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Corporate Social Responsibility – How To Make It More Strategic

Even though formal CSR tools have been around for years, there is growing attention to Corporate Social Responsibility - not as a simple act of allocating funds for philanthropy but as a an approach to running the business. Recent EU recommendations (ISO 26000) and an EU Directive for Non-Financial Reporting provide the framework for how this can be achieved. Add to this the UN's delineation of sustainable goals, and the institutional context gains considerable substance.

Beyond compliance with these directives, some of the discussions I have been involved in recently, have revolved around the issue of how to make CSR efforts more strategic. Of course, nobody will argue that making something “more strategic” is not desirable, yet little clarity is offered when you query what that really means.

So, here is my take on this: It is true that CSR efforts in many companies often lack strategic intent – that is, they are not driven by well-articulated objectives and they routinely neglect the connection between those objectives and:

-internal capabilities

-the resource allocation process.

In short, CSR needs to be placed in the context of what we want to achieve and how we plan to get there. In doing so, it needs to be supported by internal capabilities and resources. That is how we can make it more strategic. Of course, this logic (let's call it a "strategic stress test") applies to any company-wide initiatives, not just CSR.

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