During the first year of law school, I learned that a corporation is a person under the law. Wait. You mean a company with 10,000 employees is a person like me? Once I got my head around this bizarre concept, I wondered, “if we’re going to treat a company like a person, shouldn’t it have to act like one – a decent one?” Thankfully, lots of people now wonder the same thing. Enter corporate social responsibility (CSR) or social impact.
The United Nations defines CSR as “a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.” That’s a mouthful. A different way to think of it is a triple bottom line. Companies measure success based on social, environmental and economic impact. The focus is now on people, profits and planet.
Corporate social responsibility is full of terms, concepts and metrics, and the list keeps growing. Some initiatives may include:
- cause marketing
- equitable pay
- diversity, equity and inclusion
- sustainable supply chain
- corporate philanthropy
- community service
It should also be viewed as a spectrum, not a destination (kind of like the decent person thing). A company can begin its CSR journey and take baby steps along the way. Alternatively, it can go big and become a certified B Corp. You should choose your path with intention and follow it with authenticity.