The S in CSR represents "social" and refers to the social impact of business decisions and practices with respect to four primary stakeholders: the employees of an organization, the community from where business is conducted, the environment and the supply chain. The outcomes of these decisions contribute to the social and cultural environment of today's citizen consumers affecting the quality of their efforts in laying the foundation for the next generation.
The "S" provides an organization the means for the expression of its core values and offers a consistent framework for audit and measurement vis à vis its stakeholders.
As I discussed in yesterday's post, there has been some discussion to remove the "S" from CSR and simply refer to Corporate Social Responsibility as Corporate Responsibility. This is what some companies have chosen to do. Why would anyone argue for the disappearance of the "S" from CSR? To see the "S" disappear signals to me the erosion of opportunity for engagement and suggests the potential risk to lose momentum in our social gains.
How do an organization's core values affect its 4 primary stakeholders?
When you look at your employees, can you tell if they are genuinely engaged by the relationship they have with your organization? What are the results of annual employee surveys? You do survey your people every year, don't you? How do you respond to the survey? Do your employees receive your feedback? How do you engage your employees, authentically? Do they know the organization's values? Do they live the values? Can they voice the values, verbally and non-verbally?
Do you have policies in place to positively impact your community? Do you hire and buy locally to the extent that options for doing so exist? Do you respond immediately to concerns expressed by your community? Do you invest in your community? Do you monitor the impact of your business on your community?
Do your business decisions have a positive influence on the environment? Do you minimize the negative impact of your business footprint?
Your supply chain
What questions do you ask of your suppliers? Do you obtain assurance that there are no negative consequences to society or the environment as a result of your purchasing decisions? Do your suppliers know and understand your procurement standards? How do you confirm that human rights abuses have not been part of your supply chain?
This list is by no means exhaustive. Better yet, consider it a guide to the intended interpretation of the social behind the "S".
What assessment gaps do you see in the considerations provided for each stakeholder?
What additional questions would you ask?
Photo credit: Ariel Dovas, Now and S, June 2009 via flikr