Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

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What is CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – is the term most frequently applied to the voluntary integration of social and environmental concerns into business practice. It’s about being a responsible business and having a positive impact on your community and society. The EU Commission defined it as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”.

CSR is about running a business in a responsible and sustainable manner, and contributing to the local community.

Multinational companies tend to have policies, managers and even whole departments dedicated to CSR. However, SMEs are just as ethical and charitable as their larger counterparts, they just tend to spend less time quantifying and publicising it.

CSR is about treating your staff and customers well, being environmentally friendly and working to improve the local community.

‘Towards Responsible Business’ is Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020. Click here for full publication.

Why should I care about CSR?

Research has shown that a businesses can benefit from CSR. It tends to increase productivity and motivation levels, improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, strengthens the company reputation and can lead to good publicity. CSR policies are also increasingly becoming important in public procurement tendering.

sustainable smes

How can my company engage in CSR?

It’s likely that you already are conducting many elements of CSR such as being environmentally friendly, offering staff extra training, sponsoring local teams, donating to charities, raffles and schools, volunteering your own time and allowing staff to volunteer on company time.

If you are not active in CSR, or you want to expand your work in this area, ISME encourages you to think local and utilise the experience and skills of your business. Choose a partner charity or project and decide what resources and time you can give. Get staff involved and make it a team effort.

Your CSR programme should promote and strengthen your business, as well as making a genuine contribution to the community.

The Four Dimensions of Corporate Social Responsibility

  1. The Workplace: This is about how you support and engage your employees.
  2. The Environment: This is about how you reduce, reuse or recycle resources to minimise negative environmental impacts
  3. The Community: This is about how you interact with your local community partners and organisations.
  4. The Marketplace: This is about how your company makes responsible commercial decisions in dealing with suppliers and customers.


  • CSR Check 2019: is the 2nd Progress Report on the implementation of ‘Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020. CSR Check 2019 was prepared by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on behalf of the CSR Stakeholder Forum.
  • Towards Responsible Business: 2017 – 2020, Ireland’s second National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017 – 2020
  • Business in the Community Ireland’s Responsible Business for SMEs website includes a range of sample CSR reports produced by Irish SMEs and there are Resources & Tools for SMEs

The CSR Hub Ireland

The CSR Hub is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).It is a one stop shop for information on all aspects of CSR in Ireland. It includes guidance and resources on taking the first steps towards CSR, Case Studieslatest newsminutes from the CSR Stakeholder Forum Meetings and more.

Read the Towards Responsible Business Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020 2nd Progress Report here

Other Resources: 

  • Business in the Community Ireland is a movement for sustainable change in business. In a dynamic and changing environment, sustainable businesses are successful businesses.
  • CSR Hub is a one stop shop for all aspects CSR information for business from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and  Employment
  • Guide to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals was developed for businesses by Business in the Community Ireland.
  • SDG Compass provides guidance for companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realisation of the SDGs.
  • The Business Working Responsibly Mark Business in the Community Ireland developed the Business Working Responsibly Mark. The Mark is audited by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and based on ISO 26000.
  • ISO 26000 Social Responsibility provides guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility helping to clarify what social responsibility is, helps businesses and organizations translate principles into effective actions and shares best practices relating to social responsibility, globally. It is aimed at all types of organizations regardless of their activity, size or location.
  • The European Commission also provides a range of resources on Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible Business Conduct