CSR, short for Corporate Social Responsibility, is a term that is often bandied about and used to greenwash statements from annual general meetings and satisfy bare minimum public relations requirements, but otherwise not taken all that seriously. Some CSR steps are more meaningful than others, however, and can set your business apart as a genuine agent for change.
If you are intent on achieving meaningful philosophical change without your company, below are some of the most impactful CSR steps you can take.
Businesses and banks go hand in hand. Commercial banking is often one of the most important facets of a bank’s business, and their corporate clients command a lot of attention and reverence. Banks and financial institutions are, in many ways, responsible for the perpetuation of some of the most destructive economic paradigms humanity currently lives with and within, including fossil fuel and others.
Because of this, one of the most meaningful CSR moves a company can make is to be more selective when it comes to who they bank with. The money you, as a business, keep at a bank is the money these institutions use to make investments and turn profits, so searching for banks that engage in ethical banking practices is a good way to maximize your impact.
Minimize Ecological Footprints
If you have ever used the World Wildlife Fund’s ecological footprint calculator, you are probably sheepishly aware and perhaps dismayed at how many earths it would require if everyone on the planet were consuming at your level. This is the paradigm within which you are, to a large extent, trapped, but there are things business owners can do to help reduce this impact.
Businesses choose to go green all the time, and there are often powerful tax breaks and incentives in place for those that do. Replacing dirty sources of energy with clean ones, providing your employees with subsidies for cleaner forms of transportation, investments in green infrastructure in your office space and many other initiatives can make a meaningful positive impact on your footprint.
Elevate BIPOC Workers
Your CSR initiatives don’t have to be explicitly “green” in order to qualify as social responsibility and you don’t need to necessarily look outside your own company for options and answers. If you employ BIPOC people at your organization, you can be an ally and spur social change through the elevation of historically marginalized people into positions of prominence and responsibility. Mentorship programs for BIPOC employees as well as the revamping of recruitment and career development processes within the company, that take social realities into consideration, are additional meaningful CSR initiatives.
Have a Philanthropic Mission
Most businesses engage in some form or another of philanthropy, but it is often very unstructured, unstrategic and formulaic. If you want to maximize your business’ philanthropic impact, it is always better to have a particular cause or mission and to make philanthropic donations according to these. Flitting from cause to cause is not nearly as effective as choosing one thing that owners and employees are passionate about and pursuing that. Doing everything is impossible, but you can do one or two things in earnest.
CSR is one thing; meaningful CSR is another. More and more consumers, and society in general, expects companies to take CSR seriously. The idea that a business is beholden to its shareholders and therefore its bottom line above and before all else is no longer a sacrosanct economic and social principle. Consumers are increasingly speaking with their wallets and businesses have a lot to gain, both philosophically and commercially, by listening and taking action.
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