2020 the year of HCSR - Honest Corporate Social Responsibility

20 December 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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While the powerful descend on Switzerland for the Davos Summit in January 2020, determined to show their new concern for climate change, the likelihood is that they’ll then fly back home on their private jets demonstrating how CSR credentials are hard to earn, but even easier to tarnish. 

We can all point to a business that claims that the principles of diversity and inclusion are integral to everything they do – while their C-suite is populated entirely with white, middle-class men. Or the firm that brags about its concern for the rainforest, press releasing its commitment to planting hundreds of trees in Brazil, whilst conducting all its operations on paper. Not to mention the company that espouses support for various charitable initiatives whilst failing to offer volunteering leave for its staff.

In this context perhaps it is not surprising that according to a World Value Index survey, only 14 percent of employees say their values are well-aligned with the companies for which they work and – when it comes to CSR – nearly a third think that corporations only support specific to causes to makes themselves look good or accrue tax benefits. 

2020 the year of HCSR - Honest Corporate Social Responsibility

Adding the honesty factor to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is so important. It means neutralising criticism whilst winning hearts and minds by stating up front: “We're doing our best, but we've got a long way to go.” Ultimately, businesses have to make money – otherwise they won't survive so it's best to admit that whilst also demonstrating a commitment to doing so as ethically as possible. Transparency is vital and there should be clear and regular reporting both internally and externally to make sure every member of the workforce feels heard. 

People must be at the heart of any corporate responsibility approach. Rather than aiming too high, companies should look at fostering employee engagement – offering incentive programmes that successfully integrate corporate values and leverage CSR as an employee reward. This could include facilitating the desire of particular individuals who want to carry out charity work over charitable giving. 

After all, so many charities have been exposed as mis-using funds in recent years – exhibiting the very opposite of this “honest” aesthetic. If management is able to integrate HCSR into their staff recognition schemes then the business rewards could be not only endearing but profound too. 

‘Doing good’ is becoming increasingly important when it comes to achieving business success. Research from Sodexo Engageshows that 87% of employees believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance and 64% would not take a job if a potential employer did not take CSR seriously. Ultimately, focusing on that simple word “honesty” will pay dividends – it's important for us all to realise that though a great leap forward may be the dream, in reality progress is implemented step by step.

An article by Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, an employee and consumer engagement agency.