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The Essential CSR Best Practices

Organizations are facing enormous pressure these days as the regulatory landscape intensifies and the need for transparency increases. Global competition is also increasing, while the demands of customers change rapidly in a market where recessionary forces linger.

Against this backdrop, companies are realizing the importance of deploying sustainability strategies to bolster their market position, build trust and brand loyalty, and retain customers as well as employees.

But many organizations have never implemented such proven methods as engaging all of their stakeholders in a systemic way, or even developing a sustainability report. As a result, well-intentioned sustainability efforts end up missing the mark or lacking the energy needed to succeed.

This was the primary drive in creating a new report, titled "Top Seven Sustainability Practices: the Sum > the Parts."

The special report takes a complex, rapidly evolving field and puts it in a digestible order for users. I identify the top seven practices every organization should be considering, as well as explain how these tactics work together. The report also explores how organizations can use these practices to thrive in the years ahead.

The paper offers a great snapshot of leading sustainability activities and CSR planning, and C-level executives, green teams and board directors are likely to find this research report extremely valuable -- especially as they develop, articulate and execute a sustainability strategy.

Here are a few of the tips from the seven best practices detailed in the report:

Stakeholder Engagement

Whether its employees, nonprofits or others, organizations should identify and prioritize who they need to engage and how to initiate a dialogue. Collaboration and social media tools are some of the emerging ways to connect with stakeholders.

Sustainability / CSR Reporting

Sustainability leaders consistently report on their sustainability and corporate social responsibility activities. They also have the report audited by a third party, which bolsters the level of credibility.

Your organization can do the same. And while there's no standard format yet, the most commonly used guidelines are the ones offered by the Global Reporting Initiative. You can also consult Business in the Community and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Integrating Sustainability into Your Brand

Integrating sustainability into your brand requires significant effort. Of course, you need to ensure your communications are accurate, consistent and relate to your products or services, and that such communications fit in with your overall brand strategy. But more importantly, you need to ensure a corporate culture that supports your sustainability efforts. Integrating sustainability into your brand requires that it be a real part of your entire organization, and not only involve superficial efforts.

As the title of the report suggests, the benefits of employing these best practices in a systemic way go beyond simple returns such as higher sales and greater market share. The sum of your sustainability efforts results in increased trust, sustained and longer-term customer loyalty and internal payback such as increased employee retention and higher morale, among many other benefits.

For more information about this report and to download a free copy, click here.

Perry Goldschein is a founding partner in the award-winning sustainability communications firm
SDialogue, LLC.

Photo by Nic Palmer; image CC licensed by Flickr user CIAT, the
International Center for Tropical Agriculture.



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