For achieving sustainability in leadership by corporates in the market, strategic CSR policies and their implementation is a great tool which can ensure long term profitability and maximum social welfare alongside mastery in leadership sustainability. But the very starting of this long term project is to bring in alignment plans and policies of management as well as the actions of the employees. CSR managers do play a vital role in the implementation and sustainment of such CSR projects. Hence specifications of everyone’s role and monitoring to adhere to them is the key factor for sustainability in leadership.
If we consider CSR as a car then leadership acts as a driver which has complete control over the car and the performance of which is largely dependent on how it is being operated. Taking up the initiatives of CSR, their sustainability and the results expected are largely dependent on the leader taking up the initiative, CSR managers, in most of the cases. Even if the person does not hold such a position, his leadership skill is the key factor in the accomplishment of the CSR goals. Thus the CSR and leadership skills are two closely related terms which go side by side in the long term sustainability of the organizations’ CSR initiatives.
In last two decades significant change has been noticed in the rise of the graph of CSR expenditure and the level of social change brought through it but still, the biggest problem faced by corporates is the sustainability in these CSR and leadership projects. This can be proved with the critical study of the survey conducted in 2013 in which 54 CSR managers, heading CSR department, in German multinational companies were interviewed about their CSR and leadership goals what are the challenges they face in the implementation of these projects. Companies like Bayer, BMW and SAP were included in the study and corporates were even asked about their own preferred strategies which they find most suitable for bringing organizational changes. This study is found to be still highly relevant when it was cross-checked by the current practitioners. The result of this study clearly revealed that sustainability of CSR and leadership projects are still the sustainable problem faced by most of the corporates.
The survey further revealed that most of the top-level managers and CEOs were in favour of the implementation of sustainable CSR leadership projects and even believe in its necessity. But all the loopholes were found at middle-level managers who were although again and again pitched by CSR heads to participate in new CSR initiatives but they remained indifferent due to the reasons like lack of motivation and interest etc. Another most common answer was that CSR plans don’t go in alignment with their financial plans and so are out of their to-do list.
In order to properly implement the CSR initiatives and overcome the resistance in bringing change in the organization through leadership plans, four tactics were being suggested at the end of the study. These tactics or slight variations of these were discussed by most of the managers interviewed and is highly recommended by all of them. The concept of ‘micro CSR’ which defines the role of individuals in the implementation of CSR initiatives is being found to be very relevant and useful in today’s scenario. These observations are very important for the effective achievement of CSR goals and having a sound leadership skills development status of leaders in an organization.
Construct the network of the internal helping-group
It is believed that a network of employees who has the complete behavioural knowledge of the company and has a good liaising with you is very important to get the attention of others towards the ongoing or upcoming CSR projects and establish the sustainability in CSR leadership activities through flagship projects. Pilot projects should be developed with the help of top managers witch increases the involvement of employees in these activities and sustainability can be assured. The orientation of these projects should be made clear to raise the level of mobilising the efforts of the employees towards it. It is a key factor of leadership to manage the internal environment of the organization and thus by doing so success rate of CSR projects can be expected to raise high.
Make Sustainability Resonate
The idea of sustainability in CSR and leadership should become an integral part of the daily business routine of the employees so that the sustainability is not been taken as a separate initiative or activity but is observed as the part of normal business strategy. Each and every employee of the organization regardless of his or her designation or work should be clearly explained and trained how to bring in the sustainability in their field of work and make it so thoroughly that it becomes a habit of looking at organizational objectives and plans with the glasses of sustainability.
The interview also boiled down to the point that instead of making small individual initiatives (for a particular small group of employees) the objective of the company as a whole, it should be applied on those individual only as their responsibility and should be taken care by that particular group. For example, workers working in the factory must be educated to take responsibility of them and their co-workers for the purpose of safety while handling hazardous materials, rather than making it an initiative for the whole organization.
Several departments of the organizations like HR, sales and marketing etc were also interviewed in the study for finding out their challenges with the implementation of sustainability concept. Solutions to overcome these challenges were put forward so as to merge the stronger CSR application with their departmental goals like for an engineering department how they can take care environment and pollution as their CSR initiative.
Identification of Appropriate Incentives
One of the core findings of the study was to look at the CSR from the eyes of each individual employee as each individual has a different way of looking at CSR and sustainability and CSR managers need to invest time and effort in the list of each one’s perception of sustainability. Till the time everyone’s expectation with CSR is not given attention to we can’t expect maximum participation of employees in CSR initiatives. This also brings the leadership skills of the CSR managers to test as to how are they able to convince the employees to be a part of sustainability movement. They will also have to bridge the gap between employees and middle-level managers through regular conversation and building a long-standing relationship which is the key force for employees to be part of the change.
By presenting the CSR initiatives as a long term profitable business venture and the reputation amplifier in the market, it is considerably easy to convince those employees with strong financial background or with huge corporate knowledge. These arguments are also relevant to employees looking for strong and long term organizational holdings.
Internal and External Benchmarking Must be Used
Setting up benchmarks within and outside the organization is important so as to create an environment of competition and give everyone a clear sight of where one has to reach.
Hitting of external benchmarks is another way of pitching sustainability in the organization. What is more interesting about this is with the sense of not being lagged behind by competitors, departments like marketing and HR do also gear-up their pace in sustainability.
To conclude it can be said that even if an organization is setting up a separate department and appointing a manager for CSR initiatives, he will be the one who will face most of the resistance in the organization and he will be required to apply some critical strategies to deal with the anti-force and bring everyone’s interest on the same ground. CSR is a task which can only be achieved through cooperation and strategic leadership policies.