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Community engagement is one of the key pillars of corporate social responsibility (CSR), alongside the concern with the workplace, the marketplace and the environment. Many people have written about the benefits of CSR to the companies that engage in it, but there is less said about the real-world good it does. Previously we talked about the impact of CSR on employees and customers. Today we would like to talk about the effects that CSR can have on your community and the environment.

Community Benefits of CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility has very real impacts on the local community. Encouraging employees to volunteer (with benefits such as VTO) helps local non-profits and forges strong bonds between your company and those helped. Your employees can also bring back information on local needs and potential projects which can assist even further.

Sponsoring a local sports team helps young people and brings families together. So can sponsoring clean-up events at local landmarks or vacant lots. Many places have local community gardens that offer opportunities ranging from purchasing produce to direct sponsorship. 

A local employer who takes an active interest in the community is also a source of civic pride. In a similar way, the positive effect of CSR on employee morale and retention can help create a more stable community and local tax base. 

Taking a leadership role in helping the community can also inspire other local businesses, especially when they see the tangible and intangible benefits for your company. Doing well by doing good can be contagious, which amplifies your own efforts.

You can also amplify your CSR through partnerships with local government. Your corporate sustainability work can reduce the burden on community landfills and water treatment systems. You can work with local governments to advance community projects such as repairs to local facilities or building low-income housing.

All these efforts can provide real-world benefits to your community, and to your company.

Environmental Benefits of CSR

We know that sustainable business practices and reducing consumption of energy and water help our environment, but it is difficult to measure the effect of a single company, whether positive or negative. This was a challenge in the earliest days of the environmental movement, when polluting companies tried to blame their environmental damage on other nearby companies, and it remains challenging today.

The best practice, then, is to measure your own efforts using one of several standards, such as Triple Bottom Line accounting, Benefits Corporation certification, or the Global Reporting Initiative. A major advantage of this approach is the ability to measure your improvement over time and to learn what works for your company and what does not.  

Your business can become a leader in sustainable practices in your local community, which can help other businesses reach sustainability goals. Over the long term, achieving these goals benefits everyone in your community and beyond.