How does CSR work

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"Corporate Social Responsibility" or CSR for short is the social responsibility of companies in terms of sustainable management.

CSR is the responsibility of companies for their impact on society. This includes social, ecological and economic aspects, such as those set out in internationally recognized reference documents on corporate responsibility, in particular in the ILO Declaration of Principles on Companies and Social Policy, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in UN Global Compact or in ISO 26000. Specifically, for example, it is about fair business practices, employee-oriented personnel policy, economical use of natural resources, protection of the climate and the environment, serious commitment on site and responsibility also in the supply chain.

Conceptual demarcation

In practice, many companies use the terms CSR and sustainability largely synonymously. Some companies speak of sustainability strategy and sustainability report, others of CSR strategy and CSR report. In theory, however, CSR as a concept is more narrowly defined than sustainability: CSR describes the specific contribution that companies make to sustainable management.

For some years now, many companies have also frequently used the term corporate responsibility (CR) as a synonym for CSR. With the concept of CR, some authors emphasize the economic dimension of sustainability and corporate management issues more strongly than with CSR, others prefer CR to avoid a misunderstanding: In German, the "social" in CSR is often misunderstood as "social" and CSR incorrectly as Interpreted concept that aims only at the social dimension of corporate sustainability. Accordingly, the term corporate responsibility has been used more frequently in business practice in Germany in recent years than CSR.

Corporate Citizenship, on the other hand, only describes the commitment that goes beyond the actual business activity of a company and thus includes the area of ​​the non-profit engagement of the company. Corporate citizenship is essentially limited to sponsorship, donations and foundation activities.

Not without a core business

The implementation of CSR differs from company to company: CSR activities are different in a manufacturing company than in retail, the listed group faces different challenges than the family-run medium-sized company with roots in the region.

Everyone who successfully implements CSR in a company has one thing in common: it does not work without a clear reference to their own business activities. Companies that see their CSR activities as "add-ons" that have nothing to do with the business model and core business processes fall short of the mark. Whether occupational safety, employee satisfaction, energy efficiency or minimum standards in the supply chain - many CSR fields of action are decisive for business success.