As profit generation and the provision of services and goods remain at the core of each corporation’s processes and main business goals, businesses no matter their sizes and revenue levels can grow consumed with their financial health that they forget to consider other aspects of their presence amongst society. As much as they are meant to serve numerous needs of all members of said society, businesses must also consider the survival of not only the marketplace but the members that constitute the marketplace and society in general, and Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact (CSI) departments are one way that companies can contribute to the wellbeing of the members of society.
Herein lays the contrast between “Corporate Social Irresponsibility”, reflecting companies that actively neglect their impact on society whilst maintaining their business operations, and the other CSI; Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact (CSI), which as the title implies, reflects companies actively identifying their impact on their stakeholders whether internal or external and making proactive decisions or changes to minimize their negative influence or impact and maximize or even diversify how they positively interact with their environment.
The consideration of how one’s imprint fits into society is a task that shouldn’t only be implemented by corporations but as we progress as mankind we must also carry out, to pause and reflect on our relation to the environment, society and our planet, before the negative consequences of our negligence drag us forcefully into this reflection.
Through this piece we choose the second CSI; Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact, as a lens into what it looks like for companies and organizations to become more in tune with their communities and more aware of their impact on their stakeholders and the environment they operate within. CSI is not only a brighter lens but also a whole different nozzle switch that ensures a future where everyone and every entity not only fits in comfortably but also thrives and flourishes within society and the economy at large.
Corporate Culture & Employees’ Morale
One of the main, often forgotten stakeholders that CSI includes in its actions are the members that comprise an organization. It is common that as an organization evolves and grows, the culture that once existed within it can fade away, especially if major decision makers within the organization neglect it. Therefore companies should make it a priority to create, promote and sustain a culture that’s more resilient and sustainable in the face of inevitable change and one that accommodates inclusivity and diversity.
Through their CSI strategies or departments companies are more likely to create the aforementioned environment, as their CSI team or other concerned individuals will devote much of their time to the work environment, and the health and well-being of their employees.
By committing to keeping a healthy culture and environment a business demonstrates a genuine commitment towards its employees on an individualistic level, often seen as an indicator of quality.
And that in turn will reflect positively on the employee’s morale, productivity and confidence level. Not to mention that a healthy work environment is one indicator plenty of candidates and employees value nowadays, and a key determinant of individuals’ loyalty to their organization and how much they are willing to give and add to it.
CSI & Economic Independency
CSI serves to not only support those within the organization but also those outside of the company or even those not relevant to a company’s main activities or value chain. Because community support can and should include all members of society where and when possible.
One way CSI can support communities is through economic empowerment. As some groups and communities are affected by political or social conflicts, they remain short of access to basic resources, such as proper housing, loans or financial assistance or even means of productions, such as raw materials.
In order to tackle these problems, government agencies, nonprofits and businesses form partnerships and alliances to give the tools and resources to these groups, enabling them to financially and independently support themselves and their families, such as teaching them different crafts and skills to making a living off of.
For example, Haggar Group’s CSI department developed a project, namely; the Income Generating Activities Project which aims to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing them with small loans, training sessions on entrepreneurial and marketing skills, while also providing support and assistance within the first two months of their project initiation.
Corporate Sustainability & the Environment
The global economy relies heavily on natural resources such as oil, coal and natural gas. Unfortunately, many of these resources are non-renewable, therefore un-sustainable, meaning they’ll only be available once they’ve been depleted. In-addition these resources cause greenhouse gas emissions affecting the climate in an alarming manner.
Aside from the use of these resources, some business practices lead to environmental pollution, such as the CO2 emissions during their production processes and the non-environmentally safe disposal of waste.
Through time and as more organizations raise more awareness to such environmental issues, more and more companies are adopting sustainable methods and business practices.
This is where Corporate Sustainability comes into play, there are different methods such as developing environmentally-friendly business policies or for an example, Haggar Group, under the umbrella of their CSI department, follows and conducts different measures to calculate, monitor and manage the Group’s impact on the environment and its contribution to the pollution and the climate change. One of which is their Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Inventory, taking into account different business constituents’ GHG emissions on an annual basis. Further future policies aim to undertake internal and external carbon reduction measures, offsetting its emissions and reducing the Group’s carbon footprint.
Other examples of Haggar Group’s CSI adopted sustainability frameworks & policies:
The Sustainability Policy: It defines commitments to environmental and social sustainability.
Performance Standards: Defines Governance, Environmental and Social Performance Standards that define Haggar Group responsibilities for managing their environmental and social risks/impacts.
ISO 26000 Standards: Our Corporate Sustainability & Social Impact department has adopted the seven core subjects of the ISO26000 Corporate Responsibility Standard.
UNGC Principles: As a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Haggar Group is committed to promote the UNGC ten principles under the four thematic areas; Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-Corruption as well as advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
ESG Framework: Haggar Group strives to fully integrate social, environment and governance issues into its strategic plans and core business activities to make the transition to a sustainable business. It has also adopted the CSI values and standards in all its processes and practices to reduce the negative impact on the society and the environment.
Many might say with the economic and even political challenges imposed on businesses these days, it is hard to implement or adopt any CSI policies or strategies, as financial health and survival in the market remain at the top of their priorities, but businesses often forget that these practices are innate or already are in effect within their businesses. And for those policies or actions that are not in existence this piece serves to show that it is not difficult or out of an institution’s natural course or benefit to adopt CSI policies or imbedding them within their practices and even company culture.
As these practices can actually benefit the community by fostering a more open and accepting business presence, promoting inclusivity and reducing costs for both companies and their direct and indirect beneficiaries.
The key is to explore and learn more on the policies and practices conducted and undertaken within the work of CSI.