What Are the Different Types of Corporate Social Responsibility? 

In this episode we discuss several types of corporate social responsibility (CSR) including diversity, equity and inclusion, supply chain, environmental/sustainability, employee engagement, corporate philanthropy, and governance. We also explore what and how to choose from the different types with when starting a new CSR program. 

Watch the episode:


Prefer to listen:

Read what we discussed:

Karl Yeh:

Now, today I'm joined by Nicole Campbell, CSR expert, and we are going to talk about what are the four types of corporate social responsibility. So, Nicole, let's go over these four types.

Nicole Campbell:

First of all, there's [00:01:00] more than four.

You're completely wrong.

And I think some companies will even expand more than, I say there's usually five or six, but some companies even have more.

So, we've talked about this in other videos that CR, corporate responsibility, and some of the components of it are often used interchangeably.

So, some companies will refer to their CR program that's basically just the employee [00:01:30] engagement aspect of it, employee giving and matching, when really there's a lot of other components that are supposed to be working with one another to have a really comprehensive and integrated strategy.

So to talk about the components, if that's what you're looking for:

Types of CSR

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

There is DE&I, diversity, equity and inclusion.

And so, this is hiring practices, making sure that a company is inclusive and equitable, [00:02:00] as well as ensuring that they are also trying to educate and up level the information that their own people have around this very topic.

So, unconscious bias training, as an example.

Supply Chain

Then we have supply chain.

So, just ensuring that companies are ethical in the vendors and suppliers that they're working with. Because as you know, pro social behavior extends not just within the company walls but who you're working with.

And you can really [00:02:30] role model those positive behaviors and support communities by having an ethical supply chain process.


Then we have environmental or sustainability.

So, this is how companies are reducing their urban footprint. And then they can even engage their people in these actions.

So, having no waste campaigns, or ride a bike to work campaign.

So you can do it from a corporate level, but also from the employee level. And this is why all of these various components of CR interrelate.

Employee Engagement

Then we have employee [00:03:00] engagement.

So this would be employee giving and volunteering, engaging people in campaigns around, like we talked about before, environmental things even though that fits within an employee engagement team.

Corporate Philanthropy

And then we have corporate philanthropy.

So these are large sums of money typically given to organizations in a strategic way.

So often these are aligning to the company's core values or purpose or what they're doing as a business, their core competencies.

And this can [00:03:30] look like dollars. It could look like product donations.

So, for instance, if you work for a big software company, maybe you are donating that software to not for profits, as an example.


And then the last is governance.

And governance looks a little bit different between companies, but sometimes it's just the legal requirements to give back and do various things, that it's for a fiduciary duty. 

Some companies [00:04:00] have one or two, some of them have all.

And then, the tricky thing is, sometimes these fit under one leader or a foundation, but then in a lot of companies they are on disparate teams and they're not working together.

And that is a huge opportunity to pull those threads together to have a more cohesive strategy.

Karl Yeh:

So, for larger organizations or larger CSR programs, let's say, there would be, I guess, different people or different, I don't know, teams running [00:04:30] every single one of these types, right?

Nicole Campbell:

Yeah. Ideally in a perfect world, they all sit under a vice-president or a senior leader who's ensuring that the teams are working together with a shared strategy, even though they might have their own individual goals and things like that.

But in more cases than not, typically because CSR programs have evolved over time with more money and more expectations from the communities and their employees, [00:05:00] that they're adding these teams in a more responsive way in various business units that have the money to support them and they're not even talking to each other.

So, I've been in companies who have a sustainability team who is not working with the employee engagement team.

Oh my gosh.

Imagine if they pull those pieces together and doubled down on some of the work that they were doing, it would be incredible.

Which CSR type do you start with when starting a new program?

Karl Yeh:

So, let's go back.

Let's say you don't have a large CSR program or you're just starting out, how would one go about incorporating [00:05:30] these six types into their program?

Or do you maybe start with one or two and then build it up?

Nicole Campbell:

I think it's an awareness thing.

Because I think too now there are corporate social responsibility practitioners that have gone to school for it, or not even, have just been doing it for a long time and they've seen what CSR should actually be versus these little programs budding in companies over time and growing without having a clear focus of where they need to be.

So now, if [00:06:00] you're a CSR practitioner, you know these are the components, this is where you want to get.

And then you can start highlighting this with your leaders, and maybe you start with one or two, but you recognize the end goal is to get to all five or six.

And I think that's easier to have that eye on the prize versus working backwards and trying to fill in some of the gaps.

And if I were to start with a couple, it really depends on where your company's at and what they need.

So employee engagement is a huge aspect of it, and something that [00:06:30] if you're looking at these programs from, not just doing good but a brand perspective, your employees are the people in the communities volunteering and building relationships with not-for-profits, and people are seeing your t-shirts out in the community as an example.

Nicole Campbell:

So, if an employee engagement is a huge opportunity to scale some of that stuff, corporate philanthropy, I mean, if you're a growing company you should just be thinking about giving a percentage of your pre-tax revenue.

So [00:07:00] as you grow, you've already built that into how you run your business.

Those ones are really great.

And any sort of environmental aspects to your program, DE&I, those you can include too.

It doesn't have to be a huge big initiative in the beginning, but just having the mindset and a few initiatives around it can really take you further than you might expect.

Karl Yeh:

I would imagine employee engagement and corporate philanthropy would probably be the first two [00:07:30] to go up because, I don't know, I can't say if they're the easiest, but they're the first ones that are like most apparent.

The one that I'm kind of interested because of my background, and this is supply chain. Could you go a little bit deeper into the supply chain aspect?

Supply chain and CSR

Nicole Campbell:

And to your point, if you focus on philanthropy and the employee engagement aspect of it, you can pull in threads of DE&I.

So you could have affinity networks that are volunteering with organizations like, [00:08:00] that support Black Lives Matter, as an example, or the environmental piece too.

You can run campaigns through your employees that are still doing things that are green and sustainable. So, that's a really good point.

From a supply chain perspective that is typically done through, it's a compliance thing.

So, as an example, some companies won't even work with a partner unless they are certified B Corp.

And [00:08:30] B Corp is a set of criteria that makes you be known as a socially responsible company, as one example. Others say they're working with suppliers overseas.

They want to make sure that there's no child slavery going on and some of those really terrible things that they don't want to support.

And so they can be ethical in who they're sourcing as their partners as part of their corporate responsibility program.

Karl Yeh:

[00:09:00] When I think of supply chain, I think of more of the traditional supply chain, right? From creation to getting to your door.

Right? But it's a very interesting component of the six types that you outlined here

So, Nicole, I guess the last part I want to touch [00:09:30] on is the environmental and sustainability part.

And I know in previous videos we've talked about the ESG component of CSR, but how does the environmental and sustainable part play into CSR?



Because from my experience in previous organizations, or even just thinking about different organizations, wouldn't they have their own environmental and sustainability programs that are maybe outside of CSR?

Environmental/Sustainability and CSR

Nicole Campbell:

So, sometimes the sustainability is one of those other ones that's used interchangeably.

The thing is,

if you have an environmental or sustainability team working in your company that’s not aligning to the broader CSR goals, it’s just a lost opportunity there.

You can really, again, double down on some of these initiatives.

As an example, if you are at an organizational level [00:10:30] trying to use less electricity, and use less waste within your company, and buying, say, if you have 90,000 employees not buying reusable cups for your kitchen, those small decisions it can be coupled with employee related programs and engagement programs that their people are running and leading and facilitating and advocating for similar things.

So, just gives you that extra [00:11:00] support without the extra team, if you think critically about it.

And I think that these two are big advocates of the environment too based on how they're dancing right now.

So yeah, I feel like that piece should be wrapped into CR. It shouldn't be separate. And [inaudible 00:11:20] can be facilitated and overseen by a different leader.

They should be worked together at minimum.

Karl Yeh:

So, do you have anything else to add in terms of [00:11:30] the six types that you discussed today?

Nicole Campbell:

No. I think it pretty much covers it. I feel like you could just do some research on all of those, but I think just recognizing there are more than one or two components of CSR is a really great [inaudible 00:11:41] stuff.

Karl Yeh:

So, if you want to know more about the benefits of corporate social responsibility, you got to check out this video here, as well as this playlist to learn how to build a corporate social responsibility program from scratch.

Thanks for watching and we'll see you in our next episode.



Question for you

How have you used any of these types in your programs and what were the results? 


About Nicole Campbell:

Nicole’s passion for behavioral science plays a key role in her ability to help organizations manage and adapt to change. 

Nicole has worked with companies of all sizes, industries, program varieties, and varying levels of executive support — and has had a hand in designing or growing Social Impact programs for some of the biggest brands out there. Her role, working with so many different companies, has provided her with a wealth of experience, data and anecdotes that have shaped a strong understanding of what works, what doesn’t and what’s next.