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What does CSR mean at your company?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from more than 17,000 CSR leaders. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter. This week’s analysis is provided by Aman Singh, senior editor of corporate responsibility at

Last week, we asked: What does CSR mean at your company?

  • Green initiatives (recycling, double-sided printing, etc.) — 19.35%
  • Philanthropy — 6.45%
  • Environmental, health and safety — 6.45%
  • Regulatory work — 3.23%
  • Community outreach (volunteerism) — 1.61%
  • Diversity and inclusion (employee attraction and retention) — 1.61%
  • Marketing platform — 0%
  • A combination of the above — 61.29%

This was a loaded question for sure, and a conversation that will continue to brew and simmer. While I expected a divergence in the results, the answers went above and beyond. The positives: Over half of you defined CSR as an umbrella term encompassing a combination of the presented choices; and almost a fifth chose green initiatives, which, albeit distressing, isn’t altogether bad news. Further, while I remain skeptical of the disconnect with reality and “marketing” receiving no takers, let’s just say we all GET it.

Worryingly, however, only 1.6% picked diversity and inclusion and volunteerism, which means the recruitment and retention of your employees is not a big part of the way you — and your employer — understand CSR. This in turn means that you are not equipped to retain employees who can willingly align their professional goals with the company’s growth because they are not constantly engaged, challenged or motivated.

This then leads me to ask: If you are not capitalizing on this key internal stakeholder group as brand ambassadors, what chances do you have of making effective headway with your external stakeholders?