CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is a societal challenge that companies should consider as a strategic issue, as it is a lever for growth. It can also be considered as a tool to prepare for the risks to which the company’s stakeholders could be exposed if they do not change their behaviour and ensure sustainability in the medium and long term.
We will come back to this notion of sustainability at the end of this article with Isabelle Albert, author of the book “Tech it Green. Digital transformation and ecological transition: building the 21st century’s double revolution”.
To begin with, what are we talking about?
CSR refers to the positive contribution of companies to the challenges of sustainable development through various initiatives: social, economic & environmental. The aim is therefore to give companies the opportunity to measure the social, economic and environmental impact of their activities, in order to identify the challenges and inherent limits.
THE SOCIAL PILLAR
This pillar aims to ensure social equity and employee welfare through these measures :
• Ensuring equal opportunities
• Fight against all forms of discrimination
• Ensuring full respect for labour law and human rights
• Implementing a QWL (Quality of Life at Work) approach
In terms of the company’s stakes, it ensures its image as a responsible employer brand, it increases employee loyalty and productivity.
On the other hand, thanks to its CSR activities, it can attract potential investors who will favour sustainable companies.
As a result, the company’s performance is assured and recruitment and turnover costs are low.
THE ECONOMIC PILLAR
This pillar takes into consideration all the stakeholders (internal and external) of the company in order to sustainably improve production and consumption models.
CSR allows us to be in a shared value approach which can be done through :
- The guarantee of good relations with suppliers, preferably local ones
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty through quality of service
- Transparency towards customers on production & manufacturing processes
- The dialogue with all its stakeholders to integrate them into its CSR approach
- Cost optimisation and clear information for investors
- Anticipation of social and economic risks.
Thus, CSR and economic performance go hand in hand, ensuring the company’s long-term sustainability. Standards such as ISO 26000 are awarded, to strength its brand image and to distinguish itself ethically from its competitors.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL PILLAR
This last pillar fights against any negative impact on the environment of the company. Preserving the environment, biological diversity and natural resources is more than a concern today, it is a necessity to ensure tomorrow’s needs.
Actions can be taken on a small and large scale in the company for a global well-being as :
- Adopting a process to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Designing products or services in an eco-responsible way
- Reducing energy consumption
- Implementing a deliverable on actions to preserve the environment and natural resources (waste sorting, use of printers, use of appliances etc.).
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These measures have a particular impact on the financial economy of the company and contribute to the achievement of strategic and financial objectives. For example, resource depletion and climate change (floods, droughts) can affect operations and compromise the sustainability of a company.
CSR therefore helps companies to act proactively and innovate on little-known eco-responsibility practices.
To go further with Isabelle ALBERT (COO Satgana Climate VC • Author “Tech it Green” • Board member • Speaker (TEDx) • Sustainability GreenTech expert)
“And if we go further than the “simple” question of CSR: it is urgent to take CSR out of its simple communicative role to integrate the challenges of sustainability at all levels of the company at the heart of its business model and with all its external and internal stakeholders
Integrating sustainable development allows employees to regain a sense of meaning in their daily activities and to mobilise them around sustainable projects within the company.
It is a real asset for an employer brand today in terms of recruitment attractiveness. There is a real demand today, like the climate murals.
The second challenge for organisations is to really integrate sustainability and climate change into the heart of their value proposition and business model. Beware, this is not about ‘greenwashing’, but about transforming their model: putting sustainability at the heart of the company’s activity and practices.
Sustainable development and the long-term viability of a company are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary: the management of material or energy flows can result in significant cost savings, for example. We must now go further and integrate climate risk (in terms of raw materials, supply chain, energy costs, location of establishments) into the management of companies. “Business as usual is no longer an option”: companies that anticipate will be able to make it a strength for tomorrow instead of undergoing the coming changes.