While there is no one size-fits-all approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR), the right programme is one that is aligned with the organisation’s structure, vision and values.
Here are five winning strategies that will positively impact the company and integrate CSR efforts into an executable framework:
Integrate sustainability in the company’s business model
One of the most challenging decisions any organisation faces is how to effectively incorporate a CSR framework into its business model and corporate strategy, while staying profitable and competitive.
The key is to understand your organisation well enough to integrate this commitment seamlessly into its operations and day-to-day running for a sustainable business model and bottom line.
At De Dietrich, a premium kitchen appliance brand, this includes ensuring that environmental considerations are integrated with the conception of each new product.
The appliances are produced using the Eco-Design method in France and Europe, with parts that are at least 95 per cent recyclable. Other sustainability initiatives include efficient usage of resources and minimal energy wastage in production processes.
Engage and involve employees
Employees are invaluable to successful implementation as the internal stakeholders. Taking the time to help them understand the value and purpose of CSR practices will go a long way in motivating them to advocate the cause.
For example, De Dietrich’s staff, chefs and retail partners contributed to environmental conservation by involving themselves in the company’s Plant-A-Tree partnership with the Singapore Garden City Fund, an initiative founded by the Singapore Environmental Council to encourage public awareness of the environment.
It is important to engage employees in CSR policy discussions early on, gather feedback and create enthusiasm for the company’s current initiatives. Invest resources in CSR training courses to equip employees with the knowledge and skills to effectively contribute to the company’s CSR practices and future plans.
Set measurable targets and track results
Evaluate the real impact of the company’s CSR programme by setting measurable environmental, social and economic targets. In line with the objectives, develop key performance indicators and work out the method for measuring results.
A common approach to set goals is the “SMART” guideline to setting goals (specific, measurable, achievable, reliable and time-sensitive), while accreditation and environmental reporting benchmarks are useful measures of tracking progress.
It is also important to consistently review current programmes, learn from best practices across industries and fine-tune for better results.
Adopt a long-term view
A longer-term horizon of the company’s initial investment will enable one to see the tangible financial benefits and intangible social ones. Companies who have been successful in their CSR efforts incorporate environmental and social issues at the heart of their operations and profits.
For example, De Dietrich expressed its commitment to environmental stewardship by joining the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers in 2005. This charter sees members drawing up a voluntary code of conduct that deals with issues as such respect for the environment, social responsibility and optimisation of working conditions.
Showcase commitment with regular updates
A company’s top executives and senior management should take the lead in implementing CSR policies as a show of support and solidarity. Dovetailing with these responsible business practices, it is important for the company to communicate regular and timely updates on CSR progress to its stakeholders, and explain how these initiatives result in a positive impact.
It is also important to communicate this ethical commitment to the public. As part of De Dietrich’s continued journey towards being an environmentally supportive business, it joined hands with Asia-Pacific Enterprise Cooperation in support of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
It also supports the sustainable food movement and is committed to social advocacy. It has organised events such as the Celebrity Chefs Charity Cookathon in aid of The Little Arts Academy, a children-focused advocacy group for the creative arts.
Article by Serene Kwok, deputy director of sales and marketing for De Dietrich, a French premium kitchen appliance brand. For more information, visit www.dedietrich.com.sg