Planting Corporate Seeds For Social Good: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) And Social Work

What is CSR?

A company’s way of managing business processes to produce a positive impact on society and to give back to the people and communities that support it.

CSR is also known as:

  • Corporate Citizenship
  • Responsible Business
  • Sustainable Responsible Business

Corporate Sustainability

A progress report, published by auditing firm KPMG and The Economist in 2011, finds that nearly 50 percent of executives surveyed believe that sustainability programs will contribute to their bottom lines.

Example: Starbucks and the Ethos Water Fund

Every time Starbucks customers purchase a bottle of Ethos Water, a 5-cent contribution is made to the Ethos Water Fund, which supports water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in water-stressed countries.

CSR expands a corporation’s accountability to include not just shareholders, but stakeholders.

Stakeholders can include:

  • Customers
  • Communities
  • Governments
  • Media
  • Employees
  • NGOs
  • Suppliers
  • Competitors

CSR can include efforts related to:

  • Sustainability
  • Environmental protection
  • Public safety
  • Community development
  • Philanthropy
  • Social education
  • Diversity
  • Wellness

Social Workers In Business Environments

Social Workers have unique opportunities in business settings:

  • Assisting individual workers with issues of stress, mental health, addiction and caregiving roles at home.
  • Implementing wellness and stress management programs.
  • Advocating on behalf of employees within the corporation regarding personal issues, trauma, work-life balance or concerns like downsizing layoffs.
  • Developing philanthropic, community development and volunteer programs for corporations to engage their community.
  • Implementing diversity programs at the workplace.

Social Workers Duties In Traditional Settings

  • Identify those who need help
  • Develop programs to improve clients’ wellbeing
  • Advocate for clients
  • Assist clients in connecting with resources
  • Follow up with clients to gauge improvement

Social Workers Duties In Business Settings

  • Target efforts at those who would most benefit (e.g. identifying water-stressed communities for the Ethos Water Fund)
  • Create strategies to engage communities, work with nonprofits to support important causes or support employee well-being
  • Advocate for employees of corporation
  • Connect employees to better resources
  • Measure success of corporate campaigns (e.g. number of people helped)

Issues Frequently Addressed By Both Social Workers And CSR Efforts

  • Physical and mental health care and addiction support
  • Poverty
  • Disaster relief
  • Domestic violence
  • Volunteering
  • Homelessness
  • Hunger
  • Education
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • LGBT rights
  • Civil rights
  • Conservation

CSR In Action

Programs Started By Corporations

Target’s Bullseye Gives program

  • $3 million in donations
  • Used voting via Facebook to allocate funds to 10 non-profits, including Feeding America, the Salvation Army and the Parent Teacher Association
  • Spread awareness through social media

Pepsi’s Refresh project

  • $20 million in grants
  • Crowdsourced projects related to health, the environment, education and more
  • Allowed consumers to vote on which received funding

Friends of Toms

  • Non-profit subsidiary of TOMS, the retail shoe, clothing and eyewear company
  • Donates one pair of shoes for each pair sold
  • Donates partial profits from eyewear sales to save or restore the vision of people in developing countries

Nonprofit Organizations Sponsored By Corporations

Habitat For Humanity

Dedicated to building and repairing homes for those who lack adequate shelter

Key Corporate Partners:
  • Bank of America
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • Lowe’s
  • Schneider Electric
  • Whirlpool
  • Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
  • Citi Foundation
  • The Home Depot Foundation
  • Nissan
  • Wells Fargo
  • Yale
  • Valspar

No Kid Hungry

Dedicated to connecting children with nutritious food and educating families on healthy cooking

Core Corporate Partners:
  • Food Network
  • ConAgra Food Foundation
  • Walmart



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