Have you ever wondered about how you can make your business more sustainable? The answer resides in ensuring corporate social responsibility (CSR), which refers to creating effective policies and programs that demonstrate economic, environmental, and social accountability. CSR requires establishing a framework to assess corporate reporting efforts, considering how much and how thoroughly a corporation openly discloses information regarding its sustainability performance. Here are 8 ways to improve business transparency:
1. Research Impact Disclosure Standards
The following links lead to several major organizations that are committed to helping businesses become more sustainable. They provide information regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria and disclosure standards. Looking into joining an alliance or membership with such organizations is the best way to learn proper CSR reporting metrics and practices.
- CDP Global
- Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
- International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- ISEAL Alliance
- Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
- Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
2. Create a Code of Business Conduct for Employees and Suppliers
This is a public document that outlines a corporation’s mission, core values, behavior ethics, priority principles, and compliance practices. This type of document enforces company goals while promoting a set of defined business standards. Employees and suppliers must respect such guidelines if they wish to continue working with the company.
3. Create an Environment, Health, and Safety Program
This is another public document that outlines occupational health and safety regulations, along with measures for environmental protection. The policy includes procedures to educate and train employees about assessing and minimizing risks, complying with laws involving human and environmental rights, conducting regular workplace inspections, as well as preventing and investigating any injuries.
4. Apply Due Diligence
Due Diligence refers to the processes that corporations use to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for any actual and potential negative impacts. A solid framework will outline specific strategies and timelines to ensure results and compliance, as opposed to merely stating goals. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers guidance and recommendations about conducting proper due diligence throughout supply chains.
5. Avoid Greenwashing
Many corporations put false or misleading environmental statements and advertisements on their websites, which is called greenwashing. As consumers are highly interested in eco-friendly products, some companies may resort to lying about their business to maintain a good reputation. However, there are ways to recognize such tactics. An organization called TerraChoice, since acquired by an organization called UL, categorized seven sins of greenwashing: Hidden Trade-Off, No Proof, Vagueness, Worshipping False Labels, Irrelevance, Lesser of Two Evils, and Fibbing.
6. Get Certification
Third-party certifications can objectively support corporate reporting disclosures, further helping the reputation of a corporation by validating the quality of their performance through regular auditing. For instance, environmental claims can be supported by eco-label certification. The following links lead to some of the most trustworthy eco-labels in Canada.
- B Corp
- Canada Organic
- CSA Group
- EcoLogo Environmental Choice
- ENERGY STAR
- Fairtrade Canada
- Forest Stewardship Council
- Marine Stewardship Council
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The eco-labelling industry lacks an overarching regulatory system, making it difficult to assess the credibility of some third-party organizations. The credibility of certifications can be evaluated through analyzing their practices regarding their disclosure of knowledgeable objectives, their policies and code of conduct rules, their plans to monitor supply chain impacts, and their results from the use of independent auditing groups to assess compliance. The following links lead to organizations that are committed to assessing eco-label certifications.
7. Donate and Invest in a Cause
A big part of CSR includes helping the community. Businesses should consider their mission and provide donations to non-profit organizations that specialize in the same cause, as well as invest in other companies that have positive social and environmental impacts. Companies can also create programs to help people, such as offering volunteering or internship opportunities.
8. Use Social Media
Effective communication can help a business establish a strong brand identity. Clearly voicing a mission and frequently posting information allows a company to engage with the public and to earn support. No matter the field, all businesses should create content that demonstrates social, environmental, and economic awareness, committing to sustainable practices.
Annual Corporate Social Responsibility Documents
Yearly CSR reports publicly summarize approaches to accumulating and assessing information about impacts that affect sustainability. Many reports highlight data that demonstrates significant progress toward sustainability goals. However, more effort needs to be made in terms of overall business transparency. Companies should be open about the areas that still require improvement within such reports, outlining specific plans to confront any issues. The business world needs to be honest about its current status in terms of accomplishing positive societal, environmental, and economic change. The key to achieving sustainability is accountability.