Guide

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a broad business concept. It usually describes a company's commitment to carry out their business in an ethical way.

This means managing their business processes while taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact, and considering human rights.

Examples of corporate social responsibility

Corporate responsibility can cut across almost everything your business does. It can involve a range of CSR activities, such as:

  • environmental management, eg waste reduction and sustainability
  • responsible sourcing, eg using only fair trade ingredients
  • improvement of working standards and conditions
  • contributing to educational and social programmes
  • employee volunteering
  • socially responsible investment
  • development of employee and community relations

CSR and stakeholders

Your stakeholders are the individuals or groups that have an interest in your business and that are influenced by your actions. Different CSR strategies can help you make a positive impact on different groups of stakeholders, including:

  • Consumers - eg through fair and open business practices and good customer relations. See how to manage your customer service.
  • Suppliers - eg by choosing your suppliers carefully, looking at their labour, health, safety, and environmental practices. See more on ethical trading.
  • Communities - there are many ways to create positive change in the community, eg sponsoring local events, taking part in charity initiatives, volunteering, etc. See corporate social responsibility: local community.
  • Employees - responsible business practices will often aim to do more than simply comply with the law. See staff motivation and performance.

Reducing your environmental impact through different CSR initiatives, such as waste and resource management, can also greatly benefit your business. Read more on corporate social responsibility: environmental impact.

Importance of corporate social responsibility

CSR can help you improve your business performance, increase competitive advantage and build trust with customers and employees. It can also help you achieve operational cost savings, by avoiding costs of wasted energy or unnecessary fees.

Perhaps most importantly, CSR gives your company and your brand a positive image of a reputable ethical business. See more on business benefits of corporate social responsibility.