Sarah Ford | May 7, 2014

Corporate social responsibility: Measuring its value

By Shanaz Musafer

No major company strategy is complete these days without a statement on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

In fact, there is now a complete CSR industry.

Companies espouse their desire to invest in communities and care for the environment.

And of course it doesn’t do your reputation any harm to be seen to be “doing good” either.

Authenticity needed

At a fundamental level, CSR involves going beyond looking solely at how to make the most money, to include a wider commitment to building a better society.

This can either be through their actual business practices, or through “extracurricular” activities such as charitable donations, or staff volunteering projects.

According to Mark Wakefield, corporate citizenship manager for IBM UK, the concept itself is not new.

“Fundamentally IBM has been doing this stuff pretty much since its inception, before it was ever conceptualised as CSR,” he says.

The group has recognised the value it gets from doing this, both from the employee’s perspective – in improving staff engagement and morale, and by being an employer staff can feel good about – and from the perspective of clients, who are increasingly monitoring and checking their suppliers.

But looking after the company’s reputation here is not the primary driver, argues Mr Wakefield.

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