What do we mean by excellence in CSR?

I’m putting together a presentation on what we mean by excellence in CSR for a conference in Budapest in a couple of weeks.

Here’s what I wrote down so far.

Excellence in CSR is:

* Understanding that the role of business in society has changed in the last fifteen years

* Realising that expectations of business are increasing by civil society

* Grasping that governments are not able to deal with all the important issues in society on their own

* Collaborating with partners, such as NGOs, Governments and other companies to help tackle the issues

* Engagement with critics and stakeholders, and not being too proud to understand the point of view of others

* Using that engagement to plan strategy, and innovate in action, products, services and reporting

* Creating a solid, realistic action plan, and getting senior level buy in in your company

* Rolling out that plan, and getting employees to buy in and innovate within your CSR framework

* Driving results, being ambitious and putting the same rigour, measurement and creativity into CSR as you put into other areas of your business

* Spreading the responsibility across the company: In human resources, procurement, supply chains, facilities and sales and marketing

* Admitting you don’t have all the answers, and being willing to say so in public

* Understanding complexity. That improving impact can sometimes involve difficult trade-offs

* Using resources and convening power to raise awareness and catalyse action

* Being transparent about progress and challenging with targets

I’ll be refining this and adding to it over the next couple of weeks.

What might I have missed?


  1. Great list, Toby. I agree that transparency and stakeholder engagement is crucial. I also believe CSR strategies and programs should align with a company's core business. For example, a major tobacco company shouldn't promote "stop smoking" campaigns and call it CSR. It feels inauthentic and reeks of greenwashing.

    And philanthropy does not equal CSR. It may be a aspect of a company's CSR strategy, but it shouldn't be their sole strategy. Too many companies rely on their "corporate giving" as their CSR program. CSR is how you operate as a business when you think no one is watching. Good luck!

  2. Be bold. Have confidence in your convictions and don't let naysayers distract your from your plan.

  3. Perhaps something about becoming an employer of choice – standing out among your competitors as one of the best places for young talent who have high expectations.

    You do have employee engagement in there – but perhaps you could add this.

    I like the other comments. Be bold and courageous with what you do. Lead…etc.

    It will be interesting so hear what the audience thinks of the talk. There are some interesting social entrepreneurism things in Hungary, but I wasn't sure of the CSR activites of local companies. (I will have to ask my husband who is Hungarian! I should know this.)

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