5 Stages of Corporate Citizenship. Read more here

5 Stages of Corporate Citizenship. Read more here

5 Stages of Corporate Citizenship

“… CSR and CSI initiatives are no longer just ‘nice to haves’ – they’re absolutely essential to your brand strategy.” – Call to Care

As companies are expected to contribute to society in a social and environmental way to address issues, corporate citizenship has become an ever increasingly important aspect of modern business. 

How does a company meet these expectations but also gain the benefits internally? By incorporating the five stages of corporate citizenship. This will assist in succeeding in a rapidly changing world, helping you stay up to date, compliant and relevant in this philanthropic-focused era.

It is worth considering incorporating these five stages of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

What benefits will you receive by investing in corporate citizenship?

Implementing corporate responsibility will take careful planning and strategy. But the benefits are vast.

  • Avoid potential legal, reputational and financial damages by addressing social and environmental issues proactively.
  • Improves brand reputation and leading to customer/client loyalty, employee engagement and positive media coverage.
  • Differentiate yourself from your competition and create a new market opportunity. 
  • Achieve cost savings while also reducing your environmental impact.  
  • Attract and retain top-tier employee talent.
  • Drive innovation and growth by developing new products, services, and business models that will address social and environmental needs and create shared value.  

DevMan clients that see the importance of CSR

Stage 1: Compliance

A man with PPE stands with arms folder with two other people behind him also wearing PPE. This is to show the Stage 1 Compliance aspect of the article: 5 Stages of Corporate Citizenship and how to use DevMan to simplify.

Complying of regulations comes first and foremost – not just actively looking for a way to make a positive contribution. It will be a crucial foundation to show that you are a responsible citizen.

The legal requirements could be any (and possibly all) of the following regulations and standards:

  • Environmental laws
  • Labour laws
  • Anti-corruptions laws
  • Health and safety laws

Above and beyond

While focusing on the mandatory laws, compliance can involve meeting voluntary standards and expectations, such as industry codes of conduct or sustainability standards. 

By going beyond what is needed, you show that you are committed to responsible business practices. This will build trust with your stakeholders.

This first stage of Corporate Social Responsibility is a crucial one since it’s the foundation for the rest of the journey. Do not forget your reasons for including and keeping compliance. It’s about doing the right thing because you value the well-being of others – internally and externally. It’s about building the foundation for future efforts in sustainability. By achieving this, you will set yourself up for success in the long run.

Step 2: Philanthropy and corporate citizenship

At this point, you will be engaging in charitable activities and contributing to your community. This is most often done through corporate foundations and employee volunteering programs.  

It’s becoming popular practice to have more of an impact on communities than simply writing a cheque to an organisation. Corporations are taking a more strategic and impactful approach when it comes to the different forms of giving.

Strategic philanthropy

It’s becoming popular practice to have more of an impact on communities than simply writing a cheque to an organisation. Corporations are taking a more strategic and impactful approach when it comes to the different forms of giving.

To achieve this, your philanthropic activities need to align with your business goals and values. There needs to be a shared value between both community and business. An example would be an outdoor gear company being involved in environmental conservation. 

Long-term partnerships with non-profit organisations is another strategy a company can take, instead of writing a once-off cheque. This way, you can leverage your unique skills and resources to create a greater impact while working closely with your chosen non-profit, creating a ripple effect of benefits for all.

Step 3: Integration

It is now time to start incorporating social and environmental considerations into your company’s core business operations and strategy. At this point in your CSR journey, corporate citizenship should not just be an add-on or afterthought, but rather an incredibly important aspect of how your company does business.

Integration can involve a number of practices, such as:

  • Developing sustainable products and services that meet social and environmental needs.
  • Improving supply chain practices to address issues such as fair labour, environmental sustainability and ethical sourcing.
  • Reducing environmental impacts through energy efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable resource use.
  • Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that values and empowers employees from all backgrounds.
  • Developing new business models that create shared value, such as social enterprises or circular economy models.

Create value in new and innovative ways by integrating corporate citizenship into your business model.
Devman Guide Corporate Social Responsibility Software Cover page

The DevMan Guide to

Corporate Social Responsibility Software

Step 4: Innovation

You will now become the leader in sustainability and environmental impact. You use your resources, expertise and influence to drive change systematically. You actively look for ways to create new solutions to social and environmental challenges.

What is involved in the innovation stage of corporate citizenship?

  • You will develop new products, services or technologies that address social or environmental needs, such as electric cars, affordable housing or clean energy solutions.
  • Creating new business models that will disrupt the traditional industries and strongly promote sustainability, such as a sharing or circular economy.
  • Addressing systematic issues such as climate change, poverty or inequality by collaborating with stakeholders. Your stakeholders can include non-profits, governments, and other companies.
  • Supporting initiative solutions to social and environmental challenges by investing in social entrepreneurship or impact investing.
  • Advocating for policy changes that promote sustainability and social impact. This could be policies such as carbon pricing, living wage laws or diversity and inclusion policies.

This innovation stage can help you stand out from your competitors. It could potentially allow you to tap into a new market and create long-term value for your business and for society, too. 

Step 5: Leadership

This is the pinnacle of your company’s journey towards sustainability and social responsibility. You surpass the boundaries of your own operations to drive change in your industry, community and everywhere else.


Leaders in corporate citizenship advocate for policy changes that support sustainable practices and social responsibility. Your influence is used to encourage givernments, indsutry groups, and other stakeholders to taken onpolicies and practices that promote sustainability and social impact.


Eventually you will realise that you cannot solve complex social and environmental challenges on your own. Assistance and collaboration is need from governments, NGOs, the community and stakeholders to drive these changes.

Goal-setting or reporting

Demonstrate your commitment to transparency and accountability and inspire others to follow your lead by publicly reporting on your progress. Make an impact by setting ambitious goals and taking everyone with you on your journey to achieving them.

Stakeholder engagement

Understand the stakeholder’s concerns and priorities. This is done through actively engaging with them. It will help your company to align its sustainability and social impact efforts with your stakeholder’s expectations. In the process, you build trust and loyalty.

Examples of companies incorporating CSR

BHB Billiton

BHP Billiton Development Trust South Africa is actively engaged in implementing, coordinating, and managing numerous sustainable development initiatives. These encompass areas such as education and training, capacity building, socio-economic development, and healthcare.

Notably, BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa, a subsidiary, has taken significant steps to prioritize environmental protection, enhance employee safety and security, and foster community support. Additionally, they are committed to empowering individuals, particularly women, to actively participate in and benefit from local mining and energy activities.

Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL)

Coal of Africa (CoAL) is dedicated to making a positive impact in South African communities and safeguarding the environment. Back in 2009, they made a bold commitment to invest R500 million in social and environmental projects over thirty years.

One of their flagship projects, the Vele coking coal project, not only aims to contribute to the local economy but also to create opportunities for employment. It’s anticipated to generate around 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, showing CoAL’s dedication to promoting local employment and sustainable development.

SAB Miller

SAB Miller and its South African subsidiary, SAM Ltd, the largest brewing company in the country, are committed to sustainable development. They had identified 10 key priorities, including community engagement, HIV/AIDS awareness, human rights, waste reduction, eco-friendly packaging, responsible drinking, water conservation, energy efficiency, supporting small businesses, and maintaining transparency and ethics.

In South Africa, their efforts have led to significant advancements in waste management, community outreach, and ethical business practices in recent years. While they continue to make strides in promoting responsible drinking and reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, their dedication to progress remains unwavering.

In 2024, they have already set their goals for 2025. This includes working toward transforming their facilities into breweries of the future, relying on renewable energy sources, and 100% recyclable product packaging. 

Standard Bank

Standard Bank, a leading financial institution in the country, is deeply committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). They allocate a significant portion of their annual social investment budget, which is never less than 1% of the prior year’s after-tax income from their South African operations.

In 2010, their corporate social investment reached R132 300 000, marking a remarkable 31% increase from 2009. Notably, in South Africa, 36.4% of these funds were dedicated to education programs, while 35.5% supported enterprise development. This underscores the bank’s emphasis on empowering individuals and fostering economic growth, among other socio-economic objectives.

Now, in 2024, Standard Bank has contributed R72.4 million to education, R67.9 million to the employee community, R8 million to Covid initiatives, and over R1 million to their OneFarm Share platform.

Do it with DevMan

The five stages of corporate citizenship will give you a good framework to implement. It allows for your company to progressively enhance your contribution and commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Each stage presents itself as the foundation to the next stage, helping you evolve and grow.

Taking on this framework creates value for both your company and society on the long run. These five steps to becoming a corporate citizen will enhance your reputation and mitigate risks, allowing you to contribute on a more meaningful way for the future in a sustainable way.  

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