The Importance Of CSR Assessment

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No firm—big or small—is likely to do anything about CSR, unless the board of directors, CEO, senior management or owners recognize that some sort of CSR-related problem, opportunity or challenge exists. In turn, this recognition provides the fuel for proceeding with a CSR assessment, with the purpose of better understanding the nature of the problem, opportunity or challenge and its significance for the business.

A logical first step is to gather and examine relevant information about the firm’s products, services, decision making processes and activities to determine where the firm currently is with respect to CSR activity, and to locate its “pressure points” for CSR action. A proper CSR assessment should provide an understanding of the following:
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Assemble a CSR leadership team;
2. Develop a working definition of CSR;
3. Identify legal requirements;
4. Review corporate documents, processes and activities; and
5. Identify and engage key stakeholders.

This is not the only way to do an assessment; rather it is one way a firm can review the full range of its operations through a CSR lens. A number of organizations, such as the GRI, have developed useful tools to help firms perform an assessment. The bottom line is that as long as the firm does a thorough appraisal of its current and potential activities from a CSR perspective then it will have achieved the objective of the assessment.

What is a CSR strategy?
The CSR assessment generates a base of information the firm can use to develop a CSR strategy. A CSR strategy is a road map for moving ahead on CSR issues. It sets the firm’s direction and scope over the long term with regard to CSR, allowing the firm to be successful by using its resources within its unique environment to meet market needs and fulfil stakeholder expectations. A good CSR strategy identifies the following:
• overall direction for where the firm wants to take its CSR work;
• the stakeholders and their perspectives and
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Different firms may be at different stages of awareness of and work on CSR, which will dictate the contents of the strategy. Some may decide to adopt a “minimum necessary” stance. Others may wish to make strategic forays into particular areas.

Why have a CSR strategy?
There is an old saying that “if you don’t know where you’re going, there’s little chance you’re ever going to get there.” This is as true for CSR as it is with any other business approach. Following a CSR strategy helps to ensure that a firm builds, maintains and continually strengthens its identity, its market, and its relationships. Importantly, it provides the framework for a coherent business strategy based on the issues that it and its stakeholders consider material.

How to develop a CSR strategy
The following six steps comprise a suggested way to develop a CSR strategy:
1. Build support with the CEO, senior management and employees;
2. Research what others (including competitors) are doing and assess the value of recognized CSR instruments;
3. Prepare a matrix of proposed CSR

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