Implement CSR Commitments

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What is CSR Commitments?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments are voluntary actions taken by businesses to address social and environmental issues beyond their legal obligations. These commitments can include actions related to environmental sustainability, philanthropy, ethical labor practices, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion.

Companies may make these commitments through various means, such as a CSR policy, a sustainability report, or a public pledge or initiative. By making CSR commitments, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental responsibility and their role in creating a more sustainable and equitable future.

Implement CSR Commitments

Every organisation is different and will approach CSR implementation in different ways. Leading companies like ABN Amro, Tata’s, HDFC, Infosys and others who integrate CSR for developing long term sustainability follow the following steps for implementing CSR.

Develop an Integrated CSR Decision-making Structure

Every organisation should align its CSR goals and decision-making with its overall goals and strategies so that incorporating CSR considerations in corporate decision-making becomes as natural as taking customer perspectives into account.

Some organisations will prefer a centralised CSR decision-making structure (TCCI)1 , others a de-centralised one (ABN AMRO), while still others will want a hybrid, depending on their operating features and management style (Sumitomo Corporation). There is no single way of organizing an organisation’s CSR decision making structure.

As CSR is fundamentally concerned with transparency, accountability and performance, it is important for the CSR decision-making structure to be an integral component of the organisation’s governance activities and be visible.

The CSR team should be accountable to board, executive and senior management. The team should be supported by cross-functional teams. It is important to develop the CSR decisionmaking structure to facilitate internal and external verification.

Assigning CSR responsibilities to board members ensures that CSR issues will receive the attention they deserve, and as a result form a strong and effective chain of developing ethical business within the organisation. There are several options for board participation’s participation in CSR activities.

For instance, a board member could be tasked with broad responsibility for CSR activities; a new member who has specific CSR expertise could be appointed; CSR responsibilities could be added to the work of existing board committees; a new CSR board committee could be formed; or the entire board could be involved in CSR decisions.

Prepare and Implement CSR Business Plan

The CSR business plan may be separately described or included as part of the company’s existing overall business plan. With the strategy, commitments, and decision-making structures in place, the CSR business plan helps to ensure that the words are transformed into effective action. An excellent way of doing this is to determine what human, financial and other resources and activities will be required to carry out the CSR strategy and commitments.

Example: A CSR commitment may be that the organisation will not offer improper payments to officials.

  • The first step to implement this commitment might be to create a training course on the distinction between proper and improper payments, with an online version that includes frequently asked questions.

  • A second step might be to review the organisation’s incentive and disincentive structure (e.g. commissions) and to ensure it does not indirectly encourage improper behaviour. A third step might be to involve setting up a hotline, while a fourth one could be creating whistle-blower protection measures.

In the CSR business plan, each of these tasks could be further broken down into smaller components, with time lines and resource requirements for each. These obligations should be built into the job description and performance objectives of each lead person.

Set Measurable Targets and Identify Performance Measures

To ensure effective implementation, the organisation needs to set measurable targets for the commitments. In essence, these targets are guideposts to reach the ultimate goal of developing sustainability. When achieved, targets may also be a source of celebration in their own right. In this sense, they can help build CSR momentum in the organisation.

A widely used approach to measuring success is to identify the objectives underlying a CSR commitment, develop key performance indicators, work out the measurement method and then measure the results. Regardless of the exact approach taken, it should follow the SMART guidelines for developing its objectives: Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Reliable and Time-bound.

Example: Aviva in its 2012 CSR Report highlights that in 2012, their total CO2 emissions decreased by 12 per cent with all businesses reporting consistently on their footprint and applying practices to reduce their emissions. They have achieved this by using technologies, changing behaviours, and by purchasing zero-emission and renewable electricity. Aviva anticipates that their CO2 emissions will further reduce to 5 per cent in 2013 through their divestment of AutoWindscreens and by reducing business travel.

Engage Employees and Others to Whom Csr Commitments Apply

The input of employees and other key stakeholders has been solicited at every stage, from preliminary assessment, through strategy development and articulation of commitments. Employees play a central role in CSR implementation.

While overall CSR success depends first on senior leadership, ultimately, CSR implementation largely rests in the hands of employees and, in some cases, suppliers. In a sense, these parties are often the organisation’s human face capable of acting as ambassadors, advocates and sources of new ideas and information on CSR.

On the other hand, if not properly engaged, employees and suppliers could be a source of problems. Therefore, it is important to facilitate good communication between top management and employees, employee representatives and suppliers about CSR strategy, commitment and implementation.

Involving employees, employee representatives and suppliers in discussions of how CSR commitments are implemented is a way for these stakeholders to develop a sense of ownership and pride in the organisation’s CSR activities. To the extent possible, bringing in a CSR champion for senior management or from the board of directors will help in conveying the importance with which the organisation treats the issue.

Employee support for CSR implementation can be maintained in a number of ways:

  • Incorporating CSR performance elements into job descriptions and performance evaluations.

  • Providing regular updates on progress (in meetings or the company newsletter)

  • Developing incentives (such as rewards for best suggestions)

Design and Conduct CSR Training

Organisations need to train employees directly involved in CSR activities. As CSR is an ongoing commitment, training needs will change over a period of time.

When the organisation’s employees speak various languages, training modules must be offered in those languages and must consider the employees’ cultural orientation. This is particularly essential while training employees in various parts of the world. Literacy levels may also need to be assessed.

Comprehensive CSR training at Bata

Bata, the global footwear giant has set a goal of becoming a zero waste manufacturing company, eliminating all waste to landfill. One of the ways of reducing waste is to prevent its generation in the first place, through improved production techniques.

Much of their production involves injection moulding where plastic pellets are fed to a moulding machine where they are heated and shaped. By modifying these machines to pre-heat the pellets before they enter the machine, the manufacturing personnel have been able to increase productivity in their factories by about 15% and significantly reduce energy consumption.

Above all, the main benefit has been an increase in quality, which means less rejects and less waste. Bata Shoe Organisation has designed a comprehensive employee-training program for this purpose.
Comprehensive CSR Training at Bata

Establish Mechanisms for Addressing Problematic Behaviour

It is important for organisations to put in place mechanisms and processes that will allow for early detection, reporting and resolution of problematic CSR activity. Organisations should devise approaches that are sensitive to the vulnerable position of employees who see wrongdoing or the potential for non-compliance.

In addition to clear communications on the consequences of reporting breaches of CSR commitments, organisations could consider designing hotlines, and suggestion boxes and appointing ombudspersons. Care must be taken to ensure that the mechanisms for dealing with the problems are designed well. A senior manager should be assigned responsibility for investigating and reporting compliance on these issues.

Create Internal and External Communication Plan

Employees must know that CSR is a company priority. Information about CSR commitments, activities and performance reporting must be communicated visibly and frequently to all employees.

Information can be percolated through newsletters, annual reports, intranet communication, meetings, training or informal mechanisms. Updates on CSR should also be put on the agenda of meetings at all levels of the company.

For external audiences, a good communication plan is important. It should identify the individuals and groups that need to be aware of a particular CSR initiative and those who should receive hard copies of CSR documents. Website design can help to ensure that parties can easily access CSR information of interest to them. It is quite possible that communications will have to be tailored for various audiences. Example: Communications to investors are likely to be quite different from those addressed to communities.

Areas of CSR Implementation

CSR can be implemented at the workplace, at the marketplace for environmental protection, and also for communities. Most of the above CSR functional interventions are not industry specific.

The table contains a summary of functional CSR interventions that can be implemented by any company.

Business Ethics1. Corporate mission, vision and values
2. Evaluation and monitoring of ethics in the company
3. Ethics training and hotlines for employees
4. Cyber-ethics
5. Consideration of ethical dimensions of strategic decisions
Structure and
1. Stakeholder engagement
2. Executive and Board selection
3. Executive and Board compensation
4. Education and training for employees
1. Health and other insurance benefits
2. Employee recognition and rewards
3. Equal opportunity, diversity, diversity training, and religious freedom
4. Work/life balance and wellness programs
5. Employee compensation for downsizing, plant closing and reengineering measures
6. Volunteering in local communities
7. Health and safety on the job
Labour and
Human Rights
1. Engagement with unions and adherence to union standards
2. Codes of conduct that set standards for a company or the entire industry on labour treatment
3. Responsible supply chain management: ensuring that suppliers adhere to the company’s code of conduct
4. Product design and development
1. Environmental supply chain management
2. Consumption reduction
3. Natural resource stewardship
4. Alternative energy
5. Clean technology innovation
6. Green real estate development and
ecological building design
7 Product and packaging design
8. End-of-life-cycle product stewardship
9. Philanthropy and sponsorships
and Economic
1. Operation in underserved communities
2. Use of local supplier’s community
3. Education, healthcare and housing
programs for employees and communities
4. Legal and regulatory compliance
Accountability1. Adherence to Code of Conduct and
other standards, including inspections,
training inspectors or hiring of third-party
2. Social and environmental auditing and
3. Certification of raw materials
Functional Intervention

Business Ethics

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Lean Six Sigma

Research Methodology


Operations Research

Operation Management

Service Operations Management

Procurement Management

Strategic Management

Supply Chain

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