Tips for building and improving your CSR program

Australia has witnessed a dramatic rise in Corporate Social Responsibility reporting with approximately 83 per cent of the top 100 companies in Australia (by revenue) now reporting on CSR. So how can you build and improve on what you already have?

Be honest - can you do this?

Building any CSR program should always begin with an evaluation of your company culture. Hannah Rose, National CSR Manager at Sparke Helmore Lawyers, notes the importance of knowing your own business—what it does, what it values and the various needs and desires of its key stakeholders.

Hannah says truly understanding your company values “will help you shape an approach to socially responsible business practices that is in line with the needs of your business and engaging for your staff.”

Part of this evaluation involves being honest about the type of giving you can afford. What does your business have to offer to causes? Time? Money? Resources? Skills?

Setting your path should be a key element of your CSR strategy.

An internal approach

Building upon your CSR program means going ‘beyond’ external giving programs and taking more of an ‘in-house’ approach. Talk to your staff, conduct focus groups and internal surveys to determine issues that might be of personal relevance to them, or hone in on facets of the workplace culture that could be aided by an internal CSR program. For example, Hannah speaks about the strength of Sparke Helmore’s Diversity Program, including the Six Degrees women's network that aims to encourage, motivate, and support Sparke Helmore's women and women in their client community.

The Diversity Program is a great example of how a CSR program should extend to every facet of the business and its stakeholders. Hannah notes that developing and participating in the right activities for Sparke Helmore is “critical to creating the desired culture within our firm, increasing staff engagement, morale and productivity, and helping us to attract high-performing individuals to our firm,” showcasing how a strong CSR program can add value to a business.

Keeping things fresh: Collaboration

“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt over the years is the importance of collaboration for a successful CSR program,” says Hannah. Cross-party collaboration is key to creating shared goals and objectives as well as expanding your CSR program.

Hannah suggests that internal support from all areas of your business is just as important as collaborating with external parties such as charities. Sharing ideas from different perspectives leads to a more developed, informed strategy, as per the saying, two heads (or more!) are always better than one. Collaborating with causes and staff also ensures your CSR program will meet the needs of these stakeholders.

Storytelling

Having a functional and effective CSR program is great, but growing and developing it should be a prime goal for businesses who want to make waves in the social impact space.

“Benojo will help us to measure the social impact of our investments,” says Hannah, “and share our good news stories with external stakeholders.” The key to storytelling and expansion is measurement. Ask the big question: Has your CSR program been effective?

Measurement is premised on the development of a common language and shared measuring tools that allow all parties to evaluate impact. Through this evaluation, impact can be shared in the form of storytelling. Benojo founder, Martyn Ryan, believes people are motivated by seeing other people take action and positive outcomes.

With 67% of Millennials preferring to work for socially responsible companies, sharing your story is imperative to attract the right kind of talent.


Contact Benojo here for advice on how we can help build your CSR strategy.


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