Corporate Social Responsibility in 2021: Why it benefits you
Corporate Social Responsibility. That’s a long bit of jargon, but what does it mean for you and your business? It’s actually quite simple. Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is how businesses can bring about positive change, both within their company and outside of it. Big names like Google, Microsoft and Lego, all have CSR programmes in place, but the size of your business doesn’t matter when it comes to wanting to make a difference. Choosing to align yourself with programmes and organisations that seek to do good in the world can only be a positive thing.
Let’s chat about why it would be great for you to incorporate CSR into your brand strategy.
What does a CSR programme focus on?
Your CSR programme doesn’t necessarily need to focus on one area, but here are the three that socially responsible companies typically invest in, and that you should consider.
The environment has long been a hot topic of conversation, and with the momentum that surrounds the climate change movement, taking steps towards doing your part to help the cause is always a good idea. This could look like making changes to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible or looking into ways to reduce your waste. If you sell products, maybe you should consider switching to more sustainable packaging, or even better, minimising the amount of packaging involved.
Managing your resources sustainably, energy efficiency and sourcing products locally, are also excellent ways of contributing to environmental awareness. You’ll also be pushing your business and employees to do their part. Just make sure that you’re authentic about your intentions and that you follow up on your set goals. Otherwise, you could be accused of greenwashing; that is, misleading people into believing that you are being environmentally conscious when you’re not. This would result in more negative press rather than positive.
When it comes to philanthropy this could take on different forms. What’s important here is that the cause that you are contributing to aligns with your company’s overall mission and also, your business practices. Of course, you’re free to donate money to a great cause that is unrelated to your business, but if you partner with an organisation that falls in line with your company’s mission, then you will gain a boost in your company’s brand awareness.
For example, imagine a company that produces coffee. The coffee has to be grown and harvested by someone, and growing coffee also affects the environment it grows in. The company could take steps towards ensuring their employees who take care of the coffee plants receive a fair wage and work in good conditions. Then they could also partner with an environmental association that would encourage sustainable farming practices, to make sure as little damage as possible occurs to the area. These types of practices show that you’re genuine about your goals, not just to your customers, but to your employees and your shareholders too. You’re a serious business that is looking to do more than just make money, you’re looking to make an impact on the community within which you operate too.
Ethical Labour Practices
Another way that you can introduce a CSR strategy into your business, is through having ethical labour practices. Things like employee safety, fair wages, a healthy work environment (not just physically, but also mentally), and taking care of employee wellbeing, are all necessary to take into consideration. However, your ethical programme can go beyond this. How inclusive is your business? Have you created a culture and an environment that allows your employees to thrive?
Having training systems in place that allow your employees to get off on the right foot, and that allow you to communicate your company values clearly and effectively, are essential. How about socially inclusive programmes, such as those educating your employees on diversity and anti-racism? This is something that must be an ongoing practice within the company, and not simply a one-off event. In this way, you’ll establish a positive environment and culture for your employees to work in, which will in turn create a positive feedback loop for you. It means that your employees are more likely to give you their best work, and they will work collectively towards achieving company goals. You’re making sure that they’re being seen and heard.
Who does CSR stand to benefit?
Knowing which areas you should be investing in for your CSR programme, your next question is most likely, what are the benefits? In short, it actually benefits everyone involved, starting with your employees. Studies have shown that people are more likely to be more interested in working with a company that has a CSR programme in place, rather than those companies that don’t. The reason for this is simple, it shows there’s a purpose, it shows that there is a human element incorporated into the business they form part of. This means, you’ll not only have happy and healthy employees in the company but you’ll also be attracting the crème of the crop for potential employees too. Think about it, by enhancing your overall brand image, you’ll be sending a message to applicants that you are the best people to work for.
You’ll also be sending the right message to your customers. In 2021, people need to know that the money they’re investing in a service or a product is worth every penny. The past year has brought dramatic changes with it and people are becoming more sceptical and more conscious of what they’re contributing to. There’s also a greater awareness around certain issues, such as diversity, the environment, business practices, and more. Knowing this, why wouldn’t you want to show them what you really stand for?
Of course, you stand to benefit too. You’re taking steps to ensure you’ve got a smooth-running machine, and time you invest into your business is never time wasted. You’ll be encouraging brand awareness, revenue and you’ll be making an impact in more ways than one.
What do you need to do to launch a CSR programme?
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re looking to develop your CSR programme. To start, you’ll need to set out a clear definition of what social responsibility means for you, with short-term and long-term plans and goals which will keep you on track. In order for your CSR goals to take effect, your programme needs to be planned carefully, fully incorporated as part of your overall brand strategy to make sure that it’s aligned with your business practices. You might need to re-assess your company’s core values so that you’ll know how everything fits in together. It would be ideal to also have a way to report and track your progress, so that you’ll know where you stand in terms of reaching your goals, but you’ll also keep everyone involved in the loop too.
You should also make sure that everyone involved in your company at every level is made aware of the programme, starting with your employees and ending with you and your shareholders. Get feedback and input on the situation from them. In this way, you’ll make your social responsibility more of a company culture, rather than a tedious to-do list. Involving them means they’ll care about it too. It makes it more than just a gimmick. It would also serve you to ask your customers what they think. At the end of the day, they’ll be paying for your services and having shared values with you is one of the main reasons they have a relationship with your business at all.
If developing your brand image and incorporating a CSR programme into your business strategy sounds like something you want to invest in, here at Blonde and Giant we’re ready to help you take the next steps to push your business further. Contact us today to get on board.