having a broad understanding of the ethical values held by individual countries is crucial to success.

Spreading the word

Making the assumption that customers and the local community already know about a company’s investment in corporate responsibility programmes is an easy trap to fall into. Communication – and the right communication – is essential. Don’t just tell everyone about these exciting initiatives; explain how these actions are helping the local community.

Recognising the benefits

The value of CSR is not always obvious and making a direct link between a CSR programme and an increase in profits is not easy. However, it is important to recognise that the benefits are far-reaching and include reputation management, brand loyalty and customer loyalty. There are also benefits from a human resources point of view, with employee trust and loyalty increasing as a result as well.

Understanding the benefits and limitations attached to corporate responsibility is the first step. Tackling these issues directly with a comprehensive CSR strategy will help you generate business value and lead to real social change in the community.