Bandwidth » CSR http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 A Natural Marriage – CSR and Social Web http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/04/19/a-natural-marriage-csr-and-social-web/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/04/19/a-natural-marriage-csr-and-social-web/#comments Mon, 19 Apr 2010 21:49:16 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7384401

The Conference Board of Canada is the matchmaker in a sensible marriage of two closely related concepts -- corporate responsibility and social media.

A Conference Board event called CSR and Social Media is taking place in Toronto on May 13th. (I am the conference chair, but this is not about shilling for it. But do come.) I wanted to explain why I think a discussion of these two conjoint ideas just makes sense, and in any case the post will likely metamorphose into my introductory remarks.

Three ideas make the marriage of corporate responsibility and the social web work:

  • A readiness to identify, work with and listen to stakeholders should be at the core of corporate social responsibility strategies within organizations if they are to be influential, believed and trusted. Organizations which leave stakeholders out of their responsibility planning, actions and reporting are missing the most important program "element" . . . people who care about, can affect or can be affected by their actions.
  • The social web exists because people are, well, social. They will choose social exchange platforms in which they are listened to, have the possibility to question and observe, and have the potential to contribute. People become stakeholders of the conversations or dialogues (they're different these two, but that's for another more philosophical day) in which they participate.
  • The harmony of CSR and the social web around what I guess you could call 'people dependency' opens up interesting and worthy new ways to gather information and opinion about CSR performance (point of view mapping, open performance data rooms and online co-development of evaluation models) as well as to report on -- and evaluate -- progress on achieving targets and goals through quarterly online reporting on performance indicators which are open for comment (see Timberland).

There. . . I have set my expectations for what I hope at least some of the speakers will address. If they don't, I get 15 minutes at the end of the conference to make my case anyway.

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The Conference Board of Canada is the matchmaker in a sensible marriage of two closely related concepts — corporate responsibility and social media.

A Conference Board event called CSR and Social Media is taking place in Toronto on May 13th. (I am the conference chair, but this is not about shilling for it. But do come.) I wanted to explain why I think a discussion of these two conjoint ideas just makes sense, and in any case the post will likely metamorphose into my introductory remarks.

Three ideas make the marriage of corporate responsibility and the social web work:

  • A readiness to identify, work with and listen to stakeholders should be at the core of corporate social responsibility strategies within organizations if they are to be influential, believed and trusted. Organizations which leave stakeholders out of their responsibility planning, actions and reporting are missing the most important program “element” . . . people who care about, can affect or can be affected by their actions.
  • The social web exists because people are, well, social. They will choose social exchange platforms in which they are listened to, have the possibility to question and observe, and have the potential to contribute. People become stakeholders of the conversations or dialogues (they’re different these two, but that’s for another more philosophical day) in which they participate.
  • The harmony of CSR and the social web around what I guess you could call ‘people dependency’ opens up interesting and worthy new ways to gather information and opinion about CSR performance (point of view mapping, open performance data rooms and online co-development of evaluation models) as well as to report on — and evaluate — progress on achieving targets and goals through quarterly online reporting on performance indicators which are open for comment (see Timberland).

There. . . I have set my expectations for what I hope at least some of the speakers will address. If they don’t, I get 15 minutes at the end of the conference to make my case anyway.

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CSR and Social Media http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/20/csr-and-social-media/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/20/csr-and-social-media/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2009 12:35:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5827054 Companies have an ambivalent relationship with corporate social responsibility. To the extent that CSR involves commitment to compliance, environmental targets, strategic philanthropy, annual reporting and some level of stakeholder engagement, it is comfortable or at least acceptable as a risk mitigation strategy.

However, most CSR programs are starved of what Canadian Business For Social Responsibility (CBSR) calls the truly 'transformational', what I like to think of as the broader promises for accountable behaviour, transparency, community-building and dialogue (the "art of thinking together" - William Issacs). This is not to say this is for every company either easy or even desirable. Some industries and service sectors, whose products simply use up non-renewable resources, will never achieve anything even close to social assent.

Here's one idea though for companies who want to do a little more than the routine CSR hygiene activities: Explore the possibility that people may want to talk with you about what you are doing. The most productive way of doing that today is through social media. Although the risk-benefit ratio is a little higher than, say, hand-picking a stakeholder advisory panel to advise on your CSR report, the upside of creating or, better, joining social media platforms -- in knowledge-gained and friends made -- is worth it.

Some recent writings that throw a little light on what's possible:

  • At 'Reimaging CSR', Jessica Stannard-Friel provides a summary of recent discussion about the part that a social media strategy can play in ratcheting up the impact of CSR in organizations. Ms Stannard-Friel herself is an observant commenter on CSR trends.
  • An article in Fast Company looks at how an American bank is using crowdsourcing to select the beneficiaries of its strategic philanthropy program.
  • Melissa Rowley at Mashable gives three good reasons for using social media as part of a company's CSR program . . . "getting to know your constituents", "influencing customers as citizens", and "getting your good work out there".
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Companies have an ambivalent relationship with corporate social responsibility. To the extent that CSR involves commitment to compliance, environmental targets, strategic philanthropy, annual reporting and some level of stakeholder engagement, it is comfortable or at least acceptable as a risk mitigation strategy.

However, most CSR programs are starved of what Canadian Business For Social Responsibility (CBSR) calls the truly ‘transformational’, what I like to think of as the broader promises for accountable behaviour, transparency, community-building and dialogue (the “art of thinking together” – William Issacs). This is not to say this is for every company either easy or even desirable. Some industries and service sectors, whose products simply use up non-renewable resources, will never achieve anything even close to social assent.

Here’s one idea though for companies who want to do a little more than the routine CSR hygiene activities: Explore the possibility that people may want to talk with you about what you are doing. The most productive way of doing that today is through social media. Although the risk-benefit ratio is a little higher than, say, hand-picking a stakeholder advisory panel to advise on your CSR report, the upside of creating or, better, joining social media platforms — in knowledge-gained and friends made — is worth it.

Some recent writings that throw a little light on what’s possible:

  • At ‘Reimaging CSR’, Jessica Stannard-Friel provides a summary of recent discussion about the part that a social media strategy can play in ratcheting up the impact of CSR in organizations. Ms Stannard-Friel herself is an observant commenter on CSR trends.
  • An article in Fast Company looks at how an American bank is using crowdsourcing to select the beneficiaries of its strategic philanthropy program.
  • Melissa Rowley at Mashable gives three good reasons for using social media as part of a company’s CSR program . . . “getting to know your constituents”, “influencing customers as citizens”, and “getting your good work out there”.
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