Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is a common term among companies and private agencies.
You may have read it on your employer’s newsletter, heard it from a friend who’s reaching out to a community, or randomly seen it from an advertisement.
But what really is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility, in its most basic form, is a company’s way of giving back to the community where it belongs. It is initiating efforts to share time, money and support to social, environmental or economic welfare efforts that give a positive impact to the world.
Some become leaders in addressing environmental issues by implementing climate change initiatives and starting up various foundations that would promote their vision. Others support shelters and orphanages, serve meals to senior citizens, build houses, tutor children, and plant trees.
It means a company’s sense of caring to the community which can be simply explained as being good is good business.
The goal of CSR efforts is to foster positive and meaningful developments, and not merely to add more funds to the executives’ pockets.
It is a response to all the years of concentrating on profit, and finally giving back to the community where it owes much of it earnings to.
Consumers today are now looking for more than just high-quality products and services when they request for services or make purchases. More than the prices and demands, they’re prioritising CSR and holding corporations accountable for effecting social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits.
Cone Communications’ CSR study paints a picture of redefining and pushing the traditional boundaries of what corporate social responsibility means. While the tenants of social responsibility will continue to be grounded in tangible, operational elements – such as ethical workplace practices or energy efficiency – companies are now demanded to share more intangible values – such as what they stand for and what they are willing to stand up for.
What does this mean for your business and brand?
1. Identify what social and envi-ronmental issues your brand could be an advocate for, whether through impactful communications or tactical initiatives.
2. Bring your values to life through products, services and communications – your consumers will reward you.
3. Define your brand’s purpose and how it comes to life across your entire business – your consumers expect this now.
4. Don’t forget your employees. Purpose is a rich way to engage your internal ambassadors.
5. Understand and articulate how your company is contributing to economic development, or whether that is a material driver or not.
6. Have meaningful conversa-tions but not shying away from tough topics – start by identi-fying the social justice issues that most align with your brand values.
7. Communicate your social impact efforts at point of sale as consumers are voting with their hearts and wallets.
8. Prioritise long-term commit-ments and efforts over short-term or one-off tactics.
9. Share the good that you’re doing, while also recognising that it is a continuous journey and one that you’re committed to be on.
10. Give customers a way to share, act or amplify your purpose in meaningful, emotional and authentic ways. (Source: wefirstbranding.com)
Sustainability is vital for business success. Thus, CSR.
Recognising how important social responsibility is to their customers, many companies now focus on and practice a few broad categories of CSR:
1. Environmental efforts: One primary focus of corporate social responsibility is the envi-ronment. Businesses, regard-less of size, have a large carbon footprint. Any steps they can take to reduce those footprints are considered both good for the company and society as a whole.
2. Philanthropy: Businesses can also practice social responsi-bility by donating money, products or services to social causes. Larger companies tend to have a lot of resources that can benefit charities and local community programmes.
3. Ethical labour practices: By treating employees fairly and ethically, companies can also demonstrate their corporate social responsibility. This is especially true to businesses that operate in international locations with labour laws that differ from those in the US.
4. Volunteering: Attending volun-teer events says a lot about a company’s sincerity. By doing good deeds without expecting anything in return, companies are able to express their concern for specific issues and support for certain organisa-tions. (Source: businessnews-daily.com)
Corporate Social Responsibility has become a major part of a company’s mandatory requirement but maintaining that commitment is only possible by finding out what works for one.
As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give”.