All Articles Leadership Who -- or what -- should be in charge of a CSR strategy?

Who — or what — should be in charge of a CSR strategy?

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.  We often have guest experts in the field analyze the results; this week, it is my turn.

Last week, we asked: Sustainability: Who is (not who should be) responsible for your company’s CSR strategy?

  • We don’t really have a formal CSR strategy — 33.33%
  • All of us — 27.78%
  • The CEO and executive committee — 16.97%
  • We have a special CSR person — 12.96%
  • Our marketing department — 5.56%
  • Our human resources department — 3.7%
  • Our IT department — 0%

Is there a right answer?  Where should CSR exist? One-third of respondents say they don’t have a CSR strategy, which is a bit disheartening. On the other hand, though, more than a quarter not only have a strategy, but have made it clear that all employees are responsible for its implementation. Others spread out the duties, but that’s not hard to believe given conflicting research.

Getting executives to buy into a CSR program is often cited as the singe-most important factor for a successful CSR strategy.  And the need to weave it into the business as a core value — so that all are responsible for its execution —  is touted.   But then, too, given the growing buzz surrounding CSR, there are other interpretations.  Human resources should play an important role, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, as should specialized people who have finished graduate programs leading to degrees in CSR or sustainability  — which might lead to putting a particular person in charge of CSR.  As with most ideas, there are those who dis CSR,  and others who think that if it exists, it should do so in the marketing department.

So, who should be responsible for implementing, measuring and communicating a company’s CSR strategy?

Some ideas to start you off….