There are too many terms and acronyms in the world of corporate social responsibility. We hope this cheat sheet is helpful. Unfortunately, this list will be outdated the minute we stop typing.
Accountability: A term about taking responsibility. We like the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “the time is always right to do what is right.”
Authenticity: Be real. Be yourself. Act naturally. Adam Grant, a professor at University of Pennsylvania, says it best. “Eras[e] the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. It is important for any CSR initiative to be authentic to the company.
B Corp: Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Benefit Corporation: This is a C or S corporation with a twist. It protects a company’s mission through capital raises and leadership changes, creates more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options, and prepares businesses to lead a mission-driven life post-IPO. It is less rigorous than a B Corp.
Cause Marketing: There is no official definition. Like any good restaurant, we have a house brand. Connecting a company and cause together in an authentic way for the purpose of increasing profits and improving society.
Community Relations: A company’s effort to create a meaningful and mutually-beneficial relationship with its community.
Corporate Citizenship: Acknowledging that companies have a social, cultural and environmental responsibility to society.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This is the catchall for all things relating to a company’s attempt to be more considerate, aware and/or responsible. It includes issues like equal pay, sustainability, diversity in the workplace, and philanthropy, to name a few.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI). This phrase affirms a company’s commitment to embrace differences in people, and treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Employee Engagement: The emotional commitment an employee has to the company and its values.
Employee Resource Group (ERG): A group of employees who share a common trait or interest coming together to improve the workplace.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). This is a metric created for socially conscientious investors. It provides an objective way to evaluate a company’s impact on the environment, its treatment of others, and they way it manages its internal affairs. It was introduced by the UN Principles of Responsible Investment in 2006.
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): is the independent, international organization that helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts, by providing them with the global common language to communicate those impacts. We provide the world’s most widely used standards for sustainability reporting – the GRI Standards.
Impact Investing: an investment strategy that considers the social and environmental impact, as well as the financial return.
Laugh Out Loud (LOL): This has nothing to do with CSR, but if you made it this far, you deserve a little levity.
Mission Statement: A mission statement contemplates what the company does. It is typically a sentence or two. For example, the mission statement of LinkedIn is “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful” (See Vision Statement).
Non Governmental Organization (NGO): It’s not a governmental organization. It is a group or institution with a social mission. Often times, it is also referred to as a nonprofit.
People, Planet, Profit: The phrase that four scared Wall Street tycoons repeated walking arm in arm to see the Wizard of CSR. Nah. The three Ps is another way to describe the triple bottom line.
Philanthropy: The act of doing charitable work, or an activity designed to improve human welfare
Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI): An independent, international group of investors, established under the United Nations, that encourages responsible investments. The group established the Six Principles of Responsible Investments.
Purpose: This may be the most wishy-washy term on the page, but it is arguably the most important. Purpose is figuring out why your company exists; what problem it is trying to solve; what aspect of society it seeks to improve. A clear and concise statement is critical. Your company’s actions are imperative. For example, Whole Foods purpose is “to nourish people and the planet.”
Social Entrepreneurship: The act of starting a business for the joint purpose of making money and impacting a social cause.
Social Enterprise: An organization that combines the social mission of a nonprofit and the market-driven approach of business.
Social Impact: The manner in which an organization’s activities affect the community.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). The act of investing in a company that is considered to be socially responsible.
Sustainability: The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): An international framework for improving the lives of populations around the world and mitigating the hazardous man-made effects of climate change.
Triple Bottom Line: A business concept that measures the social, environmental and financial impact of a company.
Values: The values of a company are a compass. They provide direction and guidance for making decisions, and sets the expectations of all those involved with the company (employees, customers, suppliers, etc). At LinkedIn, the values are transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor and results.
Venture Philanthropy: The application of strategies and resources usually deployed in venture capital being applied toward philanthropic or social ventures. The most notable distinction is the return on investment (ROI) is not entirely financial. Social impact is a metric too.
Vision Statement: A vision statement contemplates where the company wants to go – the ultimate goal. It is typically a sentence or two. For example, LinkedIn vision statement is “to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce (See Mission Statement).