A CSR Department???

09/11/2010 at 14:00 13 comentarios

How should companies tackle their CSR strategy? Should they dedicate a whole new department in order to coordinate and manage the process, or should it be the task of all departments in the company, from management to the lowest level?

The answer to the riddle will define the job of most of us in the future, and probably it is doing it right now already.

It’s right to say that whether CSR should be the task of an independent department or not depends on the type and size of company, their approach to CSR and their expectations about that.

Personally, I believe that CSR should not be “the property” of just a few chosen. CSR should define how the whole company does things, no matter in which department you work.

CSR is a relatively new phaenomenom for some companies. That’s the reason why some of them need an in-house expert who can lead/coordinate all the activities dealing with CSR, as well as act as a bridge between departments and towards the stakeholders.

Other companies consider CSR as a part of their marketing strategy. Yes, I know, this approach is very questionable, to say the least, but we all know that it’s how some businesses deal with corporate responsibility. In these cases, CSR will be the task of the marketing department (aka greenwashing).

In many cases an external consultant will help the company set up a CSR policy, talking with the management and the different departments, and letting them do the job all alone once everything is settled.

As you can see, different approaches are possible. What do you think? Please take the following poll and let us know what you think.


Entry filed under: Sin categoría.

CSR: Don’t forget to adapt your message CSR is everyone’s task

13 comentarios Add your own

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  • 2. Peter Askew  |  09/11/2010 en 18:30

    CSR’s not an end in itself. It’s a vehicle to help create sustainable enterprise.

    The whole business needs to think in terms of sustainable enterprise, and as with every business function, it needs to start with strategy before being operationalised before being marketed.

    But don’t underestimate the need for marketing in the whole mix. The civil foundation won’t move fast enough to change market forces, so ultimately it will come down to brands to establish value in leveraging the business’ unique sustainability assets, and to create market competition for credibility in this space.

    • 3. Juan Villamayor  |  09/11/2010 en 23:34

      I fully agree with you, CSR is the way, not the goal. And the more all departments are involved in the process, the better. CSR should irradiate through all the company.
      Regarding marketing: Of course, communicating and “selling” our CSR efforts are a crucial part so that other companies, institutions and citizens can learn from our experience

  • 4. timmerrick67  |  09/11/2010 en 19:21

    Really good article and having voted I was pleased (for once!) to be in the majority. I think CSR has to run throughout an organisation for it to be truly effective and as importantly effectively integrated. Employees do respond to inclusive actions and when it comes to identifying with your company this can be lost if CSR is handled by a remote department.



    • 5. Juan Villamayor  |  09/11/2010 en 23:37

      Thanks Tim! You are right, the whole organisation should feel CSR as their own, and not as just a part of a department.
      First, we need the commitment from the board; then, we have to involve everybody in the company so that the process can be successful…

  • 6. Lina Téllez  |  09/11/2010 en 19:44

    Opino que tanto contratar un consultor en RSE, como tener una persona responsable en la empresa, es válido. Si bien la RSE debe ser transversal, alguien debe coordinarla, educar a la comunidad corporativa y medirla permanentemente.

    A futuro es probable que la organización logre tener una cultura socialmente responsable y se puedan autoregular en cada una de las áreas, pero para empezar es importante tener a alguien responsable que no esté ligado ni a áreas legales, ni ambientales, ni mucho menos de mercadeo. Debe ser un agente neutro.

    Si una empresa tiene un área responsable de esto, me parece que da fe del interés y la prioridad que la RSE tiene, pues así como se tienen áreas de Gestión de Calidad o de I+D (que se supone son también transversales), no está mal tener una de RSE, que permanentemente esté motivando e innovando.

    • 7. Juan Villamayor  |  09/11/2010 en 23:40

      Qué interesante lo que dices de que alguien más o menos neutral coordine las acciones de RSE dentro de la empresa, al menos al principio, hasta que la RSE se integre dentro de la manera de ser de todos los departamentos.
      Muchas empresas están empezando a trabajar ahora con la RSE, un empujón (externo o interno) en forma de coordinador de RSE no vendría mal.

  • 8. Lina Téllez  |  09/11/2010 en 19:47

    I think hiring a consultant both in CSR, such as having a responsible person in the company, is valid. Even if CSR has to be cross, someone is needed to coordinate, educate the corporate community and measured continuously.

    In the future it is likely that the organization can gain a socially responsible and can self-regulate in each of the areas, but to start is important to have someone responsible who is not bound or areas of law, or environmental, let alone marketing . It should be a neutral agent.

    If a company has an area responsible for this, I think that attests to the interest and priority to CSR is thus well as have areas of Quality Management or ID (which are assumed to also cross), not bad have a CSR, which is motivating and innovating constantly.

  • 9. Mirella Soyer  |  10/11/2010 en 08:41

    CSR is a fast developing field that encompasses organizational behaviour in the market place, the work place, the commmunity and last but not least the environment. As such it impacts many different business functions.

    Functional specialists require a certain firm size, simply because these overheads can only be supported by sufficient economies of scale. Smaller firms may benefit from external support in order to follow developments in the main CSR areas and facilitate implementation with key personall in the firm.
    However larger firms may benefit from a CSR department. Not so much to ‘own’ the CSR function, but to keep abreast of new developments, regulations, standards, ideas and armed with that facilitatie knowledge development, ensure cross-fertilisation of ideas and initiatives to other departments. Especially large entitites due to their sheer size need to ensure that mitigate their negative business impacts and enlarge positive impacts.

    • 10. Juan Villamayor  |  10/11/2010 en 18:03

      CSR should have a holistic, transversal, multidisciplinary approach; but I agree with you, only bigger companies can justify and afford having a CSR department…

  • 11. Henk Hadders  |  11/11/2010 en 15:45

    Nice poll. For me, CSR can’t be externalized and the marketing department should not define CSR. It should certainly not be an exclusive task of management, as we all know where that will lead us. For me sustainability is everybody’s task (all workers, all departments), but also with a sustainability function present at the corporate level. But should such a corporate sustainability management function have an ‘independent’ position within the organization, like the financial department focused on financial reporting and control? For me both need to be ‘independent’ in the sense that they are fiduciary issues, and directors have (1) a fiduciary duty to oversee the financial affairs of the firm, and (2) they have a fiduciary duty to oversee the “sustainability processing” affairs of the firm (on which quality stakeholders depend too). For me it also seems logical that we need a CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer) next to a CFO, as the financial bottom line is still very different for the Triple Bottom Line.


  • 12. Julio Alonso Iglesias  |  12/11/2010 en 20:22

    Independientemente de que exista un area que cordine esta actividad, considero que todas las areas de ben tener conciencia de esto, ya que todos inciden de una manera u otra en la Responsabilidad social corporativa con la sociedad

  • […] my previous post of two weeks ago I was suggesting a poll. I was asking you to tell me your opinion about CSR being […]



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Juan Villamayor

Consultor en Responsabilidad y Sostenibilidad Empresarial (RSE). Economista y MBA radicado en Barcelona, con un perfil eminentemente internacional.

Es posible generar más valor mientras se aplican principios éticos. Al final todos salen beneficiados: las empresas, la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Eso es lo que yo llamo "Negocios Con Sentido Común".

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