Corporate social responsibility? That’s just about reducing our carbon footprint and donating to charity, right?

Wrong.

While taking steps to reduce your organisation’s environmental impact is an important part of corporate social responsibility (CSR), it actually covers a far broader landscape.

CSR is a set of guidelines for how an organisation operates, in order to support, rather than damage, the environment. And that doesn’t just mean the physical environment, it also means the economic, social and ethical environments.

In a nutshell, I think of CSR as going above and beyond legislation to do the right thing and positively impact the world.

It considers how an organisation treats its employees and customers, how well it supports its local community, how fairly it does business with suppliers, how effectively it embraces its environmental responsibilities and much more. And while this might all sound very… expensive… embracing CSR can pay great dividends. Studies show a positive correlation between CSR investments and long-term organisational profitability through greater customer loyalty, boosted employee productivity, increased innovation and reduced costs.

Additionally, investing in a solid CSR program can significantly engage and connect employees in many other meaningful ways, such as:

  • Sense of purpose: Employees feel that they are part of an organisation that prioritises more than just profits. This sense of contributing to something greater than themselves can enhance their job satisfaction and motivation.
  • Employee skills development: Employees can learn valuable skills such as project management, leadership and communication.
  • Positive workplace culture: Creating an environment where people care about each other and the world around them has positive ripple effects to workplace culture. 
  • Talent attraction and employer brand: A solid CSR program enhances the company's reputation as an employer of choice.
  • Recognition programs: CSR programs can include recognition for employees who contribute significantly to social responsibility initiatives, again boosting morale and engagement.

As the APAC CSR Correspondent, I'm incredibly excited about the work we're doing to develop our CSR initiatives and programs. CSR and Social Value are at the heart of Reward Gateway's core values as a business. I love being part of our CSR community and representing the APAC region, as we have a fantastic opportunity to create a positive impact beyond profitability.

For me, embracing our Corporate Social Responsibility demonstrates a real commitment to making a meaningful difference in the world while remaining true to Reward Gateway and Edenred's mission.

So, let's dive into what CSR entails and its four pillars – environmental, ethical, economic and philanthropic. Below, I've explored each pillar in a little more detail.

Environmental responsibilities

environment-ready-changeThe first pillar of CSR is environmental responsibility, which focuses on an organisation taking proactive steps to regulate its energy consumption and offset any negative environmental impact.

Actions speak louder than words, and organisations can make a real difference with these three steps:

  • Reduce harmful practices - by reducing waste, removing the use of single-use plastics, cutting water consumption, minimising unnecessary business travel and decreasing pollution.
  • Regulate energy consumption - by sourcing sustainable or recycled materials, increasing the use of renewable energy and switching to more sustainable suppliers.
  • Offset negative environmental impacts - by funding research, donating to environmental causes, planting trees and supporting renewable energy installations.

It’s important to remember that your environmental responsibilities span further than what happens within the four walls of your organisation. Think about your entire supply chain – are you confident that all of your suppliers and manufacturers are upholding the same environmental standards?

Think also about your employees: Are you helping them to make environmentally friendly choices about their commute to work? Things like cycle-to-work or car-share programs and public transport discounts are all awesome.

You need to have a solid environmental strategy in place, but I genuinely believe that the little things can have the biggest impact!

Ethical responsibilities

Part of CSR is your ethical responsibility – to operate fairly and do what's right, consciously avoiding doing harm.The next pillar is about making sure your organisation operates fairly and ethically by doing what’s right and consciously avoiding any harm.

This means the way your organisation treats all of its internal and external stakeholders, including employees, leaders, customers, investors and suppliers.

Are your internal policies and procedures consistent with your values? Think about things like the quality of your parental leave policies and benefits, the rates you pay suppliers, your level of commitment to providing a ‘liveable wage’ and the training you provide to leaders about how you expect them to manage their direct reports. Again, organisations also need to take a good look at their supply chains to ensure they are purchasing from suppliers that aren’t involved in anything illegal or unethical.

Fulfilling your ethical responsibilities is much broader than corporate governance, encompassing things like employee mental wellbeing support and the quality and helpfulness of the benefits packages you offer. 

Economic responsibilities

Economic responsibilities under CSR broaden financial responsibility to ensure economic sustainability.An organisation’s economic responsibilities are far greater than avoiding debt and maximising profits. While operating responsibly and profitably to ensure economic sustainability always needs to be a priority, this pillar is about making financial decisions based on a broader commitment to do the right thing.

On top of avoiding unnecessary debt, paying suppliers promptly and charging a fair price for products or services, an organisation’s economic responsibilities include benchmarking employee salaries against the broader market and making fair, green and ethical investments.

According to our latest research, Australian employees chose financial wellbeing as the area that employers should prioritise the most in 2024 with 48% of respondents choosing this option. Many employers believe that cost of living increases are negatively impacting their employees, and I see it as both an ethical and economic responsibility to support the financial wellbeing of your employees.

 

Philanthropic responsibilities

Philanthropic responsibilities mean supporting local businesses and facilitating employee volunteer activities.Last, but by no means least, the final pillar is philanthropic responsibilities. These are perhaps the first things that come to mind when you hear someone say ‘CSR’... like supporting local communities, charitable giving and enabling employees to take volunteering days.

You should think about your philanthropic responsibilities as the actions you take as an organisation to actively better society as a whole.

It’s all about what you do to be a good corporate citizen, often involving dedicating a portion of earnings to external causes. Some organisations even go so far as to set up a charitable trust or partnership. I always feel these kinds of programs are most impactful when an organisation and its employees are genuinely passionate about the causes being supported. So it can be helpful to give your employees the opportunity to get directly involved by exchanging rewards for charitable donations or participating in volunteering programs.

And don’t forget, in addition to helping improve society, embracing your philanthropic responsibilities presents a great opportunity to build employee pride, boost engagement and enhance your employer brand.  


Learn about how Reward Gateway can help you make your organisation a better place to work by scheduling a call with one of our friendly employee engagement experts.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Dawn Saxby-Willis

Dawn is a Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Reward Gateway with more than 18 years of experience within the strategic sourcing and talent space. When she's not scoping out the next great fit for RG, she's likely to be exploring new parts of the world. Recently, her journey brought her to Australia from our London office, and she loves the opportunity to connect with new people and places, continually enriching her understanding and appreciation of the world around her.

APAC Senior Talent Acquisition Partner & CSR Correspondent

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