Corporate Social Responsibility: Lessons Learned

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Courtesy of Five Winds International L.P.

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This study documents the experience of companies that have developed programs or activities that address the elements of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The study is part of a larger federal Policy Research Initiative (PRI) on sustainable development, being undertaken to look at key policy issues facing Canada in the short and long term. The steering committee for the project is comprised of representatives from Natural Resources Canada, Industry Canada, Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Transport Canada and the Policy Research Initiative. The results of the study will assist to further guide industrial policies and program development to ensure a strong and competitive Canadian economy.

The purpose of the case study component of the project was to better understand the drivers, implementation approaches, challenges and barriers facing companies as they attempt to advance CSR, and to explore the role of government in promoting CSR. The report consists of two parts: 1) this summary report; and 2) ten individual company case studies. With the exception of the context section of this report, there has been no attempt to define CSR or look at broad drivers and trends other than those identified by the companies who participated. For detailed descriptions of the drivers, benefits, challenges and success factors, readers are encouraged to read the individual case studies. A companion paper to this study entitled Rising Expectations: Corporate Social Responsibility, explores these issues in more depth.

The framework for the study is based on a modified version of the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility guidelines on CSR, which organizes CSR into key program areas. The study proponents selected this framework and participating companies were asked to highlight the program areas where they felt they were particularly strong. The framework groups CSR activities into the following nine program areas: community and broader society; employees; customer or product stewardship; environment; stakeholder engagement; reporting and communications; shareholders; suppliers; governance / code of conduct. A more detailed description of CSR and examples of activities that make up these program headings are provided in Section 5 of this report.

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