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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability: How Can CSR Be Sustainable?

How do Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability work together? In today’s article, you learn what Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility is and how it can benefit your organization.

Want to learn more about CSR and sustainability? Read on! 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility? 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the practice by organizations to pursue pro-social objectives, while they maximize profit. For example, CSR objectives can promote volunteerism, donate to charity, and improve sustainable practices. 

CSR is typically implemented by larger corporations, but there are also plenty of smaller businesses that use CSR strategies. CSR is equally beneficial for both types of organizations, as we’ll see here below. 

Why do companies then choose to adhere to CSR practices? Let’s take a look. 

What is the benefit of CSR? 

CSR practices can help organizations create a strong brand, improve brand awareness, and to fulfill their moral responsibility towards the wider society. 

In fact, it’s easy to see why CSR is non-negotiable these days. 

According to the Aflac’s 2019 CSR survey, 77% of consumers say they want to buy from companies that are committed to making the world a better place. 73% of investors say that efforts to improve the environment and society impact their investment decisions. 

41% of millennial investors put significant effort into understanding organizations’ CSR practices. Only 27% of Gen X and 16% of baby boomers do the same. 

25% of consumers and 22% of investors say that they have a zero-tolerance policy towards organizations that aren’t acting ethically. 

Plus, CSR helps companies attract employees, too. 93% of employees believe that companies should lead with purpose. 

How is CSR monitored? 

But how is CSR monitored? The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released ISO 26000 in 2010. This is a set of voluntary standards that help companies implement CSR. It includes guidance, not requirements, because these standards can’t be certified or officially acknowledged.

ISO 26000 can be implemented by all types of organizations. It clarifies and unifies the international consensus of what Corporate Social Responsibility is. 

What is the relationship between CSR and sustainability? 

Now you know what CSR is. But what is the difference between CSR and corporate sustainability? 

Corporate sustainability is the practice of creating long-term stakeholder value by focusing on strategies that are ethically, socially, environmentally, culturally, and economically beneficial. 

So as you can see, CSR is broader in scope, even though CSR does address sustainability and environmental issues. That’s why “Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility” is a better term for organizations that want to improve their sustainability. 

How do companies achieve Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility? 

Just as CSR is a wide field and can include many different measures, SCSR is, too. The measures you take as a company depend on your industry and needs. For example, some typical measures include:

  • Auditing and assessments 
  • Certifications 
  • Contingency plans 

But why should you invest in SCSR? Let’s take a look. 

What is the ROI of CSR and sustainability? 

What can Sustainable CSR ultimately do for your organization? 

As we’ve discussed, CSR comes with a number of benefits for your organization. And if we look at sustainability specifically, the impact can be even bigger. In fact, these days it’s good business practice to take sustainability into consideration. As we’ll see below, this includes a higher ROI.

Today, $22.89 trillion assets are being professionally managed under responsible investment strategies. This has increased by 25% since 2014. It’s clear that sustainability is a top issue for many investors.

Plus, an organization that invests in its sustainability now will reap competitive advantages later on, as the competition might not invest similarly in SCSR. And an effort to improve sustainability at an organization can also be an opportunity to innovate.

Sustainability efforts can mean concrete savings, too. A study estimated that companies experience, on average, an internal rate of return of 27% to 80% on their low carbon investments. Proper auditing, such as commissioning, can help your organization save various resources: water, energy, and so on. 

That’s not to mention climate risks. Most companies are exposed to risks related to a changing climate (such as supply chain disruptions and a loss of assets that are vulnerable to natural disasters). 

And finally, sustainable companies tend to perform better. A study by the University of Oxford and Arabesque reviewed the academic literature on corporate performance and sustainability. It turns out that out of 200 studies, 90% concluded that good ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards lower the cost of capital. According to 88% of the studies, they result in better operational performance and 80% show that stock price performance is positively correlated with these standards. 

According to one study, news that covered a company’s environmental and social responsibility was the only significant factor for people’s intent to buy. 

Also, between 2006 and 2010, the top 100 sustainable companies in the world reported much higher sales growth, profit before taxation, return on assets, and cash flows from operations in some sectors, when they were compared to control companies. 

Our own sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility services start with understanding your objectives and your national and international commitments. Based on an assessment, we recommend the best projects or activities for a successful CSR strategy. 

The strategy depends on your needs, your industry, and so on. The topics we cover range from energy, environment, social responsibility, commissioning, and more. 

Because we at Alpin work in various industries, including several high-profile projects in the GCC and MENA, we are experienced in implementing different types of project needs. 

Here are a few of our case studies

For example, we acted as the official Design Independent Commissioning Authority at the Dubai World Expo. 

Aerial view of Expo 2020
                                               Expo 2020 Masterplan (Source: Expo 2020)

Alpin consultants also work on many infrastructure projects, such as consulting the Abha Airport in their sustainability practices, as well as commercial projects, including sustainability consulting for the 2D Interior Design Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

We offer the following SCSR services: 

Carbon tracking

We use analytics, data, and our expertise to calculate carbon emissions of any operational entity or activity. This helps us understand what aspects generate the most carbon emissions and advise you on how you can reduce or minimize your impact. One of our key services in this is our Life Cycle Assessment service.

Impact Assessments

Impact assessments help us evaluate operational requirements so that we can identify and quantify the potential impact of operations on the environment, economy, and society. This can involve Gap Analysis, Risk Assessment, and an action plan. These can ultimately be put together into a policy that you confirm and implement to carry out preventative actions on your operations. 


Our advisory services are case-by-case services that assess your situation and objectives. We then provide you with recommendations with a high ROI to ensure that our CSR strategies work now and in the future. 

GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards

We can also help you set up frameworks for GRI Reporting. We manage and complete the full scope of sustainability reporting. For example, one of our related services is to support listed companies with their Annual Sustainability Reports. 

GRESB Reporting

GRESB Reporting focuses on investments in real estate and infrastructure. Similar to GRI Reporting, we manage and complete sustainability reporting for you.

ISO Certification

The Alpin team includes experienced Sustainability Advisors and Energy Managers who support you in auditing your energy performance and setting up strategies to improve it. We also continuously monitor energy performance to support you in achieving ISO 50001 certification.

Over to you!

There you have it. Now you know how CSR and sustainability work together and what corporate sustainability can do for your organization.


Want to learn more about our Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility services? Read more here!