Regardless of your profession, you’ve likely heard the term “Corporate Social Responsibility” thrown around a time or two. But, have you ever wondered what it really means? The simple answer is this: corporate social responsibility, or CSR. CSR is how a business operates to better society rather than just increases profits. While it sounds simple on paper, the truth is that to implement CSR into your business, and to do it well, takes some thought.
Why CSR Matters
Before you go about examining your own CSR practice, it’s important to understand the “why” behind it. Specifically, you should look at why it matters to your organization. You should also look at why it matters to your audience (or your consumers).
Why It Matters To Your Organization
Implementing a CSR program can help your organization in a number of ways. The most notable is its ability to improve reputation. As consumers, employees and other stakeholders become more aware of global issues and the impact of their actions on the world, they tend to support more organizations that care about these issues. Along with boosting a business’ reputation, practicing CSR also comes with other benefits such as:
- Reduced Operating Costs
- Lower Emissions and Reduced Carbon Footprint
- Increased Brand Recognition
- Increased Customer and Employee Loyalty
- Attract New Employees
- Increased Profit/Revenue
Why It Matters To Your Audience
Practicing CSR is equally, if not more, important to your audience members. To them, it’s not as much about what your company does or what products you sell, but how you are perceived by the rest of the world. They also care about how you produce your goods/products and how you treat others (consumers, employees, stakeholders, etc.). Research shows that 90 percent of consumers claim they would purchase a product or invest in a service because the organization behind it supported an issue they care about. Audience members use CSR to evaluate whether or not to invest in your business. Additionally, they also see it as a way to hold a business accountable.
How To Implement CSR
There’s no “right” way to practice corporate social responsibility. In fact, CSR can be broken up into at least four different areas. Your organization can choose to incorporate all four or it can focus on ones specific to its values and operations.
Most individuals already associate this area with CSR. To combat negative environmental effects, more and more companies are turning toward “greener” business practices. These can be simple changes. For example a company could implement a recycling program or reduce the amount of documents that get printed. Do you even need all those hardcopy files for the meeting anyway? There are also more in-depth solutions to consider. These involve changing manufacturing materials, installing solar panels, or even leading initiatives to remove single-use plastic items.
Some organizations may choose to give back by means of donating money to certain causes or nonprofits. Several businesses do this already when they choose to host annual fundraising galas or sponsor events such as a race to raise money for certain cancers. There are so many causes, both local and global, that could use the support. It’s all about finding the right one for your organization.
Ethical Labor Practices
In recent months, companies have begun to shift their CSR efforts from sustainability to labor practices. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, employees in need of better health care, flexible work schedules and, in some cases, hazard pay, are turning to their employers for assistance. Among times of unrest and protests against racism, many businesses also began emphasizing their values and zero-tolerance policies. And, if you’ve been following news headlines, those who take care of their employees are seen as more favorable than those that do not.
Volunteering is a small, yet simple way for companies to get involved with their community. Perhaps it’s collecting canned goods for a local food pantry, cleaning kennels at the humane society or building homes for those in need. Along with getting your name out into the community, gathering employees together to help service others can boost morale.
A Final Note On CSR
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that corporate social responsibility is all about engaging other people. This includes both employees and audience members. While you want to promote your activities and let others know what your organization is doing to be more socially conscious, CSR is not about making yourself “look better.” Enhancing your reputation and, potentially, your bottom line, is merely a side effect of your efforts.
At Cork Tree Creative, we have helped clients in various industries improve their CSR efforts. Additionally, we help promote them internally throughout their organization to their employees, as well as externally to their consumers. Give us a call today to learn more! 618-656-7333