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You want CSR transformation? Start with CSR governance

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

While it’s difficult to pin down exactly how many companies have announced new climate and social commitments in recent months, what we do know is that at least 30 multinationals from all sectors have bet on achieving carbon neutrality before 2050. These include Amazon, Repsol, Equinor, Total, Unilever, Facebook, and Apple. Capgemini too has announced an increased ambition to be net zero by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality for its operations no later than 2025.

Delivering on CSR objectives

These ambitious commitments underline the growing pressure on private sector organizations to make tackling the world’s social and environmental challenges part of corporate strategy. As such, beyond the announcements themselves, companies will have to demonstrate their ability to truly deliver on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives, including these environmental commitments. Failure to do so could result in a harsh and irrevocable backlash from investors, policymakers and customers. Beyond the threat, engaging in a sustainable-driven transformation is a powerful lever for growth and opportunities, as detailed in Capgemini’s report “Why Purpose-driven organizations are winning consumers’ hearts”.

Rethinking CSR governance for a major transformation project

For many, achieving these objectives requires an in-depth transformation of how they operate. Each new project within that transformation must be clearly thought through to maximize its societal impact. Thus, the new challenge for companies is to define a strong yet attainable CSR ambition, to which it can be held accountable and that infuses all the company’s activities.

As with any transformation, achieving such ambitious goals can require rethinking governance. CSR projects face specific challenges, often involving numerous stakeholders and in response to strong reputational issues. There is also no immediate or quantifiable business impact, as well as a long or even non-existent ROI.  Thus, CSR governance implies multi-stakeholder steering and finding the right level of tension to mobilize funds and people towards effective decision-making.

5 ways to bring to life your CSR objectives

We believe that, with good governance, achieving CSR objectives is possible. Here are our five insights on how to get there:

Insight#1 – Alignment with purpose

Insight#2 – High level sponsorship

Insight #3 – Set quantifiable and public objectives

Insight #4 – Integrate CSR in the company’s business

Insight #5 – Three levels of vision to effectively steer CSR strategies

In addition, we believe three levels of vision are necessary to effectively steer CSR:

No one size fits all for governance

The new governance needed to steer an organization’s CSR will have to adapt to the company’s sectorial issues, its structure and its culture. While no standard governance can be associated with a given level of CSR performance, the above elements are nevertheless essential. At the same time, they may not be wholly sufficient to the task, so will need to be adapted and extended to match each organization’s unique situation.

While defining this governance, organizations must learn to think about CSR in terms of results, and thus develop a method for evaluating the performance of their policy. Communication is essential, but on its own is no longer enough. Moving deeper into the decade of proof, any company committed to a sincere CSR approach must drive CSR by results.

So moving forward, are you willing to lay a beginner’s eye on your own organization’s CSR governance? What surprises you? What would you keep, what would you change? As organizations are massively engaging on the journey to sustainability, the way the ship is steered will make the difference as to whom gets safely to harbor.


Gabrielle Desarnaud
Elodie Asselin


Gabrielle Desarnaud

Elodie Asselin

Valérie-Anne PRUNGET

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