Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Is your company a leader?

In the past companies were judged on high performance by measuring against key business imperatives including competitive differentiation, sales, attracting and retaining talent, operational efficiency, return on investment and profitability. But today that is no longer enough. A new element of leadership is making a profound difference in gauging business performance: corporate social responsibility (CSR).

According to Edelman’s 2010 Goodpurpose Study, 67% of consumers say they are more likely to buy products and services from a company if they know it supports good causes, up more than 11% from the year before. This has seen CSR surge passed its tipping point. “A plethora of research points to a majority of stakeholders agreeing that CSR is a ‘must do’,” says Kristian Darigan Merenda, Edelman’s senior vice president of brand and corporate citizenship.

Research conducted earlier in 2014 by Impakt Corp. revealed that corporations that are considered leaders in terms of business performance take a common approach to CSR. According to the research, there are five interrelated criteria which form a new blueprint for the way corporations can maximize their investments in CSR: business-based social purpose; clear theory of change; quality and depth of information; concentrated effort; and partnering with experts.

As a result of being born from a world association of seafood experts and academics and engaged heavily in aquaculture AwF believes that its key corporate social leaders are within the very same industry. As a key ingredient in business strategy and execution, the AwF CSR program can play a central role in helping corporations to be seen as leaders. In the world of business astute corporations are allocating increasing internal resources to CSR investments that feature clear objectives and deliver measurable social outcomes. AwF is keen to partner organizations offering the opportunity for companies to put back into developing countries through aquaculture (the world’s fastest growing primary industry producing a renewable sustainable highly nutritious protein/food).

AwF’s Executive Director, Roy Palmer, said “We have a responsibility because of who we are and what we do to take a lead role in alleviating hunger and malnutrition. We have a strong affiliation with the whole seafood chain and we believe that they, given the opportunities that we have been developing over the years, will be keen to collaborate strongly with us.”

AwF was launched at the World Aquaculture Society meeting in Hawaii in 2004, and the history has just been reported in the World Aquaculture Magazine vol 45 Nr 1 March 2014. AwF joined the Alliance Against Hunger & Malnutrition (AAHM) and established its first Aquaculture Learning Center (ALC) last year and AwF holds regular sessions at events organised by the World Aquaculture Society and the Association of International Seafood Professionals where we have affiliation status.

AwF has taken the issues raised in a recently acclaimed article in Forbes and details how the AwF program meets the elements considered most important in CSR actions:

AwF CSR – Business-based social purpose: 

There are many examples of CSR programs that ignore business fundamentals. Leadership-level CSR programs always directly reflect what the business is and what it does. AwF’s program illustrates how an innovative CSR initiative can reinforce the company’s business purpose and seamlessly leverage its operational competencies. Connecting the business and staff through AwF programs is enabling the organisation to engage in many areas.

 AwF Clear theory of change: 

There is good and bad news in that CSR is becoming universal. Proving business value and being able to differentiate one company’s efforts from another’s is something AwF can highlight. Lessons learnt at all levels will drive measurable social change and promotion of the outcomes achieved is beneficial to all.

 AwF Quality and depth of information: 

AwF with its expanding global connections will identify investment opportunities. They will link with AAHM and FAO and aim to provide employees, customers and external stakeholders with a significant depth of information about the social issue through credible research, white papers, videos, stories, social media, etc. In the fullness of time AwF understands that sophisticated projects will lead to a more intelligent, enlightened world. AwF has already raised the prospects of developing new solutions to important medical and sustainability issues by providing opportunities for universities and students to engage in a template that measures the value of the achievements. There can be many ways of measuring success, so it’s really important to have some clear goals in mind, and make sure those are shared and delivered for both partners, as well as a clear exit strategy that leaves the charity in a better place.

AwF Concentrated effort: 

It is often stated that people are capable of effectively addressing only one objective at a time. That is why many individual organisations often discover that when they support multiple social issues they are not as successful as if they work on one. Leadership is shown by corporations that focus their efforts on one social issue and align all their internal and external resources with this issue. There are many examples of this with large organisations. Additionally, by working with an organisation which is already established in the space, like AwF, much time and effort is saved.

AwF Partnering with experts: 

Leadership requires establishing a high degree of credibility. This is best done through relationships with social issue experts and not-for-profit organizations. Starbucks hosted a “Cup Summit” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to bring together municipalities, raw materials suppliers, cup manufacturers, retail and beverage businesses, recyclers, non-government organizations and academic experts to share ideas for making paper and plastic cups more broadly recyclable. “On the journey to make our iconic coffee cups 100% recyclable, we quickly learned that developing recyclable material is just one part of the complex equation.  We had to consider the entire lifespan of the cup, including what happens after it leaves our customers’ hands,” said Ben Packard, Starbucks’ vice president of global responsibility.  “This required bringing together the entire system of stakeholders with the expertise, the influence and the infrastructure to coordinate a fundamental shift, not only in our own operations, but in the entire food packaging and recycling industries.”

The report concludes by highlighting that corporations that haven’t optimized their approach to CSR may still be considered industry leaders. But not for much longer. CSR is already influencing how employees, customers, and stakeholders are deciding whom they’d prefer to follow.  The good news is that a path to high performance CSR has been uncovered and it’s possible to follow the leaders.


Become involved!

If you believe that involvement in AwF’s CSR program would be beneficial to our organizations, please complete the CSR Registration form and we will contact you to discuss possibilities.

Thank you for your interest in becoming involved with Aquaculture without Frontiers.

Roy Palmer