Corporate social responsibility, or CSR for short, is a term used to refer to the concept that all organizations have a responsibility to the society or societies that they operate within.

The term can mean different things to different organizations, with major types of corporate social responsibility including:

  • Environmental responsibility: The belief that businesses should behave in as environmentally friendly a way as possible
  • Ethical responsibility: The belief that a business should operate in a fair and ethical manner
  • Philanthropic responsibility: The belief that an organization should actively strive to make the world a better place
  • Economic responsibility: The belief that a business should back all of its financial decisions in its commitment to “do good”

While the concept of corporate social responsibility has been around for decades, it’s begun to take on greater importance in recent years as consumers become more informed about issues such as climate change and economic inequality, among other areas of concern. As such, current and aspiring business leaders would do well to develop a firm understanding of CSR and how it might impact not only their day-to-day role and responsibilities, but also their long-term career trajectory.

Completing corporate social responsibility training, or CSR training, is one excellent way of developing this foundation. Below are the major benefits of completing corporate social responsibility training, as well as some options you may want to consider.

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Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility Training

1. You’ll Understand the Business Case for Sustainability

In the not-so-distant past, it was believed that businesses should exist with a single goal: Generating profit to increase value for shareholders.

Most business decisions were made with the bottom line in mind. What were the cheapest fuels or materials that could be used? What was the cheapest labor source? The answers to these questions rarely coincided with the most environmentally friendly or equitable options.

And yet, sustainability offers several benefits that help make a business case for sustainability, including it:

  • Drives internal innovation
  • Improves environmental and supply risk
  • Attracts and retains employees
  • Expands audience reach
  • Builds brand loyalty
  • Reduces production costs
  • Garners positive publicity
  • Serves as a differentiator in your market

By completing corporate social responsibility training, you’ll be better positioned to understand which of these potential benefits can be realized within your own business or industry. You’ll also be armed with the critical thinking skills and frame of reference to identify opportunities and threats within your space.

2. You’ll Learn Effective Business Strategies for Driving Change

Completing corporate social responsibility training will not only help you understand the business case for embracing sustainability, but it can also teach you specific strategies you can implement to drive change within your organization and industry.

For example, by enrolling in a training program that follows a case-based approach, you’ll see how real businesses implemented successful CSR initiatives. Some of these initiatives may be carried over directly to your organization or serve as inspiration for initiatives you might pursue.

Here are just a few examples of what these potential strategies might look like:

  • Partnering with nonprofit organizations that share your passions or concerns
  • Educating your employees about the issues and their unique role in addressing them
  • Encouraging volunteerism within your organization, for example, by offering volunteer time off (VTO) or establishing a company-wide day of volunteering
  • Rethinking your supply chain to reduce consumption of plastics, natural resources, and carbon-based fuels

3. You’ll Be Able to Create a Personal Action Plan

Many individuals who pursue CSR training do so with the goal of bringing the insights, strategies, and skills they’ve learned back to their company to initiate some form of broader organizational change.

While that’s important, it’s also vital to recognize the role individuals play in pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. For that reason, the best CSR training programs require learners to develop a personal action plan that outlines the key steps they can take in their personal and professional lives to put their CSR training into action. As a result, when you’ve completed the training, you can immediately begin leveraging your education to make a difference.

Creating a personal action plan is especially beneficial for current or aspiring entrepreneurs or for those who join early-stage startups. Armed with such a plan, it becomes that much easier to build sustainability into the DNA and mission of your business.

The Value of Corporate Social Responsibility Training

Completing corporate social responsibility training brings a variety of benefits. Not only will such training help you understand the business case for embracing sustainability, but it will also arm you with specific strategies you can leverage in your business. The best training options will guide you through the process of creating a personal action plan so that you walk away fully prepared to put your education into action.

Sustainable Business Strategy

The online course Sustainable Business Strategy, for example, exemplifies each of the benefits discussed above. The course takes a case-based approach, exposing you to real challenges faced by large and well-known companies as they pursued various corporate social responsibility initiatives. These case studies perfectly illustrate the business case to be made for embracing CSR. Likewise, creating a personal action plan is built into the curriculum, and is a requirement for completing the course.

Whether you’re a business leader or manager, an aspiring entrepreneur, a CSR or consulting professional, or simply a purpose-driven individual looking to make a difference in the world, Sustainable Business Strategy can help you reach your goals.

Are you interested in making an impact on your community and the planet? Explore our three-week online course Sustainable Business Strategy and other Business in Society courses to learn how to be a purpose-driven professional.

Tim Stobierski

About the Author

Tim Stobierski is a marketing specialist and contributing writer for Harvard Business School Online.