Corporate Social Responsibility: Expectations vs. Reality:

Like any other business endeavor, companies that set out to either establish or expand their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program have a number of common expectations. Having interviewed dozens of companies, though, it seems that the reality is often drastically different than these expectations. Here are some common misconceptions that we have learned from past guests on Taking Care in Business.

  1. CSR is only for big companies. WRONG! While CSR programs have been the purvey of larger companies in the past, some of the most innovative, and frankly, successful programs have been by start-ups and smaller companies. Smaller companies are often more nimble in developing CSR programs—they don’t have to run it by layers of people and administration, they can just do it! Also, smaller companies generally have smaller budgets and let’s face it this can often lead to highly “creative” solutions which leads me to number 2.
  2. It’s expensive. WRONG! There is a common misperception that CSR programs are expensive! They aren’t. In many instances, integrating CSR programming is merely putting more intention around things you are currently doing. For instance, do you want to help improve the local economy? How about developing a list of local vendors who can help support your business needs? How about developing a policy to emphasize preference to local vendors when all other factors in a purchasing decision are equal? CSR programming CAN be expensive but it doesn’t need to be.
  3. A CSR program will take a lot of time to administer. WRONG! Here’s the thing about CSR, there is no specific “program” or rules to follow. A customized CSR program can be as simple or as complex as you like. CSR programming does and should intersect with other operational areas—meaning, your CSR program doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It might contain elements of workplace relations and, guess what you are already “administering” an HR program. To be highly effective, CSR programming should leverage the activities you are already doing. It does provide a framework of intention that you can use to improve.Everyone has to start somewhere. What are you waiting for?