CSR has made much progress in the last few years, overcoming a number of traditional dichotomies (work-health, economic growth-care for the environment, financial profit-social rights); nevertheless, it has not managed to prevent the simultaneous existence of responsible messages and unsustainable conduct: serious crises that cause severe reputational damage are constantly reported in the media.
The problem lies in the lack of a widespread responsibility culture: sustainability reports and disclosures are not enough, nor are philanthropic and economic aid projects, even corporate foundations have no real role if they have no impact on the engagement and empowerment of direct and indirect interlocutors in making socially responsible decisions.
This is the only way to make a difference and serve society, and simultaneously achieve economic and social benefits.
This weak link of the chain is where communication can and must play a strategic role, instead of simply providing tactical support. Amapola uses a FIND-LIVE-ENGAGE approach to support businesses that want to operate in a responsible manner:
- FIND – the first step is a detailed analysis of the company ID, focusing on who the organisation really is rather than on who it thinks it is. This often highlights a gap between CSR activities and the core business (for example: banks that print their forms on recycled paper but fail to monitor regulatory compliance and put their customers’ savings at risk…);
- LIVE – the objective here is to establish a relationship between the purpose of the core business and the local community’s social needs by bringing corporate executives, employees, no-profit organisations and social groups together as part of a co-development and co-empowermentapproach with respect to goals and tools;
- ENGAGE – communicate every stage in the social innovation process through the voices of its various protagonists, thus enhancing their awareness of participating in an original educational experience. This helps spread good practices and outcomes and “broadens” the range of potential beneficiaries of social action.
This type of strategic approach goes beyond traditional CSR and makes operating tools easier to implement: audits, multi-stakeholder focus groups and panels, suggestion boxes, special newsletters and informal meetings, shared reporting, storytelling and social platforms. The bottom line is: act, act effectively and tell people about it.
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