Corporate social responsibility or CSR is your organization’s conscience. Your logo tells prospective clients what you do; your CSR tells them who you are at your core. While price and quality have always been the major yardsticks by which consumers determine who they’ll do business with, those metrics don’t cut it anymore. Today, customers want to deal with companies that take proactive responsibility for their impact on the environment, their local, national and international communities, employees and stakeholders.
CSR is no longer a nice-to-have
CSR is no longer just about being good for your bottom line or a nice-to-have when things settle down. It’s been a while since it was enough to just talk the talk. In today’s economic and political climate, it’s imperative if you want your company to stay in business. Customers are digging deeper to learn more about a company’s policies and business practices and spending their money accordingly. The perception of ‘doing good’ just isn’t enough anymore. The public – your customers, clients, users and buyers – are demanding action and results. More and more frequently, their spending dollars are determining whether companies stay and or go. And that doesn’t just affect your bottom line; it is your bottom line.
businesses are already taking action
It seems that businesses committed to longevity are already on board the CSR train. Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review reported “among the largest 250 companies in the world, 92% produced a CSR report in 2015, informing shareholders and the public about the firm’s activities… up from 64% in 2005. Today, Fortune Global 500 firms spend around $20 billion a year on CSR activities.”
the power of an authentic CSR strategy
Authenticity is everything when it comes to CSR strategy. The survival of small businesses and large ones alike depend on smaller doses of the same need for growth, stability and profitability that large corporations have. Just as their conglomerate cousins must do, small businesses must also showcase their positive impact on society is part of the value they bring to customers so they can feel good about doing business with them. It’s often the deciding factor when consumers choose who to purchase from. However, customers also look for CSR that aligns with the fabric of the company. For companies built on natural or organic promises, that extension is easy. For others with
Accountability, transparency, sustainability, inclusivity, ethics – these aren’t just buzzwords. They tell the public you’re conscious of how your organization affects society and the environment; your CSR strategy is your promise to ensure you affect positive change within your organization and in support of your industry.
CSR as a talent attraction tool
Philanthropy, volunteer efforts, gender equality strategies and sustainability don’t just attract prospective employees to your organization; they increase retention, boost morale and create employees who are more deeply engaged, motivated and committed because their employer’s values align with their own. Conversely, employees disengage and cease working to their potential when they feel their organization’s CSR is functioning only to benefit from it. Or when it’s nonexistent. Organizations have to walk the walk. Simply talking about causes you support is meaningless if there’s no follow-through.
In a dynamic, constantly changing world of work, it’s CSR that will provide not only real, measurable advantages to your organization, but also opportunities to effect meaningful change in a world increasingly desperate for it.