Corporate Social Responsibility

November 6, 2018 in
By FMP Staff

The month of November seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the many acts related to giving, both on the organizational and individual levels. We begin the month with a look at the organizational impacts of giving by focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Corporations face increased scrutiny for their actions (both positive and negative) and many taut social responsibility policies or practices. Let’s spend some time learning more about these practices and how they enable businesses to give back.

As we all become more globally interconnected, consumers have more insight to how businesses operate and impact the environment and well-being of their employees. Many times, this occurs by shedding light on positive and negative externalities, which are economic transactions that impact a third party (e.g., a company that pollutes the environment of local residents is a negative externality; a company that provides sustainable and fair labor practices to an under-served community is a positive externality). The increased exposure of negative impacts, coupled with a focus on companies doing more than just making profits, has caused many organizations to rethink their strategies.

A major movement in giving back is the concept of corporate social responsibility, often known as CSR. Corporate social responsibility is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.[1] This provides an excellent way for companies and agencies to put their stated values into practices.

An executive briefing by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) focused on the crucial role the human resource functional area plays in the overall organizational goals of sustainability and social responsibility. The report suggests that the HR team should review all HR core functions relating to protection of employee rights, equal opportunity in employment, recruitment, training, development, workplace facilities, health, safety and well-being, compensation, organizational culture, and communications to ensure they are aligned to support the sustainability and social responsibility goals set by the organization (see Figure 1).[2]


A global brand that comes to mind when considering CSR is Starbucks. Their focus on pay equity, 100% ethically sourced coffee, and providing opportunities for their employees is frequently cited as being on the forefront of corporate responsibility. These tenants help to drive decisions made by the board, as well as builds loyalty with customers who want their dollars to be used for good. Looking forward, Starbucks’s goals include hiring 10,000 refugees across 75 countries; reducing the environmental impact of its cups; and engaging its employees in environmental leadership[3].

However, don’t let the “Corporate” part of CSR trip you up!  Non-profits, sole proprietorships, and government agencies all have a role in considering social responsibility when creating their vision or mission. Closer to home, the Federal government has supported charitable organizations and fundraising tracing back to the late 1940’s and in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the U.S. Civil Service Commission to develop guidelines and regulations for fundraising in the Federal service. Today, the Combined Federal Campaign(CFC), run through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is the largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, estimated at over 20,000 non-profit charitable organizations worldwide, ranging from small community groups to large, well-known charities, like the American Red Cross. The 2018 CFC just launched (September 18, 2018) and is open through January 11, 2019 – visit the CFC Online Donation Systemfor more information.  In addition, starting in 2009, the USDA sponsors an initiative to end hunger, Feds Feed Families (FFF).This cross-department effort collected nearly 10.5 million pounds of donated food last year and is a great, tangible way to see the impact the Federal workforce can make!

To get started at your organization, the International Organization for Standardization(ISO) has Social Responsibility (ISO 26000) guidelines to clarify what social responsibility is and help businesses and organizations translate these principles into effective actions and shares best practices relating to social responsibility, no matter the organization’s size or geographic location.[4] While ISO 26000 is a set of guidelines, and not a certification, it can push an organization to act in an ethical and transparent way.

Stay tuned to the rest of our blogs this month as we continue to explore giving and share insight into what FMP is doing to promote giving and charity

[1]Corporate Social Responsibility  

[2]Cohen, Elaine, Sully Taylor, and Michael Muller-Camen. “HR’s Role in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability.” SHRM Foundation Executive Briefing.’s Role in Corporate Social Responsibility.pdf  

[3]Starbucks 2017 Global Social Impact Performance Report

[4]International Organization for Standardization ISO 26000 Guidelines