5 common mistakes when implementing CSR and how to avoid them

5 common mistakes when implementing CSR and how to avoid them

Corporate Social Responsibility: Sometimes a difficult road to success

Implementing a CSR program is not always obvious, here are 5 common mistakes to avoid.


1. Blurry vision & blurry objectives

There is nothing worse than not providing a clear direction and objectives to teams. The team will simply not know what to work on, and it will result in lots of confusion, frustration, and inefficiencies. Establishing a clear vision is vital.  Hence, expressing and sharing the mission and its objectives are critical. In order to achieve the mission, the objectives must be Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Reasonable and Time-bound (aka as SMART). A great way to set the sustainability objectives is to use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which typically meet the “SMART” characteristics. Some sustainability KPIs are often obvious (e.g Carbon Footprint), some have to be decided and customized to the organization.

In other words, implement CSR with clear objectives.


2. Assembling the wrong team

To execute on the strategy, the right team needs to be assembled. Choosing team members based on experience and knowledge is important, but also, willingness and leadership are key. In addition, choosing the wrong team could lead to a semi-committed effort in achieving the sustainability objectives. The wrong can also be a team that has not influence nor authority. Typically a good team is also a diverse team: Representation from business, operations, technology, hr, finance, and others is better. It helps with collaboration and execution.

In other words, implement CSR with the right team.

3. Thinking short term

Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint. Daily efforts and yearly achievements build up the long-term success and add value incrementally.  Many benefits of sustainability are achieved over longer periods because they typically morph the brand and culture slowly. Reducing pollution or philanthropy are examples of changes that will provide results in the long term rather than in the short term. Don’t let the race bring you down or make you impatient. It’s worth it, just and always think about the long-term effects! Granted they are low-hanging fruits too and easy wins. Those are good for morale and immediate demonstration of success. Combining those quick-quick wins with long term objectives is a good balance.

In other words, implement CSR with long-term in mind.


4. Inconsistent reporting

Once a team has been engaged and medium to long-term activities are in progress, it is time to keep the motivation and control high with good reporting. Inconsistent or inappropriate reporting could cause confusion or even derail all efforts. Engaging and informative reporting makes it simpler for everybody (internally and externally) to understand status and progress to date.  It also clearly shows the amount of work, effort, and achievements made, adding to the sense of purpose. A simple but very efficient way to report is to use the initial KPIs as the primary reporting tool. Because you need easy access and visibility, put those KPIs in a dashboard. Hence the use of a sustainability KPI tracking solution is better.

In other words, implement CSR with a real-time report.


5. Lack of leadership & culture

Motivated teams are usually born from great leadership and company culture. This is why, sustainability needs to be embedded in the culture of the company to ensure everyone is motivated, inspired and willing to make the efforts towards the necessary changes. Leaders must assume an active role, re-sharing the vision continuously. The importance sustainability has for the long term must be repeated often. And that includes the added value it delivers to employees, the company and the community. Sharing a weekly email containing the KPIs from the previous one is a good practice.

In other words, implement CSR with intense leadership.


As a conclusion, implementing CSR is not as obvious as it may seem. Avoiding the above traps will save lots of frustrations.

If you want to learn more about implementing Sustainability/CSR in a business, download our eBook.


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