71% of Spanish companies plan to implement a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy this year. In fact, some 43% have already done so in the last year, with the remaining 28% planning to roll them out immediately, according to the HAYS Guide.
The Covid-19 pandemic only served to strengthen companies' commitment to their surroundings, not only on an environmental level, but also in the social sphere. In this article, you can find out all about CSR strategy and read about some inspiring examples of businesses with social responsibility.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a new way of running companies, where the impact of their activities is taken into account, both for its employees and stakeholders, as well as in social, economic and environmental terms.
The aim is to set up a series of measures with a solid commitment to reduce or compensate for any potential repercussions that such business activity may have. However, it's worth noting that, right now, drafting a CSR strategy is completely voluntary.
For these reasons, companies with a CSR strategy work ethically in order to be more sustainable and add social value to their operations. This concept affects all the various areas of management in a company, which must adapt their approach to improve their practices. Some of the key points to bear in mind are:
To properly understand what Corporate Social Responsibility is all about, it's best to look at a few successful examples of business social responsibility:
Danone has turned into an excellent example of business social responsibility. To its initial commitment to improving people's nutrition, it has added an increasingly sustainable production model, as well as its own Animal Welfare protocol, developed hand-in-hand with animal welfare association Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
This company establishes lasting ties with local farmers with the aim of improving the development of local communities and reducing the environmental impact of their activities. So, as the first FMCG company certified by B Corp in Spain, Danone's purpose transcends its business and calls for an economy at the service of the people.
Laia Mas, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Danone Iberia, points out that “our mission is to be part of the engine driving change in society, through a production model that takes the social, environmental and economic impact into account”.
The CSR strategy of General Electrics, known as Ecomagination, has been running since 2002. Through innovation, it addresses three sustainability-related challenges: the energy transition and climate change, precision healthcare for all, and a future with more efficient flights.
So-called Tier 4 locomotives, in service since 2017, are the most tangible result of their CSR strategy, as these trains have reduced their emissions by up to 85% compared to previous models.
Another company with an exemplary CSR strategy is IKEA. The popular Swedish furniture company has been building its CSR strategy for many years, based around three challenges: facilitating sustainable and healthy living in homes; a circular production model that's environmentally friendly; and fair and equal dealings in all their business relationships.
One of its recent major milestones was the withdrawal - both in its stores and in its restaurants - of all single-use plastics. They also highlight their initiatives to combat poverty and climate change, through the IKEA Foundation, which actively works to improve quality of life for people with limited resources.
The company Natura was launched in 1992 with the aim of striking a balance between profitability and principles. Thus, its CSR strategy is implicit in its operations, and over the years it has proven that it is possible to be profitable and sustainable at the same time. In fact, in 2020, Natura was recognised as one of the most ethical companies in the world in a list published by Ethisphere Institute.
This is partly thanks to the fact that, to date, they have managed to eliminate 100% of plastic packaging from their online orders, use green energy in 86% of their stores, and implement an efficient recycling system across their entire production chain. Moreover, most of its products are made sustainably, reducing consumption of materials and supplies as much as possible.
ONCE, the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind, classifies all of its CSR strategy under the Master Plan, which in turn is aligned with the United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its strategic lines of actions focus on the quality and innovation of its social services, lotteries, the development of people's talent, good governance, sustainability and ethics.
Similarly, it demonstrates its commitment to both the environment, by minimising its environmental footprint, and in the social sphere, being a leading company in terms of the integration of persons with disabilities.
Social and environmental awareness is increasing in all fields, to the stage that, at present, some 80% of a company's value depends on intangible deeds. Basically, acting irresponsibly has a negative effect on a brand's image and reputation.
CSR strategies are also linked to a new wave of young leaders who are hyper-aware of the problems facing the planet, meaning that ever more companies are transforming their policies into ones more in line with the present context.
However, to establish a good CSR strategy that allows companies to forge lasting relations with their clients, enhance their market reputation, reduce costs, boost trust, and attract and retain talent, it's vital to possess soft skills such as emotional intelligence, commitment, decision-making and teamworking.
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