Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into Corporate Compliance Programs

Integrating corporate social responsibility ("CSR") into compliance structures and processes can be critical to ensuring a company’s CSR commitments are communicated and acted upon. Only then can a company reap the intended benefits of a voluntary commitment, whether those benefits are legal, reputational, or operational. Ideally, CSR should be integrated into training, learning, report, and auditing vertically and horizontally across a company.

In an article in the upcoming edition of Natural Gas & Electricity, I note that:

It is a mistake… to confuse the aspirational nature of many CSR commitments for unattainable goals, and a mistake to believe that those commitments cannot be broken down into concrete deliverables, procedures, and policies for use in achieving compliance. In fact, it is the process of converting a CSR standard into tangible goals with an aspirational context, and the dialogue and broad thinking that this process requires, which can be the driver of successful implementation of the standard.

In order to integrate aspirational commitments into concrete compliance targets, companies should establish what those commitments will require on a daily basis for the various business units and departments. In the article, I suggest that companies review the following steps as part of this exercise:

  1. Articulate the standard.
  2. Articulate the company commitment.
  3. Identify existing complementary commitments or standards that may impact implementation.
  4. Create a working group to identify operational goals.
  5. Identify relationships (e.g., contractor, supplier, JV partner, host government) potentially impacted by implementation of standard.
  6. Articulate operational goals for each commitment.
  7. Identify sources of information regarding risks and sources of standards.
  8. Identify key implementation steps for each standard.
  9. Identify training, reporting and auditing requirements.
  10. Identify Key Performance Indicators ("KPIs") for each standard (group by group as appropriate).

Ultimately, transforming aspirational commitments into concrete performance goals is fundamental to achieving real improvements in the company’s operations and the impacts of those operations on corporate stakeholders.

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