With monthly press releases, DFGE– the Institute for Energy, Ecology and Economy – consolidates checklists with best practices in order to improve the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. After having focused on the program as a whole, and environmental, labor practices and human rights, DFGE now provides a list for community involvement improvement.
Greifenberg/Munich, 31 October 2016 – DFGE – Institute for Energy, Ecology and Economy – was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the Technical University of Munich and offers complete consulting, software and audit solutions in the field of sustainability. DFGE partners with internationally-recognized reporting frameworks to better support companies in their sustainability management and reporting. DFGE will held a series of monthly press releases with a checklist of questions on sustainability programs. This fifth checklist is about the Community Involvement and Development program.
1 – Is the program structured?
To make sure that the program will work, companies need to structure it and understand the topic. What is community involvement and development?
According to ISO 26 000, “Community involvement is an organization’s proactive outreach to the community. It is aimed at preventing and solving problems, fostering partnerships with local organizations and stakeholders”
Community is defined as “residential or other social settlements located in a geographic area that is in physical proximity to an organization’s sites or within an organization’s areas of impact”, but it can also be a “virtual community”.
Community development can be understood as “help to promote higher levels of well-being in the community. Such development, generally understood, is the improvement in the quality of life of a population.”
Below you can check if the program is well structured:
- Is the management engaged?
- Is the company in touch with local communities, NGOs, local authorities? It is paramount to be in touch with stakeholders, it is the goal of community involvement.
- Is the program part of an overall strategy? For instance, companies choose to align their community development activity to their core business. A food company might want to develop nutrition programs and an IT company might want to bridge the digital gaps in some communities.
- Are there targets? Are they followed by KPIs and reviewed?
- Are the successes communicated?
- Have the relevant topics been identified? When developing the program, did you make sure to avoid that the community depends from your organization philanthropic activities and ongoing support?
- Have you conducted an impact analysis? Have you identified if your operations threaten the life of the community? Do vulnerable populations are part of your stakeholders?
2 – Does your organization practice community involvement?
Engaging local stakeholders will enable to know the community needs and priorities to act accordingly and foster good relations with the community.
- Have you consulted community groups?
- Are you a member of such groups?
- Have you drafted the agenda for community development with these groups?
- Are you taking part in local associations?
- Do you encourage and support employees to take part in such programs, for instance by facilitating volunteering hours?
- Is there a record of the suggestions/wishes of local communities?
- Is there someone responsible of interacting with local communities? Do you have a company foundation?
- Is there a process/ a charter to make sure community involvement is carried out in a respectful way (by recognizing the cultural characteristics of the community, acknowledging their point of view, knowing and respecting their rights?).
Once the community is engaged, you can start helping to develop them.
3 – Does your organization help creating value?
According to ISO 26 000, “value creation encompasses employment creation and skills as well as wealth and income creation. Competitive and diverse enterprises and co-operatives are crucial in creating wealth in any community. Organizations can help to create an environment in which entrepreneurship can thrive, bringing lasting benefits to communities.”
- Have you implemented shared value solutions (beneficial for the local community as well as for the company)? For instance, companies can develop a new product that meet the social needs of a community.
- Do you participate in local and national skills development programs?
- Have you launched/taken part in programs to promote local suppliers and support organizations which foster local employment?
- Do you train local suppliers?
- Have you developed/taken part in entrepreneurship programs?
- Have you checked if taxes are paid to local governments?
4 – Does your organization resort to social investments?
“Social investment takes place when organizations invest their resources in initiatives and programs aimed at improving social aspects of community life. Types of social investments may include projects related to education, training, culture, health care, income generation, infrastructure development, improving access to information or any other activity likely to promote economic or social development.” ISO 26 000. Such resources can of course be money, but also employees training local communities, loans of equipment …
- Have you engaged local communities to know their priorities (community involvement)?
- Do you invest resources in such programs: monetary (grants, donations, matching gifts programs); in-kind; human resources (volunteering); knowledge?
- Do you train local communities? Do the local communities train you on the local specificities and exchange their knowledge
- Do you invest in programs enabling customers/local communities access to essential services? (health, education, etc.)
Community outreach is part of a CSR program, local communities being a stakeholder of companies. Though philanthropic activities are usually part of it, the community involvement and development goes beyond. Indeed, the goal is to identify the impacts companies have on local communities to manage them in the best possible way, by avoiding to plunder their resources, by being in touch with them and helping to develop them. Like any aspect of CSR, it helps managing risks and also leads to opportunities for the companies themselves.
If you also want to read the recent 4 check lists – please see
- No 1 – A checklist to easily improve sustainability programs
- No 2 – A checklist to easily improve your environmental program
- No 3 – A checklist to easily improve labor practices
- No 4 – A checklist to improve respect to human rights
DFGE – institute for energy, ecology and economy – was founded in 1999 as spin-off of the Technical University of Munich and offers complete consulting, software and audit solutions in the field of CSR. Our offer SustainabilityIntelligence features management and reporting solutions related to CSR and sustainability topics (among them being greenhouse gas emissions), and refers to international norms in this field. Our clients comprise international companies (DAX and fortune 500), SMEs, governmental organizations or territorial authorities. For more information, contact us: or visit our website www.dfge.de
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