The private sector has come a long way with regard to corporate social responsibility (CSR) since Milton Friedman’s infamous declaration in The New York Times in 1970 that “The social responsibility of a business is to increase its profits.” That said, many corporations still default to surface-level actions when it comes to CSR. They pay lip service, donate funds at arm’s length to one cause or another, or relegate most CSR activities to a small task-force.

That’s not enough. What’s needed is an exponential increase in the number of businesses that commit to closing the “say-do” gaps between their brand narrative and core business operations. More companies need to broaden their approach to CSR, with the goal of achieving both business outcomes and system-level social change.

  1. Purpose
  2. Opportunity Assessment
  3. Levers for Change: Donations and grants alone are insufficient to achieve systems change. The value we bring is often what “money can’t buy”: our employees’ energy and skills, our capabilities as one of the country’s largest employers, our research depth, our marketing and communications teams’ creative capabilities, the reach of our branches and regional teams, and the technical capabilities of our digital, technology and innovation teams.
  4. Governance: Citizenship efforts are too often viewed as the full-time job of a relatively small corporate citizenship team, with the rest of the organization participating in sporadic activities.
  5. Measurement: Companies should shift to a model that measures the social economic, environmental, employee, business, and brand impact of our initiatives and investments.

Read the full article on corporate social responsibility by Valerie Chort and Hamoon Ekhtiari at Stanford Social Innovation Review.