What is corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the practice of businesses giving back to the community. Be it through environmental, social or economic initiatives that they implement whilst upholding the quality of their brand. Some business owners see this as a radical self-regulation policy as many companies would please their shareholders over other constituents throughout a company’s lifespan.
With the increase in the use of social media and digital marketing, it is harder for businesses to get away without being in the spotlight. These platforms make it a lot easier for new and existing customers to see the company’s corporate social responsibility through the posts they make and share. This is because corporate social responsibility has been seen as more important by customers in recent years.
Most companies demonstrate their social responsibility through ethical and sustainable ways, such as championing human rights for minority groups and showing everyone the ways in which they save energy.
However, there are other ways businesses can improve their corporate social responsibility, and the definition varies from each company. For example, some businesses celebrate innovations when it comes to their most-loved products whilst maintaining the brand’s value. Most companies that implement corporate social responsibility strategies have grown their businesses so much that they can afford to give back to society.
Examples of Corporate social responsibility:
- Starbucks: By 2025, the company wants to reach 100% ethically sourced coffee, create a global network of farmers, plant 100 million trees and develop a global network of farmers, according to its 2020 Global Social Impact Report. Contributing millions of hours of community service, providing a groundbreaking college program to its employees, and pioneering green building throughout their stores are also in their strategy.
- Rolex: Four years in a row, Rolex has been ranked among the top 10 most reputable companies in the world. By anchoring its values in high-profile personalities, the brand can create an emotional connection between its products and its company. As an example, Roger Federer is regarded by many as an icon of excellence (Rolex is well regarded for its quality of products) and resilience.
- The Lego Group: Lego is in the top 10 list of most reputable companies in the world for the third consecutive year. Its holistic storyline based on sustainability, education, and societal contributions already has a steady and strong presence in Denmark and around the world. They recently began using sugarcane plastics as a replacement for plastics derived from petroleum. This is another example of how the company is promoting CSR values.
The importance of corporate social responsibility:
According to The 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR study, an astonishing 91% of global consumers expect businesses to have responsible operations that address social and environmental concerns. And, a further 84% say they seek out companies who take accountability and are transparent when buying products wherever possible.
If anything, the pandemic has shown us that companies need to look after everything their business is tied to in order to attract and maintain relationships with their customers. These figures can only prove the emerging importance clients place on the business’ corporate social responsibility.
It is very important for growing companies to express these practices they are carrying out early on as they can reach more people who are interested in ethical practices. Many business owners believe that by having a corporate social responsibility strategy, it can help them beat their competitors. Although the strategy needs to be sustainable otherwise the company may take more losses than gains.
Through a successful corporate social responsibility strategy, a company can raise the visibility of their brand in the community and attract new clients. Which is why it is important for businesses to make one and stick to it so they can yield results.
The impact of CSR:
The consequences of having a corporate social responsibility strategy are mostly positive for companies. Making a partnership with overseas or startup companies can help them reduce spending and reduce risks. This has been seen through companies such as Cabury’s here in the UK who partnered with Fair trade to ethically source the cacao for their chocolate bars.
By partnering with sustainable companies, your business can also be certain that you will be investing into your own business’ future-proofing. By investing in sustainable businesses, you will also be investing in sustainable economies too, which can trickle into the wider economy, something we all need to make an effort with as we move to renewable energy practices.
Many companies have adopted measures to reduce their environmental impact, such as installing renewable energy sources or purchasing carbon offsets, to improve the sustainability and efficiency of their operations.
Lots of companies also now have specific pledges available to view against modern slavery and unethical production practices, which also inlcudes child slavery. This is because corporate social responsibility strategies included multiple practices to manage, such as the supply chains, and not just the company’s branding.
Employee engagement is also improved when a company has a good public image. You’re also more likely to attract and retain the best candidates if you demonstrate that you care about social issues like human rights.
Company tips for Corporate Social Responsibility
Many modern businesses have an employee handbook which outlines the ways the company looks after it’s employees. However, it is a great place to outline the business code of ethics which your company should look to create. A business code of ethics outlines employee conduct concerning ethics, values, environment, diversity, employee respect, and customer service.
Establish policies and practices that allow your business to comply with its environmental commitments. For example, you could produce a report documenting your company’s environmental activities and results. Many big companies have been known to share this information with everyone to show their transparency and commitment to saving the planet.
Make sure you use marketing techniques that reflect your company’s integrity and are fair and honest. Avoid any advertising that could be construed as manipulative or detrimental. Some companies have been caught out by this in their environmental pledges. Greenwashing occurs when a business brags about its green practices while still engaging in harmful practices.
It is common for manufacturing companies to donate to communities where they have sites, as a means of giving back to society and promoting the values of their brand. And others give back to the wider community, for example, here at Bright Utilities, we are partnered with the International Tree Foundation as we plant 10 trees for every switch we help happen.
Little changes such as these can help your business expand and gain more attention to help it grow in a positive way that gives back to everyone else! Everyone’s a winner!