Sustainability and CSR

“Corporate Social Responsibility” or CSR for short is the social responsibility of companies in the sense of sustainable management.

In practice, many companies use the terms CSR and sustainability largely synonymously. Some companies speak of a sustainability strategy and sustainability report, others of a CSR strategy and CSR report. In theory, however, CSR as a concept is narrower than sustainability: CSR refers to the specific contribution that companies make to sustainable management, to sustainability.

For some years now, many companies have also often used the term Corporate Responsibility (CR) as a synonym for CSR. Some authors emphasize the economic dimension of sustainability and corporate governance issues more strongly in the CR concept than in CSR, others prefer CR to avoid a misunderstanding: Because the “social” in CSR is often misunderstood as “social” in German and CSR is wrongly interpreted as a concept that only aims at the social dimension of corporate sustainability. Accordingly, the term corporate responsibility has been used more frequently in corporate practice in Germany in recent years than CSR.

Corporate citizenship, on the other hand, only refers to the commitment that goes beyond the actual business activity of a company and thus includes the area of the charitable commitment of the companies. Corporate citizenship is essentially limited to sponsorship, donations and foundation activities.

Not without core business

The implementation of CSR differs from company to company: CSR activities are different in a manufacturing company than in retail, the listed group faces different challenges than the family-run medium-sized company with roots in the region.

One thing is common to all those who successfully implement CSR in the company: without a clear reference to their own business activities, it is not possible. Companies that see their CSR activities as an “add-on”, as an additional service that has nothing to do with the business model and the core business processes, fall short. Whether occupational safety, employee satisfaction, energy efficiency or minimum standards in the supply chain – many CSR fields of action are decisive for entrepreneurial success.

In summary

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that provides companies with a basis for voluntarily integrating social and environmental concerns into their business activities and into the interactions with interest groups.

The primary benefit for a company is to:

  • implement the concept of sustainable development in operational activities,
  • to systematically integrate and further develop the company’s social commitment to its employees and the local community and the environment into its management,
  • to maintain and expand the reputation of the company,
  • minimize risks and
  • ensure the long-term viability of the company.

With the help of such a csr management solution, the company can prove to interested parties (for example, employees of the company, investors, residents, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), consumers and authorities),

  • that there is a voluntary commitment on the part of management to comply with the provisions laid down in the company’s policy and objectives. This voluntary commitment also includes legal, international and official provisions as well as company-specific goals that go beyond this.
  • that the prevention of errors and not their correction is in the foreground.


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