McKinsey Quarterly has published an essay about how businesses can improve the chances that the money they spend on corporate social responsibility programs actually will generate some sort of meaningful return.
The article, called "Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility," focuses on two primary concepts: First, the notion that corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs can't be managed off on the side, they must be integrated into overall corporate strategy, and second that business leaders should focus not just on internal efforts but on finding the right partners to help them get there. The McKinsey writers use Unilever as an illustration of both concepts.
There are a few high-level takeaways they highlight, which bear repeating here.
Like any other strategic objective, sustainability efforts need to be specific and attainable. A great example, which is amplified in the article, is Unilever's "Project Shakti," intended to help rural women in India "develop independence and self-esteem." If you look at the matrix of benefits to both Unilever and the local community, there are specific goals for each. So, for example, Unilever sought to drive employment for up to 42,000 rural women, helping drive $100 million in new sales in the region. The education and training it provided had a tangible positive impact on Unilever's corporate reputation, while a corresponding improvement in health and living standards helped the company create an entirely new rural distribution system.
You get the picture.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com