CSR has a big enemy inside the organizations: the “vertical” structures, the hierarchy. So, to implement CSR projects, the first thing you have to do is to understand that your main challenge is not to be a CSR manager, but to be a “change manager”.

Most of the company looks like a “Bar Code”: Each division / department usually behaves as an isolated island; they have its own objectives; their own budget; their own bosses. So… why are they going to open you the door and let you implement any project to affects their own responsibilities? Supply chain, is a procurement responsibility; diversity is a Human Resource responsibility; launching product & services for the base of the pyramid, is a commercial responsibility…

So, what are you going to offer them to be invited to work within their departments? I know is difficult, but let me give you some advices:

  1. Understand that CSR is transversal. Working transversally within a company is the mother of all the battles. Your main responsibility is to work across the company. But you must be clever enough to find some areas of responsibilities just to justify your own department: take those responsibilities that no other one in the company wants to take… but that give you some legitimacy within the company to start to work.
  2. Don’t fight again the beast: make friends & partners thinking like them. Use their language, not yours. But show then how you both have common interest and help them… Make the papers; write a lot… let them to sign the papers… Give them the power. Remember: you are not the star: you are the internal supplier. They have to get the pictures and the internal awareness.
  3. Introduce your friends to the others. Create a “social network” inside your company… ¡¡your own “intangible Facebook”!! The more friends you make, the better for you. You can’t live without them… but they can live perfectly without you. Make them to feel that they are changing the things, not you.
  4. Work with your external stakeholders. Work is much more than dialogue. Work is to help each other. Work is to share power. Work means that you have to promise them that you will defense their points of view inside your organization. So, they will probably defend you and your company into the outside world.
  5. Don’t make visible your strategy: otherwise it will fail because they will feel that you are increasing your power. One day things “will happened”… by luck: Supply chain, start to be an ethical chain; diversity will star to appears; the base of the pyramid will have its own and different products & services. CSR projects are about to be a real thing … by luck. The job is start to be done… by luck. You must disappear as soon as possible.

Don’t forget: if you see yourself as a CSR manager, it will be the beginning of your end. Remember: you are someone who helps the company to change, and you have to empower the rest of the executives to lead the CSR. So, you are not the star; you are a facilitator.


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