Building a collaborate CSR strategy

Building a collaborate CSR strategy

Wed 07 Oct 2020

Often regarded as a tedious, even futile experience, materiality analysis is for some people like a can of worms that they won’t be able to control once they venture to open it.This is especially true with collecting external stakeholder expectations, one of the main components of this method of analysis. 

Whether it’s to comply with requirements to publish non-financial data or to voluntarily build a CSR momentum, nowadays, identifying your non-financial issues using a materiality analysis is one of the crucial prerequisites in defining your CSR strategy. One question you need to ask yourself is: how can you ensure that everyone adheres to the initiative and that it brings added value to the relationship you’ve built with your stakeholders? 

However, contrary to popular belief, and because of its risk management and reduction approach, materiality analysis very often produces the opposite effect. First, because this method is based on dialogue, discussion and collaboration with the different stakeholders. Secondly, because, in terms of reputation, an eventual claim by a stakeholder against the company would necessarily have direct and indirect financial costs that could greatly exceed the investment in theCSR initiative. This gives rise to another question: how can you safeguard your initiative while maintaining a meaningful CSR strategy?

Collaboratively building a CSR strategy, a fundamental paradigm shift

Collecting and analyzing the expectations of an organization’s different stakeholders have up to now relied on several information channels: studying internal barometers or customer satisfaction questionnaires, questionnaires sent out to all stakeholders, hand-picked interviews using a stakeholder map, etc. With this same unilateral approach, the CSR strategy established was used to meet everyone’s needs, point-by-point, based on the priority levels of the issues identified. 

Before, we “did it for,” whereas now we “do it with.” We’ve moved from a consultancy approach to a collective approach based on breaking down barriers, sharing and meeting challenges head-on so that this synergy results in a true appreciation of the benefits of the CSR initiative.

Nowadays, real change and transformation need to take place, and, even though the most direct path may at first glance seem the most obvious one, it’s rarely the case. Because, in fact, 70% of projects do not reach their initial target (cf. L’Erreur de Descartes, Antonio Damasio, 1995).

To this end, three errors should be avoided if the goal is to get your company’s stakeholders committed to an increasingly responsible process:

  • Downplaying the impact of your activities (this creates distrust).
  • Locking your strategy (stakeholders would just be spectators).
  • Streamlining continuously.

Conversely, to safeguard and successfully carry out your project, it’s important to:

  • be transparent and honest about your own priorities and room for improvement while taking on the extraordinary aspect of your CSR strategy.
  • choose to explore emotions rather than simply trying to stir up enthusiasm.
  • encourage action, create conditions and opportunities that enable people to walk the talk.

Communication cannot be the only way in! Collaboratively building a strategy with all stakeholders is a method with great potential that is still too often underestimated.

… but also — and most importantly — a high-value-added operation 

‘Doing with’ your stakeholders won’t necessarily translate into ‘doing more‘but rather ‘doing differently‘ or ‘doing better’ together, thanks to the combination of CSR related skills and putting great minds together.

Collecting and analysing stakeholders’ expectations accounts for a considerable share of the budget when support is provided in the design of a CSR strategy. Rather than reserving this already tight budget allowance for individual interviews which are enriching, but limited, we believe in using it as a tool for collaboratively working with and facilitating your stakeholder community. 

Counter to traditional methodologies, betting on leveraging collective intelligence for the benefit of the project seems to be the preferred solution. And the result?

  • A better level of adoption of the strategy, its issues and objectives by stakeholders.
  • The emergence of a collective commitment to the action plan or even actual involvement.
  • Guaranteed credibility and security for the initiative and publications.

Formerly a compulsory exercise, the CSR strategy creates meaning for teams and value for companies, mainly through the pooling of skills and resources inherent in collaborative work. This exercise can, of course, be facilitated by the support of an expert who, thanks to their experience and proven technical skills, would recommend a path to take and would take part in implementing a strategy whose results could very well exceed the company’s expectations. 

If you’re looking to build a CSR strategy but not sure where to start, or want to talk through some of your CSR plans, contact us below and we’d be happy to have a conversation.