Strategy first, tactics second
It’s unfortunate that more businesses don’t think to integrate their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans with their existing business plan. The result of making CSR an ‘add-on’ is most often frustration and complaint that the plan is a cost to the business.
By way of illustration, I offer example from the recent Business Travel Show in London. Participants were enthusiastic about ‘virtual meetings’, in part due to the potential for cost avoidance. While virtual meetings are great can provide added value as well as reduced emissions and travel costs, the purchase of such a system may not deliver desired result without an integrated strategy.
When businesses lack an integrated CSR strategy, money invested on products (a strategic tactic) must deliver an immediate return on investment. If positioned as a cost cutting measure, there is risk that the internal team will interpret this as something to resist.
By contrast, a company that develops a thoughtful approach to Triple Bottom Line business principles, and then works to develop a culture around that plan, will more easily realize the benefits of tactical measures. The investment will be a natural extension of a committed plan to reduce emissions and create a healthier community and clients will see material evidence of a working environmental management plan.
Reduce Confusion, reduce cost
In a difficult economy, business needs to run more efficiently than ever. Random tactics, such as the virtual meeting example above, or any other isoloated initiative, creates a risk of compromising a CSR plan by creating costs without realizing optimum benefit. When random tactics are initiated absent a strategy, internal teams become overwhelmed with options and may fall victim to disorganization.
When tactics follow an outlined plan, momentum is built and the CSR plan matures at a pace that mirrors the company’s needs.
The United Nations Global Compact offers pathways for businesses to develop their strategic approaches. Sweden’s The Natural Step has an excellent process to help businesses create environmental management approaches to becoming more nimble businesses.
With a well developed plan, and a strategic approach to sustainable tactics, your business will sooner be a success story of a CSR plan that works.