One of the common queries we receive at Corporate Citizenship is on how to write a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Sustainability Policy. Some people are looking for a Corporate Responsibility policy template. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist! Whilst there are samples/examples available of how other companies have written a CR statement, the best approach is to create a policy of your own. No two companies are the same, and so no two Corporate Responsibility policies should be the same.
However, there are some simple steps you can follow. Any Sustainability or Corporate Responsibility policy should begin with the organisation. It should consider your purpose and core operations, values and culture. This will create a policy statement that is unique.
A Guide to the CR Policy Statement – not a template!
The following steps are not intended to be a template. Instead, they should be thought of as a guide in putting together your CR Policy Statement:
- Who is the policy for? Before you start, you must be clear: is the policy for employees to follow day-to-day, or for external stakeholders to understand the business?
- What does the business do? Begin with a description of the company’s purpose, operations and geography.
- What scope is included? For example, does it apply to just one part of the business, or all operating companies anywhere in the world?
- What does the company believe in? Unless the organisation has something clear and compelling to say on what it stands for, the statement will end up being dull and generic.
- What standards have been consulted in preparing the policy? Global best practice guidelines and standards can help to inform relevant areas, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) or Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
- What other supporting documents sit alongside the CR policy? Referencing other codes, strategies or implementation manuals can ensure readers seeking extra information are guided towards them.
- How will the policy be implemented? A policy is only as good as its implementation. Having a great policy means very little if it’s not executed consistently.
- How will progress to monitored? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are important for measurement and evaluation. The policy needs to be transparent about how progress will be monitored and evaluated over time.
Benchmarking the CR Policy
When producing a Corporate Responsibility Policy, benchmarking against peers and best practice standards can shed light on the issues to include. This is particularly important to identify what topics to include that are relevant to your sector. Benchmarking the CR policy can also ensure that your organisation has the right level of ambition amongst peers.
Ultimately there is no template to follow. A sample of how other companies have written their Corporate Responsibility Policies can be found from a quick internet search. But whilst there are examples from other companies (and even some attempts at a template) the best approach is to create an authentic CR Policy designed for your organisation.
Of course, a Corporate Responsibility policy is only one part of a company’s responsibility and sustainability priorities. Although it’s often the first step, it should form part of a strategy for addressing the issues. Policies and processes then flow from the strategy and ensure that implementation delivers to agreed business aims.
If you’d to discuss how Corporate Citizenship can help you to develop a CR policy, please email email@example.com
Richard Hardyment is a Director at Corporate Citizenship.