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Four areas to incorporate corporate responsibility into your digital strategy

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) continues to grow in importance and popularity as companies look to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and respond to our rapidly evolving corporate culture. Despite common misconception, CSR, also referred to as environmental, social and governance (ESG), initiatives should not be limited to organizations or teams that manufacture or produce goods. CSR initiatives are rapidly being implemented across all industries including technology, financial services and healthcare. As more and more of our remote-based work becomes reliant on the internet and technology, now is the time to consider integrating formal CSR strategies and practices into your business.

What areas can easily have an impact on CDR?

To better understand CSR, one should examine the value of Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR). CDR applies corporate social responsibility concepts to an organization’s process of creating and/or operating digital technology and data. When creating a CDR strategy, companies should consider four aspects: social, economic, environmental and technological.

Social: From data security to socially conscious partners

The social aspect considers the relationship between technology and your stakeholders. This includes your employees, customers, end users and greater community. For example, if your company is storing personal data about customers or potential candidates, what practices are in place to make sure that data remains private? How do you ensure equal representation of gender, ethnicity, race, ability and more within your social media and web presence? It’s important to think through these scenarios, document guidelines and make them available for all employees to follow. The social aspect may also include using digital technology to make a positive social impact such as creating tools to help track and measure aspects of your CSR strategy from supplier codes of conduct to philanthropic partnerships.

Studies show brands with a purpose set on improving our quality of life outperform the stock market by 120% (2).

Economic: From fair compensation to reusable products

The economic aspect focuses on financial impacts for your technology choices and operations. Internally, evaluate your company’s compensation model to ensure employees and sub-contractors are paid a fair wage and offered benefits. Externally, consider how your e-commerce strategy could tie into CDR to lower costs through more efficient design and operation. The phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” applies in the digital world, too. As much as possible, try to design and develop products to be reusable for additional projects. You will save time and money by not having to start from scratch each time.

Environmental: From carbon footprints to efficient online experiences

The environmental aspect relates to the ecological impact of technology. This includes hardware disposal, energy efficiency and consumption and measuring the carbon footprint of technology use. At 1.6 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions (and rising), the internet contributes more to climate change than most countries (3). Increase your products’ efficiency by optimizing performance and making the user experience quick and easy. Find ways to donate and/or recycle equipment, and when possible, purchase refurbished hardware. Calculate your company’s carbon footprint and actively seek ways to reduce it by limiting outputs and purchasing carbon offsets.

89% of executives say companies that lead with purpose have a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace (4).

Technological: From accessibility to biases

The last aspect, technological, relates to security, inclusivity and accessibility of digital technology. Extend your cultural policies on diversity and inclusion to your digital practices. Are your products accessible for all stakeholders regardless of their ability or socioeconomic status? Are proper security measures put in place? If using automated intelligence (AI) algorithms, do they account for biases? If your business does not account for these items, they could be missing valuable opportunities to connect with employees and their target market.

What are the benefits to implementing CDR?

As these four areas suggest, implementing a CDR strategy is not one individual or department’s job. A holistic view needs to be integrated into everyone’s work and make sense with your company’s strategy. By creating an authentic strategy and involving all stakeholders, you can increase engagement both internally and externally, reduce costs and help attract and retain the best talent and increase customer loyalty.

Like all change, adopting this mindset will take some time. Baker Tilly professionals can help businesses ensure their communications meet accessibility compliance, designed user experiences for optimized efficiency, implemented cyber security controls within systems and continue to help business leaders understand and improve their customer experience.

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