Corporate Social Responsibility – Engaging With Communities and Causes
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to businesses’ commitment to supporting both their communities and society as a whole through various practices and efforts, such as philanthropy and community volunteering, environmental efforts, changing production or purchasing processes in order to reduce pollution or natural resource consumption, as well as upholding ethical labor practices.
Effective CSR initiatives must reflect authentically upon a business’s culture and goals; otherwise they risk appearing like greenwashing.
1. Engage with Local Government
CSR can range from engaging with local governments on issues of zoning and environment to helping improve community social welfare, such as joining efforts with programs for ocean plastic reduction or providing food to homeless shelters. Establishing strong supplier and employee policies also contribute to CSR initiatives – such as making sure suppliers pay living wages to their workers while not exploiting them, or developing strong code of ethics policies to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and encourage diversity within workplaces.
Companies should avoid engaging in greenwashing or token CSR initiatives that serve only marketing goals. For the greatest impact, companies should strive for CSR activities that align with their business goals and values – this way companies will reap benefits such as customer trust increases as well as improved worker morale and productivity and reduced operational costs as a result of sustainable practices.
2. Reach Out to Local Nonprofits
Today’s consumers, donors, and business partners seek companies whose values align with theirs – this is especially true of companies engaging in CSR initiatives such as donations or volunteering programs.
Companies participating in such programs increase the likelihood that nonprofit organizations engaging with them are supported, either financially through corporate gift matching, or with in-kind contributions such as sponsorship or employee volunteerism. This bodes well for nonprofits engaging with these programs to receive support. This can take the form of corporate donation matching, sponsorships or employee volunteerism from these businesses.
TIAA has created volunteer councils in 18 markets to give employees more freedom in meeting local philanthropic goals, while Johnson & Johnson has been undertaking environmental CSR efforts since 1986.
As part of its participation, companies may promote these initiatives on their website and marketing channels – helping nonprofits reach new audiences who would otherwise remain unaware of their missions.
3. Encourage Employee Volunteering
Establishing and running an effective corporate volunteer program takes effort, but its rewards make the investment worth while. Employees who take part in community outreach tend to feel more engaged with their workplace and may even perform better overall. Furthermore, businesses that promote volunteerism among their staff gain a positive standing within local communities.
Companies use corporate social responsibility initiatives as an effective recruiting strategy, particularly among millennials. A recent survey cited 82% of millennials taking into consideration CSR efforts when selecting an employer for work.
CSR encompasses environmental efforts, animal conservation projects, philanthropic donations, ethical labor practices and assuring products are ethically sourced. Whatever practices a business chooses for its CSR initiatives, they must remain authentic to its core values otherwise they risk failing; especially in today’s increasingly aware consumer landscape.
4. Reach Out to Your Customers
As consumers become more cognizant of how their purchases impact local and global environments, more are looking for companies with a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Such business practices give companies a competitive edge in the marketplace while simultaneously increasing brand recognition.
Many companies that engage in corporate social responsibility also undertake environmental initiatives and charitable giving, to demonstrate their dedication to employees, customers and communities while supporting causes that reflect their core beliefs.
Better World Books of Mishawaka, Indiana has developed a model for its bookselling business that emphasizes social and environmental responsibility. Donating one book per three sold, supporting literacy organizations, as well as offering annual grants to libraries and schools are just some of their practices.
As an ideal practice, CSR efforts of any business should align with their overall branding and messaging, creating an authentic impression among stakeholders while keeping all parties fully aware of its efforts.