Corporate Social Responsibility: what is it?
Corporate Social Responsibility or “CSR” is a broad concept referring to the act of fusing medium- and long-term sustainable development issues including economic, social, and environmental concerns, implemented in the company’s vision, business operations, and interactions with its stakeholders. It is a written statement, usually signed by the company’s board of directors.
The European Commission has defined CSR as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society“. The Commission, which “combines horizontal approaches to promote CSR/RBC with more specific approaches for individual sectors and policy areas”, “encourages enterprises to adhere to international guidelines and principles integrating social, environmental, ethical, consumer, and human rights concerns into their business strategy and operations.”
In CSR, the concept of sustainable development is key as it encourages businesses to make long-term commitments through responsible acts and results. Back in 1987, Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway, referred to sustainable development as a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Although implementing CSR is voluntary-based, which leaves companies free from integrating corporate social responsibility in their business strategy, listed corporations are required to report results on their CSR initiatives.
Why implement corporate social responsibility?
According to an Insee survey, “In 2016, in France, a quarter of firms spontaneously acknowledged that their activity had a strong or very strong impact on the environment” including waste production, shrinking biodiversity, global warming, air, water and soil pollution, etc.
Many industry sectors are involved including those of energy and the environment, agribusiness, transport, etc., but what about the cosmetics industry?
There are two major emerging challenges:
- the formula of the cosmetic product
- the beauty packaging
With direct impacts on health and the environment, the formula of a cosmetic product is being closely scrutinized by the public. Cosmetic companies are pressured to take CSR actions in order to support sustainable development. The push is on to find more virtuous cosmetic formulas that encourage firms to commit to cleaner beauty care, related to Clean Beauty principles. Additional focus is made on setting up various sustainable development programs throughout the company’s value chain.
Regarding beauty packaging: its undeniable environmental impact is becoming a priority in a corporate social responsibility strategy, or even in product innovations (e.g. multi-purpose biosourced beauty packaging).
CSR encourages firms to make a positive impact on the environment and be more transparent with stakeholders including consumers, employees, investors, communities, etc. It also improves brands’ reputation and employee loyalty, it increases economic efficiency and attracts new business opportunities and new consumers who are committed to social responsibility.
Here a concrete CSR example with ALPOL Cosmétique:
Highly committed to making a sustainable impact on the long-run, the cosmetics manufacturer chose to co-build its corporate social responsibility program altogether with its employees. As a result, ALPOL Cosmétique made it a strategic management concept, adding value to the company to support customer satisfaction and the community.
The company has fully dedicated a CSR program called -ID Beauty. Its objective is to develop sustainability in the cosmetics industry through:
- ensuring its expertise, know-how and soft skills are in harmony with its CSR strategic tactic through socially responsible and sustainable actions;
- supporting initiatives that are thought out and carried out for the teams’, consumers’ and community’s health.
How do cosmetic companies employ CSR?
In France, since the enactment of the “loi Pacte” (the “Law”) in 2019, every single French corporation must “take into account” environmental and social issues in the management of their business operations. As a result, it is a minimum legal basis of CSR activities integration and commitment by companies.
However, many businesses have extended their corporate social responsibility strategy as a driving-force that is more ambitious than the recommended international standards.
Here is an example: to support customer satisfaction and sustain performance, ALPOL Cosmetique set up a responsible R&D charter that enables its employees and customers to refer to and apply to each product development project.
Another example is with the ISO 16128 standard, an international standard that defines the natural, organic or bio-based ingredients of a cosmetic product.
In addition to collecting updated data to define the percentage of naturalness in a beauty product and in accordance to the ISO 16128 standard, ALPOL Cosmetique qualifies the origin of its raw materials, sourced from its suppliers, with whom it has drawn up a Purchasing Charter in line with its CSR strategy. This way, enables it to support its clients in claiming a responsible, natural and/or organic cosmetic product if they so wish.
Do you want to add value to your beauty range through CSR initiatives? Let’s talk about it with our experts.