Jul 31, 2023
CRS activities are a powerful tool for businesses to play their part in making a positive impact. But not all CSR initiatives are the same.
Through CSR activities, a business commits to play a positive role in the community and contribute to solving social and environmental challenges. It’s a way for businesses to be part of the solution and play a role in making a positive impact.
However, if CSR aims at truly benefitting society, it cannot be thought of as a marketing tool, as a strategy to increase profit, or as a “window” to showcase the business. For CSR to be successful, agendas must integrate ethical frameworks into market strategies.
The profit-based mentality that looks at the short-term for results negatively affects the sustainability of companies and the broader economic and social system. Replacing this focus with a commitment to longer-term planning and sustainability is a major challenge that businesses need to take on. Short-term CSR strategies are often prevalent and preferred, however painting a wall and cleaning a beach – for as much as these actions are useful per se – are not sufficient to spark permanent change.
Short-term CSR is utterly incapable of addressing issues such as the climate crisis, poverty, and economic inequality. Addressing these issues in any meaningful way requires a long-term commitment and long-term strategies.
However, this exact short-term approach is the preferred one among some corporations, using CSR as a PR tactic to earn positive media coverage without making a difference.
A serious corporate pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example, is impossible under the short-term mindset, without making any long-lasting changes in the mentality, methodology and behaviour.
Moreover, as the actions of businesses affect a broad range of stakeholders – including employees, NGOs, and the local community – representatives of these groups should be consulted and involved in the design of CSR programs. Management-designed CSR is likely to be viewed with scepticism by many – employees included – who might doubt the sincerity of the initiatives.
The specific resources a company can apply to CSR and the needs of stakeholders involved vary greatly from company to company, from context of action to context. Therefore, for a firm to develop its own successful CSR program, the business must be taking into consideration what specific area/s it wants to tackle, who are the stakeholders involved and what resources can be put to use.
It is not the amount of money spent on CSR that counts; it is the effect that the CSR activities have on society.
CSR is also dynamic, it changes in response to changing environment, government regulations, resources at disposal etc.
Thus, a generic, one-time CSR risks being pointless. The type of CSR that is most effective for a business is a CSR that makes use of the particular assets and competencies that the business possesses and that fits the issues and dynamics of the environment where it is based.