The Importance of Transparency in Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts

October 11, 2022 | Diversity & Inclusion | 8 min read

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an increasingly important topic to global organizations looking to have a positive impact on the world around them and generate a competitive advantage. Here at Skillsoft, we’re examining the impact of our existing CSR efforts and refocusing on initiatives that will truly move the needle ... more on that later!

Last month, we shared an overview of CSR – including what it is and why your organization should care – and introduced our first-annual CSR survey. Our goal is to help organizations around the world to benchmark their CSR progress so we can all have a more informed picture of the CSR landscape moving forward.

We believe that the resulting report will be a useful tool for any organization – whether you are just starting to examine your CSR efforts or you are further along in your efforts. But in the meantime, we wanted to take a look at some solid examples of companies who are sharing their corporate responsibility efforts and results. We are proud to work with many of them.

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The Importance of Transparency

With any type of CSR initiative, transparency is key to accountability in setting and meeting goals. After all, getting stakeholders, employees, vendors, and others on board with your CSR efforts require them knowing about those efforts – and in many cases, help to carry them out.

Publishing an annual CSR report is one of the main ways that organizations share their progress in CSR – and help to communicate key information about their corporate culture, commitment to employees’ mental health, and social responsibility efforts.

What is CSR all about? Thoughts from Top Organizations

CSR is about corporate culture.

For many organizations, CSR initiatives have helped to highlight how their operations impact the world around them – employees, shareholders, community, and environment. In fact, many job seekers look to an organization’s CSR initiatives as an indicator of corporate culture.

Here are some statistics you might find interesting:

Take a look at some excerpts from top organizations’ recent CSR reports that point to their strong corporate culture and commitment to the people and communities around them:

“In business, we keep score with money. But business isn’t about money — it’s about people. And people long for something way bigger than just money. I’m so proud and thankful to be on a team with associates and owners who continue to use their business success as a springboard to be significant in their communities.” Ace Hardware President and CEO John Venhuizen

“When our founders opened the first Home Depot store, they did so with a well-defined culture. More than 40 years later, our eight core values and our commitment to put customers and associates first are still the lens through which we view every decision. So, running a responsible and sustainable company is foundational to our business. Doing our part creates value for all of our stakeholders.” Craig Menear, Former Chairman and CEO, Home Depot

CSR is about mental health.

Emotional wellness initiatives are a popular method for increasing employee engagement and work satisfaction – and many organizations are embracing them. Understanding how to manage stress on your team and educating your entire organization on mental health best practices is one important way to improve morale and make your workplace a safe, welcoming place for all employees.

Consider these statistics:

  • 91% of employees said their company’s purpose made them feel like they were in the right place amid global challenges, like the COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty.
  • 85% of employees believe companies have more responsibility than ever to create safe and healthy workspaces.

One important way to build a safe and inclusive workplace is to take strides to prevent workplace harassment. At a very minimum, effective training should encompass three areas:

    Employees should be able to identify victims and the legal criteria that establish unlawful harassment. They should also be able to discern instances of sexual harassment that fall short of unlawful harassment but is nevertheless unacceptable to the organization.
    Through real-life examples, employees should be able to recognize unlawful sexual harassment whether they find themselves victims, onlookers, supervisors or even those who may be behaving inappropriately. Training should also expose unconscious biases that could lead to unintended discriminatory behavior.
    Finally, the training should help those who feel they’re being harassed address the issue, from talking to the harasser, to seeking the help of a manager or HR, to understanding their right to seek redress with an outside agency, such as the EEOC. Further, those who observe inappropriate behavior should be encouraged to report it, knowing they are protected from retaliation.
CSR is about taking responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility efforts often revolve around the idea of “doing good.” How is your organization – and its employees, stakeholders, customers, and others – taking responsibility for the world around it? How does it hold itself accountable?

Consider these statistics:

  • 55% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that contribute to positive change.
  • 90% of consumers are more likely to trust and be loyal to socially responsible businesses compared to companies that don’t show these traits.

More and more of the organizations we work with at Skillsoft are focusing on the idea of taking responsibility and doing good.

For employees, a global code of conduct can help to:

  • Inform on-the-job decision-making when the “right thing” to do is not immediately clear
  • Enhance morale and keep employees loyal to a shared company culture and vision
  • Ensure that your organization conducts business in a consistently legal and ethical manner

For employers, a global code of conduct can help to:

  • Familiarize employees with the organization’s mission, vision, and values so everyone remains on the same page
  • Communicate expectations for behavior and encourage ongoing feedback
  • Ensure that managers across the company demonstrate consistent leadership styles and expectations of employees

Looking Forward

We are increasingly impressed at the level of transparency the companies in our sphere are offering to the world at large. Publishing an annual CSR report is an effective way to showcase your organization’s efforts, and to benchmark them from year to year.

How is your organization approaching its CSR efforts?