The basis for developing a CSR strategy is provided by the Competency Framework of the CSR Academy (2006), which is made up of six characteristics:
- Understanding society – understanding how the business operates in the broader context and knowing the social and environmental impacts that the business has on society.
- Building capacity – building the capacity of others to help manage the business effectively. For example, suppliers understand the
business’s approach to the environment and employees can apply social and environmental concerns in their day-to-day roles.
- Questioning business as usual – individuals continually questioning the business in relation to a more sustainable future and being open to improving the quality of life and the environment.
- Stakeholder relations – understanding who the key stakeholders are and the risks and opportunities they present. Working with them
through consultation and taking their views into account.
- Strategic view – ensuring that social and environmental views are included in the business strategy, such that they are integral to the
way the business operates.
- Harnessing diversity – respecting the fact that people are different, which is reflected in fair and transparent business practices.
To develop and implement a CSR strategy based on these principles it is necessary to:
- understand the business and social environment in which the firm operates;
- understand the business and HR strategies and how the CSR strategy should be aligned to them;
- know who the stakeholders are (including top management) and find out their views and expectations on CSR;
- identify the areas in which CSR activities might take place by reference to their relevance in the business context of the organization and an evaluation of their significance to stakeholders;
- prioritize as necessary on the basis of an assessment of the relevance and significance of CSR to the organization and its stakeholders and the practicalities of introducing the activity or practice;
- draw up the strategy and make the case for it to top management and the stakeholders;
- obtain approval for the CSR strategy from top management and key stakeholders;
- communicate information on the whys and wherefores of the strategy comprehensively and regularly;
- provide training to employees on the skills they need to use in implementing the CSR strategy;
- measure and evaluate the effectiveness of CSR.