2022 has just begun and like every new year, it’s interesting to take stock of how we do business and make new sustainable resolutions! So why not take the opportunity to get started on a sustainable transition? In this article we explain why we need to urgently change our ways and how to make it happen!
Why a CSR program ?
A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach helps companies meet regulatory demands for transparency and better respond to the performance challenges they face by managing risks and seizing opportunities.
In addition to being a tool for transparency and protection, a CSR approach contributes to improving a whole array of operations within a company. These include:
- Reducing cost and risk
- Attracting talent and retaining employees
- Creating a company culture
- Attracting new consumers
- Improving image and reputation
- Encouraging innovation
- Addressing future challenges with proactive leadership
- Building resilience in operational systems
- Attracting responsible investors
The list of benefits goes on and on. These advantages are all hugely relevant and can only encourage you in your sustainable transition. So how should you go about it? Whether you already have a CSR strategy in place and want to strengthen it, or you’ve not yet started the process, we offer some food for thought to help you take the next step.
How do you introduce a CSR approach in your company?
Start with a review
No matter how far you are in the sustainable transition, it’s always important to review and take stock. A review lets you take a step back and not only see how far you’ve come, but also what’s still left to do. Do this by bringing together the heads of your different departments to brainstorm ideas.
Your company culture
During your brainstorming session, ask yourself what culture you want your company to have. What type of company do you want your employees to work for? A CSR strategy is intrinsically linked to a company’s culture and the values that a company wishes to convey. Once done, you’ll have a better overview of the path you want to follow.
A reference framework
CSR includes several facets to take into consideration. There’s the social aspect, the environment and governance to name just three, plus these themselves group together other subconcepts. So it can sometimes be difficult to find your way around and know where to start. That’s why a reference framework is important. It enables your company to take stock of existing practices and create a roadmap for the future.
There are several reference frameworks out there and each has its own specific features. The most important thing in choosing one is that it makes sense to you and aligns with your company’s commitment. Among those available, we can mention the ones we work with ourselves: B Corp’s Business Impact Assessment (BIA), the Luxembourg ESR Label guidelines and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
How do you integrate the different aspects of a CSR strategy?
As mentioned above, there are several aspects to a CSR strategy. These need to be measured, planned and implemented. So how do you go about it and where do you start?
This is a broad area and a variety of actions are possible. The most important thing to start with is to measure your company’s carbon footprint. With the help of a specialist, you’ll be able to see the environmental impact that your activity creates, and then set reduction targets and implement actions over a given period.
Your purchasing policy
Your overall impact also includes the impact created by your suppliers. This is more commonly known as Scope 3. And this is why it’s important to create a list of sustainable criteria for choosing your business partners, what’s called a responsible purchasing policy.
It can also touch upon several other areas of sustainable development depending on how you analyse your suppliers. By analysing your suppliers’ waste management, you can take the environment into account. By taking a close look at their practices (especially in terms of human rights), you cover the social dimension. You can also bring the two aspects together and thus ensure that your values are aligned with those of your partners. This alignment is important for protecting your business against risks associated with your partners’ activities.
The social aspect of CSR is also packed full of important topics, with charity often being the most obvious. Your company may decide to focus on donating, for example. Gather your employees and discuss the company’s values… Together you’ll find a cause that makes sense for your business, or your employees may have a cause close to their hearts and you can give them the opportunity to choose. The important thing is for your donation to make sense.
By now, we’ve all heard about sustainable development to some extent or another. If you want to embark on the sustainable transition, it’s crucial to ensure that all your employees are on the same page in their understanding of the concept and to include them in your transition. To this end, awareness-raising workshops on sustainable development and related topics are a good place to start.
Employee well-being is of course an integral part of a CSR strategy. Being socially responsible means taking an interest in the well-being of your stakeholders, and employees are at the top of that list. Several opportunities are available to a company. One important topic is compliance with the law on social and human rights and going above and beyond what the law requires. Another increasingly important topic is diversity and inclusion. Start by learning about these issues and using the reference frameworks mentioned above. Take your transition step by step.
So there you have it, a set of practices to help you get started on the road to sustainability. We hope this article will help you see more clearly and decide to take the plunge.
If you’d like to know more and discuss your sustainability journey in person, please contact us, we’d love to help!