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The nine key elements to the modern business case for CSR

“We can never get enough business case”. I hear that all the time.

In a good week I probably meet 2-3 heads of CR/Sustainability. I hear this from them all the time.

(Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as our Gallic cousins might say)

Today I was going over a presentation from a couple of years ago (re-hashing material for a new presentation, me? Never!) and I found this nine point list from one of my favourite thinkers in the world of sustainable business, David Grayson.

David has a new book out, and you should buy it here.

Here’s the list, still highly relevant (less than two years old) and it may be of some interest to readers:

The nine key elements to the modern business case for CSR (in no particular order)

1. Brand value and reputation – benefits realised from responsible business that improve the value of the brand and/or the reputation of the brand or organisation.

2. Employees and future workforce – benefits from responsible business practice that affects the working life of employees, and the ability to attract and hold on to talent. This includes employee motivation, productivity, recruitment, satisfaction, retention, engagement, and loyalty.

3. Operational effectiveness – improvements and innovation in an organisation’s practices and processes as a direct result of being more responsible and sustainable, creating more effective operations and higher levels of efficiency.

4. Risk management – benefits resulting from CR efforts that improve the organisation’s ability to identify and reduce exposure to risk, and prepare for and manage risks better.

5. Direct financial impact – direct benefit to the financial performance of an organisation. For example improving access to capital, reducing costs, and improving shareholder value.

6. Organisational growth – an opportunity for overall organisational growth derived from being a responsible business, whether through new markets, new product development, lateral expansion, new customers, or new partnerships/alliances.

7. Business opportunity – new opportunities or innovation generation created for all stakeholders specifically because of their efforts in being a responsible business. This can result in new business development, but critically it is about win-win opportunities for a variety of stakeholders.

8. Organisational leadership – defined as “leadership achieved through helping society” which results from a radical change in the internal corporate values and external market reconstitution.

9. Macro-level sustainable development – defined as “the impact and responsibilities an organisation has to higher level economic, social and environmental issues”.

(Grayson, D. Ethical Corporation, September 2011 edition)

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, as they say.

1 Comment

  1. Good to see this on the front page.

    I remember a very wealthy and political power-broker businessman here in Canada saying to me once that CSR was a passing fad as companies wouldn't want to do anything that damages their reputation.

    The fact is businesses have to find value in an ever changing world where the old circumstances don't apply and increasingly won't apply.

    And good CSR helps them measure those metrics- without which nothing would be done.

    Suffice to say that anyone who doesn't find a new value proposition is going to struggle and the CSR/Sustainability leaders will find themselves in pole position and taking the chequered flag.

    It would be good if politicians could become more imaginative than they are in finding ways to incentivize the changes.