Do you believe that corporate social responsibility is important to your company, but that it’s someone else’s problem?

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “How to Make Sustainability Every Employee’s Responsibility” posits that question (albeit substituting “sustainability” for “corporate social responsibility”) and suggests that while many companies talk about sustainability and integration, it’s much harder to get people to act individually to achieve these corporate goals.

Author CB Bhattacharya attributes this syndrome of thinking that an issue is someone else’s problem as one of ownership. He asserts that companies can gain a competitive advantage by transforming their stakeholders from bystanders into owners by making sustainability – or social good – part of their purpose by using a framework with three phases: incubate, launch and entrench.

The incubation phase outlines your CSR approach by reflecting on the purpose of your business and its specific role in the world and then creating a list of material issues across your value chain. The launch phase entails introducing your plan to stakeholders and setting the idea of ownership in action. The entrenchment phase works to make these feelings of ownership routine – something that people just do rather than something they are expected to do.

While the CSR office can be instrumental at setting a firm-wide goal, establishing measures of success and launching volunteer programs, the more employees and their friends and family members take ownership and entrench volunteerism and community service into their daily routines, the more integrated it will be for the firm, and the more success the company will have in making community service part of the corporate culture.

Read the full article about corporate social responsibility by Tim McClimon at TriplePundit.