Companies today are spending millions of dollars on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to not only leverage on CSR to build a strong brand, but also to create or enhance a reputation of being responsible corporate citizens. This is based on the premise that giving back to the community addresses social and environmental concerns and also creates brand visibility and public goodwill. These anticipated results are however not always forthcoming. Companies are receiving a lot of backlash not only from shareholders who do not always see the value of these initiatives but also from rights groups and the very communities who are the intended beneficiaries of CSR projects, who accuse them of reneging on their promises. How then does today’s CSR manager navigate and ensure that CSR initiatives receive the necessary support and have an impact?
A company’s CSR strategy must be anchored on the overall business strategy and entrenched in its values, mission and vision. It must also be integrated with the brand strategy to ensure that its objectives are aligned to what the brand promises and is known for. The strategy must also provide avenues for staff engagement, community participation and reflect responsible business practices and corporate governance commitments. Once this is done, the CSR elements should be communicated to all stakeholders and shareholders.
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