What is CSR? CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and is a business’s approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits. It is also the initiatives by which a company takes responsibility for its effect on social and environmental wellbeing. In essence, CSR looks beyond the company profits and focuses on benefitting the greater community.
In recent years, CSR has become somewhat of a buzzword as corporate relationships with non-profit organisations have become more and more important. But why now?
A recent report from Reputation Institute, as published in Forbes magazine, found that 42% of how people feel about a company is based on their perception of its CSR activities. This means that nearly half of a company’s reputation is based on the public’s feelings about what the company is doing to support the community.
There are some forms of CSR which are now expected. There was once a time when thinking ahead to include recycling within your company’s core values meant you would be winning awards for being environmentally conscious. Now, recycling is the norm and over 80% of office waste is recyclable. Doing other things such as installing energy-saving lightbulbs or using alternative energy sources are huge factors in showing the public that your company is taking CSR seriously.
It is also important to have a cause. Charitable giving has been on the rise for the past decade or so. Businesses are now expected to give back as a way of showing they are socially responsible. Anonymous donations are great, but even better is aligning your company with a non-profit organisation of your choosing, which in turn gives your company a charitable identity.
Having a CSR programme will not only improve a company’s image but will also improve things such as media coverage, employee engagement and retaining and attracting investors/ clients. However, when choosing to develop a CSR programme within a company, it is important to not limit what sorts of programmes a company aligns with. When properly implemented, CSR should become ingrained within the company culture and core values. There are several reasons as to why companies should embrace CSR:
Engage customers/ clients
- Building relationships and rapport with both customers and clients is obviously important within any company, and having a social responsibility policy can impact this.
- Using CSR can also help you engage with your customers in new ways. Since the message of CSR is about something ‘good’ it can often be an easy way to connect with your customers or clients
- Creating this positive relationship with customers/ clients and the wider community can lead to potential increase in sales and rising profits.
Improve company brand
- Being socially responsible can strengthen both a company’s brand and image. As mentioned, the public perception of a company is critical to client confidence. By portraying a positive image through taking part in CSR projects, a company can make a name for itself for not only being successful in what they do but by being socially conscious too.
- Also, by engaging actively and positively within the community, companies’ employees could be interacting with potential customers, indirectly marketing the company in the process.
- Companies that actively promote their social responsibility activities, can take steps to publicise these efforts through the media. Getting the word out about corporate donations, or other CSR initiatives is a powerful branding tool that can help build publicity, for you in both online and print media.
- Employees tend to perform better when they engage in socially responsible activities. Good CSR programmes are proven to effectively build leaders and team members more economically than things such as training and conferences.
- People also want to work at a company who have CSR ambitions in place – as a company’s greatest asset is its people. Corporate responsibility can help a company to build the best team possible as companies which demonstrates impact initiatives, will have an easier time recruiting talent!
Social good encourages innovation and collaboration
- When employees engage in social good activities, it is proven that they become more innovative and collaborative.
- A lot of skills can be developed when taking part in any kind of CSR activity and beyond this, employees are able to learn about potential clients, develop their communication skills, improve leadership and gain invaluable local insights.
- In turn, these new skills can develop within the workforce and allow the company to flourish within its market. If the employees are happy, their work will be of a higher quality.
It is a moral obligation
- Domestically – businesses need to give back to the communities and nations that provided them the opportunity to succeed.
- Globally – economic and security concerns/events can immediately have a negative global impact. Investing, developing, and doing-no-harm will strengthen all sectors of business.
"In recent years, CSR has become somewhat of a buzzword as corporate relationships with non-profit organisations have become more and more important. But why now?"
Of course, this is not the whole range of CSR that a company can do, nor all the reasons a company should be involved in CSR. Public opinion and what is expected of a company will change all of the time. CSR involvement should also be lead from the top, it’s important to give employees the responsibility which means they can then they are able to take ownership. For now, though, it is important to do all you can, be proactive and establish a clear CSR plan which will not only improve the company brand and reputation, but also employee experience, customer or client experience.
By Winnie Ellis-Hall - Admin Assistant