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Ideas for corporate social responsibility

5-minute read

Every member of the community can choose to behave in an altruistic, respectful and empathetic way – and that includes businesses. This behaviour is known as corporate social responsibility, which essentially means businesses that are ‘committed to doing the right thing' by customers, employees and the wider community. When you operate in this way, yours will be a more attractive company to work for and to do business with.

What we'll cover


Key take-outs
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits both your business and your community
  • There are many ways that CSR initiatives can make a positive impact
  • Being a good corporate citizen that builds CSR practices into your business model may be a key factor in differentiating your company from its competitors
  • You can include a CSR strategy in your business plan and share CSR efforts on social.

It's good to be good

Adopting socially responsible business practices is all about achieving balance and thinking beyond your bottom line. Being a good corporate citizen means being guided by strong ethical standards as you consider the needs of your company (and its shareholders) and those of your customers and the community – while always being aware of the environmental impact of your business operations.


Doing the right thing is the right thing to do for your company, because people like doing business with companies that care and exhibit responsible corporate governance. This philosophy also strengthens employee engagement – and, when your workforce is fully engaged, great things can happen.

Support community causes and developing countries

Some of the best activities and events that go on around us are critical for the cultural and character development of our population – yet they often rely on financial support for survival. Getting behind causes that are beyond your local sports teams (as worthy as they are) is not just an altruistic thing to do. It may also provide occasions for client and staff entertainment and networking.


When considering sponsorship and other types of support, there are those opportunities that may provide a financial or ‘brand awareness' return on investment, and others that are simply good for the community. Try to balance the two – and remember they can both be used to engage and reward your staff.


In common with many individuals, some companies choose to allocate ‘giving' budgets each year on a sector basis, such as education, poverty, sport, medical, cultural and environmental causes. It all contributes to achieving good balance and good citizenship.

Offer matched donations

Many companies operate salary sacrifice schemes allowing employees to donate to charities in a tax-efficient way. Some of them also offer to match those donations.


You could appoint a committee to decide which charities to support each year and ask its members to consider a balance of sectors as above. Often, employees will have causes that are close to their hearts, adding an additional level of engagement.


This type of activity pulls employees together in support of a common cause – and can also provide your company with valuable PR opportunities that may give you a competitive advantage.

Give something back

Your organisation may be full of extraordinary talent that would benefit other organisations in need. It can be incredibly motivating for employees to get fully paid time off work that benefits those less well off than them, and your business.


This could be anything from a day a month to help with a Landcare project, to providing a not-for-profit organisation with marketing services. Or even a trip working on an infrastructure project for a remote community – offered as a performance-related prize.


Some organisations ‘give something back' by supporting employees who wish to serve in the part-time Army, Navy or Air Force Reserve. Quite often these Reservists will learn valuable practical and management skills they can apply to their full-time employment. Others offer educational services such as work experience to assist the disadvantaged in local communities.

Support environmental sustainability

It is in all our interests that we invest in a sustainable future by becoming greener businesses, managing environmental impacts in our business models. A few simple actions can make a huge collective difference:


  • Reduce your energy consumption, such as by adjusting thermostats by a degree or two
  • Choose green energy for all or part of your supply
  • Fill holes and gaps that are leaking cooling and heating – and invest in insulation
  • Update old and inefficient appliances and lighting
  • Set up separate recycling and consider how materials can be reused or repurposed
  • Avoid the use of plastics and seek out natural alternatives
  • Choose biodegradable products for your kitchens, bathrooms and business itself
  • Aim for a paper-free office
  • Use alternatives to business travel to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Offer incentives to your staff for environmentally-aware actions.


Environmental responsibility makes good business sense as many initiatives will save you money as well as reducing net greenhouse gas emissions.

Provide others with opportunities

In a well-balanced society, everyone would have access to economic opportunities, affordable housing, adequately paid jobs, high standards of education and culture. It’s an ideal worth continuously striving for when making business decisions and through our interactions with the community.

Foster inclusion and diversity

Many enlightened companies recognise the benefits of having a workforce that reflects the rich multicultural diversity of Australia itself.


Diversity and equality make for a stronger company, as it can bring a unique blend of skills, strengths and knowledge to business operations.

Share news of your good corporate citizenship

It's okay to be proud of your social and environmental performance. Letting customers and the community know about your CSR programs and ethical responsibility – through events and publicity – will not only be good for your business, but it will also inspire others to do the right thing too.


Sharing your socially responsible behaviour through social channels is a great way to keep your profile in front of customers, reminding them that you operate with an ethos of corporate responsibility. Always be sure you can back up your claims though.


To sum up

Becoming a good corporate citizen starts with a fine intention but relies on positive action. Your business may already have adopted many of the corporate social responsibility examples listed in this article, and having a formal structure to identify further CSR strategies is a good way for management and employees to bond for a common good. It's an area that's worth reviewing regularly as part of your general business plan.

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Things you should know

This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and is general. It is an overview only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon. Consider obtaining personalised advice from a professional financial adviser and your accountant before making any financial decisions in relation to the matters discussed in this article, including when considering tax and finance options for your business. Westpac does not endorse any of the external providers referred to in this article.