Rick Lambell is a Consultant with the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR). He previously worked with PwC Australia where he was recognised as joint-winner of the CSR Champion of the Year Award in 2010.

Rick LambellCSR champions play a key role in engaging people and embedding CSR into organisational strategy. Our State of CSR Australia 2010/11 Insight Series #1 – “CSR and Governance: Practices and Challenges” found that 65% of managers surveyed said that their organisations had CSR champions in place to assist them in meeting their CSR objectives.

Champions are an organisation’s most passionate, committed advocates for CSR.  They are on the front-line in terms of educating staff and building internal buy-in for CSR initiatives. Their skills, experience and energy can play a key role in driving environmental and community initiatives forward, while also providing an important source of ideas and feedback on the effectiveness of an organisation’s CSR strategy and programs.

For individuals, involvement in a CSR champion network or team provides an opportunity to put personal values and beliefs into action, and build relationships with like-minded individuals. It also offers the chance to gain new skills and experience to enhance their career development.

Rick is a Consultant at the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR). He previously worked with PwC Australia where he was recognised as joint winner of the CSR Champion of the Year Award in 2010.

Rick LambellIn my last blog – Why CSR champions remain an untapped resource in many organisations – I argued that CSR champion networks remain an underutilised resource in the drive to integrate CSR into organisational strategy.

As promised, the following are my 10 tips for success:

  1. Find a balance between formality and flexibility. To be effective, champion networks need a basic level of structure and process. This may include a champion leadership team, defined roles and responsibilities, the setting of short and long-term targets, and a reporting dashboard to measure progress over time. However, the scope of activities needs to be realistic; for most people, the role of CSR champion is a voluntary commitment to be balanced against existing work obligations.
  2. Focus on the issues people are most passionate about. People are drawn to CSR champion networks for different reasons, including concern for the environment, the community, or issues such as gender diversity in the workplace. Champions should be given the opportunity to pursue the issues that most align with their interests, skills and experience.
  3. Communicate the link between CSR strategy and champion activities. People need to have a clear sense of how their actions as CSR champions are aligned to their organisation’s overall CSR strategy. The strategy needs to be communicated to the champions and opportunities to contribute ideas and feedback built into the governance process, such as focus groups or champion surveys.

Rick LambellThe recent furore surrounding Coles, milk prices and the social responsibilities of the supermarket giants provides  a useful opportunity to reflect on the state of CSR in the Australian retail sector.

An online review of some of Australia’s largest retail and consumer goods companies paints a decidedly mixed picture.

Controversies aside, the two retail conglomerates – Wesfarmers and Woolworths – are clearly well on the sustainability journey.  Wesfarmers is the only Australian retailer to be listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, while Woolworths is mid-way into an ambitious seven-year sustainability strategy.

Beyond the two big retailers, however, the picture is much less encouraging. The websites of some of Australia’s largest brand retailers, including Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Just Group and Pacific Brands suggests only a limited commitment to CSR, minimal reporting, and little evidence of integrating CSR into core business.

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