Companies thinking about their corporate responsibility strategy have to think also about their business strategy. Responsibility strategy is not working as a stand alone objective, but more as integrated strategy. One can define, the more innovative your corporate responsibility strategy is, the better business strategy you have. And vice versa.

See the 5 step action plan for innovative responsibility strategy:

1. Engage with your stakeholders: This is one of the basic questions you have. Defining your business is sometimes hard if you think that the basic business rules and segments are not working any more. Technology has enabled and changed so many industry sectors like media, telecom, forest, retail, music…you name it. Positioning, segmenting and searching for new business areas.

Materiality analysis is one of the key elements in the early steps of responsibility strategy. Benchmarking new trends and technology innovations are examples of risk management by the management. It is about innovative product development, new markets and opportunities.

One of the interesting & innovative new product launches has been the Lego (www.lego.com) 3D printing case. The Danish toy company was struggling with the problem of time: children like to spend more time in internet than anything else and this is a problem for their parents.The answer was 3D printing: the company made a digital effort to allow customers make their own digital models of buildings and castles and enabled this also in 3D printing. Lego wanted to solve the time problem and let users play in digital world but also with basic brics. This service was launced in summer in the US.

2. How about your roadmap, targets and KPIs? Your company has values and mission. How to get there and taking also environmental, social and financial aspects along? Set targets and make adjustments along the way. You need short and long term targets for value creation and for shared value. Remember also the difference between relative and absolute targets.

This shared value means that your company can also have a positive impact in your society in general. It is important that you notice that this is about your business and how it can be integrated for social good. For example many companies have turned into education and helping thus others to understand a business sector or service.

One example is the German software company SAP (www.sap.com), which has run several courses to educate people to understand the software business but also the company products. This education aspect is also embedded in several leading universities like Harvard and Stanford. Another example is Microsoft(www.microsoft.com) with its Innovation Centers. These provide Mircrosoft education and products for different stakeholders globally.

This overall value mapping takes into account the different aspects of internal and external stakeholders and define the corporate responsibility strategy value added for each group.

3. Execute your strategy: Implementing your corporate responsibility strategy is a marathon not a journey. This Cradle to Cradle or lifecycle thinking is not a campaign, it is about your business and margins. It is about your competitive edge and license to make business in the future.

For CEOs corporate responsibility is important while they think it has huge impact in brand, trust and reputation (69%). Secondly CEOs think it has impact in potential revenue growth (49%) and customer demand (47%). And it can have positive impact in employer branding (38%) and motivation (41%). This survey was done by Accenture in 2013.

4. Communications & Marketing: Good brands can handle crisis better, this is known. But you need communications and marketing strategy which implement these messages to different stakeholders in order to enhance your visibility, attract talent and improve brand value.

One of the key elements in this strategic communication is how well the company can explain and follow the impacts of the products and be part of the circular economy. It is good to pay attention to issue management in your business sector.

Global initiatives like Better Cotton Initiatives by co-founders Ikea and WWF aim to use less water and chemicals and provide better earnings and social benefits for farmers in India and Pakistan. According to the IKEA press release, the company uses 0,6 % of the global cotton production every year and cotton in included in 30 % of the group´s products.

5. Feedback & improvements: Corporate responsibility is about change and risk management and it is like quality checks all the way.

To define an innovative corporate responsibility strategy needs good homework, analytics and data management. The bigger the company the more important data management is. Cloud computing or green cloud help companies in their journey to be part of the circular economy.

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