CSR and other Terms

CSR and other Terms

The term you use should resonate with your organization’s culture and structure. Some terms that are frequently used include:

  • Philanthropy– is when gifts of money or equivalent, are given without any expectation of receiving anything in return, beyond a “thank you”.
  • Corporate Citizenship – is a term often used to describe corporations’ commitment to, and interactions with, communities where they operate and/or where their employees are located.  The Center for Corporate Citizenship in Boston College’s Carroll School of Management publishes academic standard research reports and training for corporate citizenship practitioners.
  • Stakeholder Engagement – similar to corporate citizenship, but drills into consideration of individuals as well as groups and communities.

Is ESG the ‘new’ CSR?

When CSR Strategies started in 2002, few people understood what ‘CSR’ stood for.

CSR gradually gained awareness and interest and many adopted the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ to describe anything related to doing good work – often assigning a budget for charitable purposes (philanthropy/community investment) or for cause marketing purposes such as sponsoring a fundraiser and thereby promoting the business as being a good corporate citizen.

The acronym ‘CSR’ can mean Corporate Social Responsibility or Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility. And  to ‘CSR’ include: Corporate Responsibility (CR), Social Responsibility (SR), and Social Value (SV).

But for salespeople it can mean Customer Service Representative.  So, sustainability and (more recently) ESG (Environment-Social-Governance) are now more often used to drive the good works of purpose-driven enterprises.

Standards and Frameworks

In 2010, the International Standards Organization (ISO) launched ISO 26000, and after extensive debates with leading practitioners around the world, it dropped a letter so ‘CSR’ became Social Responsibility (‘SR’).

The ISO 26000 standard offers guidance for organizations wanting to assess and manage their social responsibilities. It is a standard, not a framework, and so does not measure impact.  To know more about ISO 26000, click here to download its information brochure.

Working with Purpose

We believe that more important than choosing an acronym or phrase, is to focus on purpose and action – including measuring the impact of our actions as, for us, ‘CSR’ means taking responsibility for the impact of our actions.  A truly responsible organization does much more than simply comply with regulations, which requires leadership, vision, and humanity.

So, no, we are not going to change our name – we are still CSR Strategies and we continue to provide consulting services, independent assessments, and training in the fundamentals of CSR, Sustainability, the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs), and ESG to help businesses and non-profits achieve purpose in their work.

CSR & ESG Assessments

Our CSR & ESG Continuum assessment tool is based on the intelligence behind ISO 26000, ISO 14001, Imagine Canada’s Standards Program, and the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standards

We compare good intentions and actions to industry standards and expectations and, if wanted, to the competition.

Our analysis report indicates gaps and what can be done to fill those gaps.

The many benefits of being Purpose-driven

Many benefits can be gained from integrating a purpose-driven strategy into your organization’s strategy. Some benefits are intangible and hard to describe except in reflection. An example is TRUST.

Other benefits:

  • Validated reporting– reports that are verified by a respected third party increases stakeholder TRUST.
  • Employee relations– we find companies that establish employee relations standards (including volunteer and grants programs) result in measurably more employees think positively about their employer.
  • Regulatory approvals– earning and keeping your social license to operate (SLO) reduces regulatory red tape and increases community acceptance.
  • Governance– good governance indicates a thriving organization – which is why governance is part of our ESG assessments.
  • Capital Markets – the World Federation of Exchanges and its 60 members (including NYSE, NASDAQ and TMX Group) are pushing standards that create transparency and fairness in capital markets.
  • Investment Reviews – conventional accounting reviews financial assets.  Savvy investors review both financial and non-financial assets (human, social, and natural resources) – often using an ESG framework and the United Nation’s six Principles for Responsible Investments (UNPRI), to assess the state of a business’ environmental, social, and governance standards and practices.

           Did you know – UNPRI signatories’ collective value was about US$60 trillion in 2017?

  • Risk Mitigation – the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) 2001 report found that financial statements tell an increasingly smaller part of a business’ state and concluded that it is “imperative for boards to identify and manage these intangible risks.”
  • Regulatory Compliance– Canada’s current regulatory disclosures only pertain to environmental issues. The need to change is imminent.

ESG Reporting Guide

In 2020, the London Stock Exchange Group published “Your Guide to ESG reporting.”  Every indication is that Canada’s near future regulatory disclosures will require ESG reporting.

Tip for Investors

If you want to attract long-term investors, consider how best to demonstrate measurable results using Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG). Canada’s pension funds have been leaders in using ESG to assess the viability of prospective investments and now most investment houses in Canada and beyond are also using ESG in their investment assessments.

CSR Strategies Inc. has done the research and brought together leading experts in ESG since 2014.

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Measuring the social return on investment can be very complicated. So instead of developing a system that is hard to understand and even harder to maintain, we use ESG and the UNSDGs to identify values and measurable actions that can be tracked and assessed – and the results shared with people who care about these things – usually, these people are internal decision-makers, employees, contractors, investors, regulators, the media, and others.

Implementing ESG/CSR saves costs

An ESG/CSR program that aligns with business goals and operations does not need to be costly to establish or operate. In fact, when done right, it reduces overheads, streamlines operations – significantly saving costs, time, and effort; and increasing Goodwill and other intangible assets.