Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Glossary

Here, you’ll find clear and concise definitions of key terms related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sustainability, and employee engagement. Whether you are an employee, partner, or simply interested in our work, this resource will guide you through the essential terminology used in our efforts to create a positive impact.

Bottom-Up Employee Engagement

Bottom-up employee engagement is an approach that empowers employees at all levels to contribute ideas and participate in decision-making processes. It fosters a culture of innovation and ownership by valuing employee input and encouraging active involvement in shaping company strategies and initiatives. This method enhances job satisfaction, boosts morale, and drives overall organisational performance by leveraging the diverse perspectives and talents within the workforce.

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, emitted directly or indirectly by an individual, organisation, or product. It includes emissions from energy use, transportation, production processes, and waste. Measuring and reducing carbon footprints are critical for mitigating climate change. Businesses calculate their carbon footprints to identify areas for improvement and implement strategies such as energy efficiency, renewable energy use, and carbon offset projects.

Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality is achieved when an organisation’s carbon emissions are balanced by carbon offsetting measures, resulting in a net zero carbon footprint. This involves reducing emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and compensating for remaining emissions by investing in projects like reforestation and renewable energy initiatives. Carbon neutrality is essential for mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable business practices.

Challenges & Deeds

Challenges & Deeds are structured initiatives that motivate employees to engage in activities that benefit the community or environment. Challenges involve setting specific goals, such as reducing plastic use or increasing volunteer hours, while deeds refer to the actions taken to achieve these goals. These programs enhance employee engagement, promote teamwork, and contribute to the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) objectives.

Circular Economy

A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. It involves designing products for longer use, reusing materials, and recycling, creating a closed-loop system where waste is minimised, and resources are kept in use for as long as possible. This approach contrasts with the traditional linear economy of make, use, and dispose, promoting sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

Climate Action

Climate action refers to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change impacts. It involves implementing sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and supporting conservation efforts. Climate action is crucial for mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, protecting ecosystems, and ensuring a sustainable future. Businesses play a vital role by integrating climate action into their operations and strategies.

Community Engagement

Community engagement involves building and maintaining relationships with local communities to understand and address their needs. This includes activities such as public consultations, volunteerism, and support for local initiatives. Effective community engagement fosters trust, collaboration, and mutual benefit, enhancing the organisation’s social impact and reputation within the community.

Community Investment

Community investment refers to the allocation of resources by a company to support community development projects. This can include financial contributions, volunteer efforts, and partnerships with local organisations. Community investment aims to address social issues, improve living conditions, and foster economic growth, benefiting both the community and the company’s reputation.

Conscious Consumerism

Conscious consumerism is the practice of making purchasing decisions based on ethical, environmental, and social considerations. Conscious consumers seek products that are sustainably sourced, ethically produced, and have minimal negative impact. This movement drives companies to adopt responsible practices, promote transparency, and cater to a market that values sustainability and ethical production.

Corporate Citizenship

Corporate citizenship refers to a company’s responsibilities toward society and the environment, reflecting its commitment to ethical behaviour and sustainable development. Good corporate citizens integrate social, environmental, and economic concerns into their operations, creating positive impacts on communities and enhancing their reputation and long-term success.

Corporate Foundation

A corporate foundation is a private foundation established by a corporation to manage its charitable activities. Corporate foundations often focus on areas aligned with the company’s values and mission, providing grants, sponsorships, and donations to support various social, environmental, and community projects. These foundations help formalise and expand a company’s philanthropic efforts, contributing to societal well-being.

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance refers to the system of rules, practices, and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. It involves balancing the interests of a company’s stakeholders, including shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government, and the community. Good corporate governance ensures transparency, accountability, and security, fostering trust and aligning company operations with legal and ethical standards to promote long-term success and sustainability.

Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy involves businesses donating resources, including money, products, services, or employee time, to charitable causes and non-profit organisations. These initiatives support social, cultural, educational, and environmental projects. Corporate philanthropy enhances a company’s social responsibility profile, fosters community goodwill, and aligns business operations with broader societal values.

Corporate Volunteering

Corporate volunteering refers to company-supported initiatives that encourage employees to engage in community service. These programs can include paid time off for volunteering, organised volunteer events, and partnerships with non-profit organisations. Corporate volunteering fosters a culture of social responsibility, enhances employee morale, and strengthens community relations by leveraging the workforce’s collective efforts to address societal challenges.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds by collecting small contributions from a large number of people, typically through online platforms. It allows individuals and organisations to present their projects or causes to a broad audience, encouraging community involvement and support. Crowdfunding can be reward-based, donation-based providing a flexible and accessible way to finance initiatives and engage supporters.

CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is an EU regulation requiring companies to disclose information on their social and environmental impact. This directive aims to enhance corporate transparency and accountability, ensuring stakeholders have access to reliable and comparable sustainability data. Companies must report on their strategies, risks, and outcomes related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, promoting responsible business practices.

CSR Ambassadors

CSR Ambassadors are employees who represent and advocate for their company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives both within the organisation and externally. They encourage participation, spread awareness, and exemplify the company’s commitment to social and environmental causes. CSR Ambassadors play a key role in fostering a culture of responsibility and sustainability.

CSR Partner

A CSR partner is an organisation or entity that collaborates with a company to achieve its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals. These partnerships can include non-profits, community groups, government agencies, and other businesses. By working together, companies and their CSR partners can pool resources, expertise, and networks to create greater social impact and address societal challenges more effectively.

CSR Strategy

A CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy is a company’s plan for integrating social and environmental considerations into its business operations and interactions with stakeholders. This strategy outlines the company’s commitments, objectives, and actions for addressing issues such as sustainability, ethical practices, and community involvement. A well-defined CSR strategy helps build trust, enhance reputation, and ensure long-term success.

DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)

DEI focuses on creating a workplace where diversity is embraced, equity ensures fair treatment, and inclusion fosters a sense of belonging. This includes policies and practices that promote representation of various demographics, equal opportunities, and a culture where all employees feel valued and included. Effective DEI strategies lead to a more innovative, engaged, and high-performing workforce, as diverse perspectives foster creativity and problem-solving.

Disaster Response

Disaster response refers to the immediate and coordinated actions taken by organisations, governments, and communities to address the impacts of natural or man-made disasters. This includes providing emergency relief, such as food, water, shelter, and medical care, and restoring essential services and infrastructure. Effective disaster response requires rapid assessment, resource mobilisation, and collaboration among various stakeholders to mitigate the disaster’s effects and support affected populations in recovery and rebuilding efforts.

eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score)

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a metric used to measure employee satisfaction and loyalty. It is derived from a survey asking employees how likely they are to recommend their workplace to others. The score helps organisations understand employee sentiment, identify areas for improvement, and track the effectiveness of engagement strategies, ultimately aiming to enhance the overall employee experience.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement refers to the level of emotional and intellectual commitment an employee has toward their organisation and its objectives. Engaged employees are highly motivated, take pride in their work, and are willing to go the extra mile. This leads to increased productivity, better job performance, and a stronger organisational culture. Engagement is fostered through recognition, career development opportunities, and creating a sense of purpose and belonging within the workplace. Effective engagement strategies result in higher retention rates and a more innovative and competitive business.

Employee Giving

Employee giving programs facilitate charitable donations by employees, often matched by the employer to amplify the impact. These programs can include payroll deductions, donation matching, and fundraising events, making it easy for employees to contribute to causes they care about. By supporting employee giving, companies foster a culture of generosity and social responsibility, enhance employee engagement, and build positive community relationships. Such initiatives also provide employees with a sense of purpose and connection to their company, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention.

Employee Recognition Programs

Employee recognition programs are systems set up by companies to acknowledge and reward employees for their hard work and achievements. These programs can include awards, bonuses, public recognition, and other incentives. Effective recognition programs boost morale, enhance job satisfaction, and improve employee retention by showing appreciation for employees’ contributions.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups that promote a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organisation’s mission and values. ERGs provide support, career development, and networking opportunities for their members, fostering a sense of belonging and contributing to the company’s DEI initiatives. They also offer valuable insights to improve business practices and policies.

Employee Well-being

Employee well-being programs focus on improving the physical, mental, and emotional health of employees. These programs may include health and fitness initiatives, mental health support, stress management resources, and work-life balance policies. Prioritising employee well-being leads to higher productivity, reduced absenteeism, and a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

Ethical Consumerism

Ethical consumerism is the practice of making purchasing decisions based on ethical considerations, such as fair trade, labor rights, and environmental sustainability. Ethical consumers choose products that align with their values, driving demand for responsible business practices and encouraging companies to adopt more sustainable and ethical operations.

Ethical Marketing

Ethical marketing refers to the practice of promoting products and services based on transparency, fairness, and social responsibility. It involves honest advertising, respecting consumer privacy, and avoiding manipulative tactics. Ethical marketing builds trust with consumers, enhances brand reputation, and ensures that marketing practices align with company values and ethical standards.

Ethical Sourcing

Ethical sourcing is the process of ensuring that the products being sourced are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way, considering the working conditions of labourers and the environmental impact. Companies engage in ethical sourcing by partnering with suppliers who adhere to fair labour practices, provide safe working conditions, and minimise environmental damage. This practice builds consumer trust and promotes fair trade and sustainability throughout the supply chain.

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)

ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and communities. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

ESG Reporting

ESG reporting is the disclosure of data covering a company’s operations in three areas: environmental, social, and governance. This reporting provides transparency on how a company is managing risks and opportunities related to sustainability issues. ESG reports help investors, stakeholders, and regulators assess a company’s commitment to sustainable and ethical practices.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade is a social movement aimed at helping producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and promote sustainable farming. It ensures that farmers and workers receive fair prices, decent working conditions, and fair terms of trade. Fair Trade also focuses on empowering producers, improving their quality of life, and fostering community development by adhering to social, economic, and environmental standards.

Footprint Challenge

The Footprint Challenge is a sustainability initiative that encourages individuals and organisations to reduce their environmental impact. Participants track and minimise their carbon footprint through various activities, such as reducing energy consumption, using sustainable transportation, and adopting eco-friendly practices. The challenge promotes awareness and action towards more sustainable living and business operations.

Fundraising

Fundraising is the act of collecting monetary contributions from individuals, businesses, and foundations to support a cause, project, or organisation. It involves various methods, such as events, campaigns, grant writing, and direct appeals. Successful fundraising requires strategic planning, clear communication of goals and impact, and building relationships with potential donors to secure necessary resources for achieving the organisation’s objectives.

Green Building

Green building involves designing and constructing buildings using environmentally responsible and resource-efficient practices. This includes using sustainable materials, improving energy efficiency, and reducing waste and pollution. Green buildings aim to minimise environmental impact, enhance occupant health, and reduce operational costs, contributing to sustainable urban development.

Green Finance

Green finance refers to financial investments that support environmentally sustainable projects and initiatives. This includes funding renewable energy projects, green buildings, and sustainable agriculture. Green finance helps mobilise capital towards climate action and environmental sustainability, fostering a low-carbon economy.

Green Marketing

Green marketing is the promotion of products or services based on their environmental benefits. It involves highlighting sustainable practices, eco-friendly products, and the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Green marketing appeals to environmentally conscious consumers and can enhance a company’s brand reputation and market competitiveness.

Green Procurement

Green procurement is the practice of purchasing products and services that have a reduced environmental impact. This includes choosing suppliers who use sustainable materials and processes, prioritising energy-efficient products, and considering the lifecycle impact of purchases. Green procurement supports sustainability goals and promotes responsible consumption.

Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the practice where a company falsely promotes its products, activities, or policies as environmentally friendly to appear more sustainable than it actually is. This deceptive marketing can mislead consumers who prefer to support genuinely sustainable businesses. Greenwashing undermines trust and can result in negative backlash if the company’s actual practices are exposed. Companies should ensure that their environmental claims are substantiated by transparent, verifiable actions and avoid overstating their green credentials.

Impact Framework

An impact framework is a structured approach for measuring and assessing the outcomes and effects of an organisation’s activities on society and the environment. It includes defining key metrics, collecting data, and analysing results to understand the impact. This framework helps organisations ensure their initiatives are achieving desired social and environmental goals, guiding strategic decisions and improving accountability.

Impact Investing

Impact investing involves making investments with the intention of generating positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. Investors in this field seek to support businesses and projects that contribute to societal good, such as renewable energy, affordable housing, and sustainable agriculture. Impact investing aligns financial goals with values-driven outcomes.

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leadership is the practice of leading a diverse team in a way that values and leverages each member’s unique perspectives and abilities. Inclusive leaders create an environment where all employees feel respected, valued, and able to contribute to their fullest potential. This leadership style fosters innovation, improves team performance, and builds a culture of trust and collaboration.

Match Funding

Match funding involves a commitment by an organisation or donor to match the amount of money raised from other sources, effectively doubling the fundraising efforts. This approach incentivises donors to contribute, knowing their donations will have a greater impact. Match funding is often used in charitable campaigns, grant applications, and corporate giving programs to enhance fundraising success and encourage broader participation.

Net-Zero Emissions

Net-zero emissions refer to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Companies commit to reducing their carbon footprint through various strategies, such as improving energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy, and investing in carbon offset projects. Achieving net-zero emissions is crucial for combating climate change and promoting sustainability.

Payment Service Provider

A payment service provider (PSP) is a third-party company that facilitates online payment processing for businesses. PSPs offer services such as accepting credit card payments, handling transactions, and ensuring secure payment methods. They provide a crucial link between merchants and financial institutions, enabling seamless and efficient financial transactions in e-commerce and other digital platforms.

Philanthropic Matching

Philanthropic matching, or matching gifts, is a corporate program where companies match donations made by employees to eligible non-profit organisations. This doubles the impact of employees’ charitable contributions and encourages philanthropic activity within the workforce. Matching programs demonstrate a company’s commitment to social responsibility and community support.

Philanthropy

Philanthropy refers to charitable acts or donations made by individuals or organisations to support social, environmental, or cultural causes. Corporate philanthropy involves businesses donating money, resources, or time to various initiatives, often aligning these efforts with their corporate values and objectives. Philanthropic activities can enhance a company’s social responsibility profile, improve community relations, and create positive societal impacts.

Pro Bono Services

Pro bono services are professional services offered voluntarily and without payment. These services are often provided by companies and professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, and consultants, to nonprofits, charities, and community organisations. Pro bono work supports social causes, helps organisations that might not afford these services, and allows professionals to contribute their expertise to meaningful projects.

Shared Value

Shared value is a business strategy concept where companies find business opportunities in social problems. It involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. This approach goes beyond corporate philanthropy by integrating social improvement into core business strategies, benefiting both the company and the community.

Skilled-Based Volunteering

Skilled-based volunteering involves individuals donating their professional skills and expertise to support non-profit organisations and community projects. This type of volunteering leverages specialised knowledge in areas such as marketing, IT, finance, and legal services, providing valuable support that might otherwise be unaffordable for non-profits. Skilled-based volunteering enhances organisational capacity and creates meaningful impact through targeted contributions.

Social Audit

A social audit is a formal review of a company’s procedures and policies to assess their social impact and ethical performance. This includes evaluating labor practices, community engagement, and environmental impact. Social audits help organisations ensure compliance with ethical standards, identify areas for improvement, and build trust with stakeholders.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship involves identifying and solving social problems through innovative, sustainable business solutions. Social entrepreneurs create ventures that prioritise social impact alongside profitability. They tackle issues such as poverty, education, and healthcare, using entrepreneurial principles to achieve scalable and sustainable solutions. Their goal is to create positive change and improve the lives of individuals and communities while maintaining a viable business model.

Social Impact

Social impact refers to the significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge. It is the effect of an organisation’s actions on the well-being of individuals and communities. Measuring social impact helps organisations understand the effectiveness of their initiatives and strategies in creating meaningful societal change, guiding future efforts to maximise positive outcomes.

Social Impact Assessment

Social impact assessment (SIA) is the process of evaluating the social effects of a company’s projects or policies on communities and stakeholders. SIA helps organisations understand potential social risks and benefits, ensuring that their activities contribute positively to societal well-being. It involves stakeholder engagement, data collection, and impact analysis to guide decision-making.

Social Innovation

Social innovation refers to the development and implementation of new solutions to social challenges that improve the well-being of individuals and communities. These innovations can take the form of products, services, or processes that address issues such as poverty, education, health, and environmental sustainability. Social innovation often involves cross-sector collaboration and aims to create lasting positive change.

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility involves businesses taking actions that benefit society and the environment, beyond their profit motives. This includes ethical practices, community engagement, and environmental conservation. Companies that embrace social responsibility strive to contribute positively to the community, protect natural resources, and operate transparently. By prioritising social responsibility, businesses can build trust with stakeholders, enhance their brand reputation, and ensure long-term sustainability and success.

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a framework for measuring and accounting for the value created by an organisation’s activities in social, environmental, and economic terms. SROI involves calculating the social impact of investments and comparing it to the financial investment made. This helps organisations understand and communicate the broader value of their initiatives, guiding decision-making and resource allocation.

Stepping Challenge

A Stepping Challenge is a workplace wellness program designed to promote physical activity among employees. Participants are encouraged to increase their daily steps, often using pedometers or fitness trackers, to achieve personal and team goals. This challenge fosters a healthy, active lifestyle, improves employee well-being, and can enhance team bonding through friendly competition. Companies often support stepping challenges by offering incentives and tracking progress to motivate employees and create a fun, engaging workplace environment.

Storytelling

Storytelling in business involves using narrative techniques to communicate the company’s mission, values, and impact. Effective storytelling engages audiences emotionally, making complex information more relatable and memorable. It is a powerful tool for building brand identity, fostering customer loyalty, and inspiring action among employees and stakeholders by highlighting real-life examples and success stories.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals established by the United Nations in 2015 to address urgent social, economic, and environmental challenges by 2030. They include objectives such as eradicating poverty, improving education, promoting gender equality, and combating climate change. Businesses play a critical role in achieving these goals through responsible practices and strategic initiatives.

Sustainable Innovation

Sustainable innovation refers to developing new products, services, or processes that meet environmental, social, and economic needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This involves integrating sustainability into the innovation process, driving long-term business success, and addressing global challenges.

Sustainable Supply Chain

A sustainable supply chain integrates environmentally and socially responsible practices into the entire supply chain lifecycle, from raw material sourcing to production, distribution, and end-of-life disposal. Companies focus on reducing environmental footprints, ensuring fair labour practices, and promoting resource efficiency. A sustainable supply chain supports long-term business viability and ethical standards.

Sustainability

Sustainability in business is the practice of operating in a way that ensures long-term ecological balance, economic viability, and social responsibility. It involves implementing practices that reduce environmental impact, such as using renewable energy, reducing waste, and conserving resources. Sustainable businesses aim to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. This includes considering the entire lifecycle of products, from production to disposal, and promoting ethical sourcing and fair labour practices. By prioritising sustainability, businesses can drive innovation, enhance their brand, and build resilient operations.

Theory of Change (TOC)

The Theory of Change (TOC) is a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It maps out the logical sequence of actions needed to achieve a specific goal, including inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. TOC helps organisations plan and evaluate their programs, ensuring they effectively contribute to long-term impact.

Time-Based Volunteering

Time-based volunteering involves individuals committing their time to volunteer activities, typically without requiring specific skills. This can include a wide range of activities such as mentoring, environmental clean-ups, and assisting at events. Time-based volunteering is accessible to many people, allowing them to contribute to their communities and support causes they care about through direct participation and personal effort.

Transparency

Transparency in business refers to the openness and clarity with which a company communicates its operations, decisions, and performance to stakeholders. Transparent companies disclose information about their financial health, environmental impact, labor practices, and other relevant activities. This openness builds trust, enhances accountability, and fosters a positive relationship with customers, employees, investors, and the broader community.

Triple Bottom Line

The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a framework that encourages businesses to focus on social and environmental concerns just as they do on profits. It posits that companies should commit to measuring their social and environmental impact alongside financial performance. The three pillars of TBL are often referred to as “people, planet, and profit.” By prioritising this balanced approach, businesses can achieve sustainable growth while positively contributing to society and the environment.

Vetting

Vetting is the process of thoroughly evaluating and assessing individuals, organisations, or projects to ensure they meet specific criteria or standards. This can involve background checks, reference checks, and verifying qualifications and credentials. In a corporate context, vetting is crucial for maintaining integrity, compliance, and security, helping organisations avoid potential risks associated with unqualified or fraudulent parties.

Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

Volunteer Time Off (VTO) is a benefit that allows employees to take paid time off from work to volunteer for charitable causes. VTO programs encourage community service and engagement, support work-life balance, and reflect a company’s commitment to social responsibility. These programs benefit both the community and the company by fostering employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Well-being Programs

Well-being programs are initiatives implemented by companies to support the physical, mental, and emotional health of their employees. These programs can include activities such as fitness challenges, mental health support, stress management workshops, and flexible working arrangements. By prioritising employee well-being, companies can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and create a more positive and supportive work environment.

Workplace Giving

Workplace giving programs enable employees to make charitable donations directly from their payroll. These programs often include company matching, enhancing the impact of employee contributions. Workplace giving fosters a culture of philanthropy, engages employees in social responsibility, and strengthens community relations by supporting causes that employees care about.