Today, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more important than ever. In our increasingly socially conscious society, consumers and investors are making buying decisions based on the perceived priority of a company’s values. CSR has therefore become a key factor in branding your company and managing your reputation.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization defines CSR as “a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.” CSR should be grounded in a company’s core values or beliefs and flow from that. In an interview with Ad Age, Dell’s Chief Marketing Officer at the time, Karen Quintos, said, “When your CSR strategy is grounded in your company purposes, it becomes a lot more clear what and how you should be engaging with your people, communities and planet.” More than ever, consumers are looking to businesses to have a well-rounded CSR plan.
What can CSR do for you?
CSR can help build a stronger feeling of loyalty among your employees and improve your talent acquisition and recruitment efforts. Current and potential employees say they feel a stronger bond with a company that demonstrates shared values. CSR also can help shield you from some of the downsides of a crisis or attacks on the company by outside groups.
It can help you brand your company in a positive way, create better relationships with vendors and customers, and even improve your bottom line. It’s about building trust and demonstrating your company’s values. This Fortune article queried 181 CEOs about the purpose of a corporation.
Great CSR Examples
Practically, what are some great examples of companies who live and breathe CSR? Dawn dish soap uses their product to help save and clean up birds and small marine animals that are affected by natural or human-made disasters (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010). Over 75,000 birds and wild animals have been rescued and released back into the wild throughout the last forty years. Dawn uses this initiative to help educate consumers about protecting wildlife and keeping our oceans clean.
Coca-Cola is also well known for its leadership in CSR. They give back at least 1% of the company’s operating income to various initiatives and causes and have launched programs supporting clean drinking water and humanitarian aid. In the Middle East, Coca-Cola also launched its “Ripples of Happiness” program in 2012 that helps tackle youth unemployment. They provide college students with a six to eight week course that helps them develops the skills to become an entrepreneur. Coke is using its resources to make a big impact globally.
Hyundai, like Dawn, has been practicing CSR for years. In 1998, Hyundai created Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a program to find a cure for childhood cancer and support the families facing it. A portion of every new vehicle sale is given back to support grants for cancer research and overall awareness for pediatric cancer. They’ve raised over $160 million and supported more than 800 research grants.
CSR Isn’t Just Philanthropy
CSR should be a wide-ranging effort, not simply viewed as philanthropy (though that is important). It also offers a “halo effect” to help push causes the organization feels strongly about, as well as increase volunteering, pro bono work, advocacy and overall ethical business operations. Kerry Steibs, the Director of Social Impact at Spotify, said in an interview with Forbes, “I love that we’re seeing more and more people expect businesses to act with purpose – and not just to write a check, but to implement policies and programs that actually make sense with their business and drive real change.” Her statement about Spotify’s approach sums it up perfectly for every business striving to achieve excellent CSR. “As a company, we need to approach social impact with a deep sense of our unique perspective and value to the issues we care about.”
TVG can help your organization build a CSR program that is related to your core businesses, gets the most from your budget, and promotes these efforts on your website and in social media.
Call TVG at 314-991-4641 or email us at TVG@vandivergroup.com to learn more.