How can a CSR strategy
Nowadays everyone is familiar with the concept of a CSR strategy, but in the same way, everyone has their own interpretation of what exactly this entails. Of course, much depends on the context; a private citizen will perhaps be more interested in supporting a local shop selling unpacked goods, whereas an employee may look towards the cost-saving potential of reducing energy consumption. Both aspects are completely aligned to a CSR strategy, which underlines the need to take a step back and appraise what is appropriate to your context.
In this article MindForest shares some details about the experience it has gained over the years in the field of corporate CSR strategy, based on the journey its team has undertaken. In 2014, their team assessed its existing strategy and realized that in the great majority of cases it was in complete alignment with CSR guidelines, except that many aspects had never been formalized or embedded in written processes. This was the moment when the CSR committee was founded with the aim of rectifying the situation and then proceeding towards iNDR (the National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility) certification.
On the basis of the Luxembourg consulting company experience in change management, they approached the challenge of formalizing a written CSR strategy like any other change project. The first step was to ensure the support of a strong sponsor, in this case the management, and then to define the scope of the project. The iNDR online self-assessment tool enabled MindForest to align existing practices with the requirements of the certification process, and then outlined a list of priorities and set specific, timely and measurable goals.
Many hands make light work
In order to ensure the tasks were equally shared among the team, MindForest set up a CSR committee comprising representatives of different fields of expertise in the company. The aim of this committee being to benefit from diverse input to advance the project and also to support a two-way communication flow, sharing information and feedback about the project throughout the company. Communication is an essential element of any project, but in this case, it seemed even more important given that the team was embarking on something completely new.
Once the committee had been set up, the members assessed the prerequisites to strategy definition and came up with the following list to ensure that the strategy was:
- In overall alignment with the company’s corporate goals
- Contributing to the sustainability of the company
- Easy to explain and understand
- Supported by the project sponsors
- Related to the company’s core business and not based on a series of one-shots.
Setting attainable goals
The committee then took the pillars of a global CSR strategy as a starting point and assessed what it could reasonably hope to achieve over a short-, medium- and long-term basis. It is vital to set achievable goals, especially when first embarking on such a journey, as otherwise without the possibility of celebrating the first successes, it will be difficult to maintain support and motivation levels, particularly as this does not constitute part of the core business.
Here are some ideas of the topics selected for priority during this initial phase:
- Reducing energy consumption by compiling a best practices advice sheet, e.g. turning lights off in unused rooms and not leaving computers running unnecessarily
- Improving the refuse sorting and encouraging colleagues to use re-usable cutlery and plates
- Gaining SuperDrecksKëscht certification for sustainable and responsible waste management
- Improving and documenting the welcome process
- Launching internal polls to gauge employee satisfaction levels
- Working with the HR department to define training requirements
- Organising social events for the team, such as a weekly 30-minute Link & Drink exchanges
- Cooperating with the project management department to improve project viability and methods
- Focusing on client satisfaction levels
- Mapping the stakeholders
- Definition of a communication strategy, including a range of posters to explain the project and initiated “5 minutes for CSR” at every monthly team meeting
- Creation of a logo with a member of the graphic team
- Cooperation with the Managing Partners to define a slogan:
This map shows the journey MindForest was planning to embark on, as their team believes that visualization can play a major role in gaining support of and understanding for a project. And thus, this map played a key role in explaining the new strategy to the team.
Rolling out the strategy
With these priorities defined, the committee was then able to organize monthly committee meetings to work on them, taking care to interact with team colleagues in order to benefit from their expertise and gain their support. It also liaised with the iNDR to discuss suitability for certification and was able to make valuable progress thanks to their feedback leading to application for the first audit in 2015. In the meantime, members of the committee had also enrolled for CSR training to acquire a good working knowledge of the theoretical basis for this work.
MindForest was duly audited and the auditor’s report highlighted the very fact that their approach aligned its CSR strategy to that of the company, rather than succumbing to the temptation of more mediatic measures – such as sorting clothes for a charity – with no visible long-term benefit for the organisation. He also praised the fact that the strategy concentrated on elements which could be tested internally and then reproduced for clients as part of MindForest’s consulting offer, e.g. the newly appraised welcome process and accompanying documentation. This has continued to influence the CSR strategy to date, as the MindForest CSR committee aims to contribute towards ensuring the perennity of the company and thus benefitting all employees. A truly effective CSR strategy is not about uncoordinated one-off actions, but far more aims to align with existing objectives, as a means of ensuring global success.
In the meantime, and in recognition of its strong commitment to CSR, MindForest has been awarded the ESR “Responsible Company” label in Luxembourg by the iNDR for the third consecutive time. The consulting company’s CSR policy is an integral part of its strategy and is part of a resolutely participative approach; it is supported by the management and recognized by all employees.
The renewal of the CSR label is a tribute to the work accomplished by the teams to support MindForest’s ambition: to set an example by sharing its best practices with its network, to encourage its clients to adopt a well-constructed CSR approach and to act in an environmentally responsible manner. MindForest takes its CSR commitment very seriously, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because the team is convinced that it is a key element in the growth of the company.
To quote Robert Louis Stevenson “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant”.