Building your Business through CSR

“Cost-effective, attractive to business partners, environmentally friendly, easy access to a wide range of guidance and support – it makes good business sense to implement and maintain a robust and effective environmental management system” – Elliot Morley

Making a good impression on customers is imperative for the success of any company. Amongst the top ways to do so is by adopting corporate social responsibility practices (CSR) as part of the company’s culture. Customers prefer companies that have structured and visible CSR practices. Building business through CSR is now one of the most effective methods and companies are fast recognizing this as a competitive advantage. The perception around building business through CSR is a company’s commitment to think beyond profits and emphasizes their dedication to serve the larger community, the environment and provide eco-friendly and cost effective products to their customers. Customers feel more comfortable and warm towards a company that displays such empathy and care.

Companies are able to build business through CSR primarily in two ways – by both donating funds and resources for social causes or undertaking activities within the organization by which their employees can work for charitable causes. The other way in the CSR direction is by creating products and or services that are in the interest of the environment and society. Companies focus on ensuring they use safe materials, environmentally sustainable packaging, products that use less energy to manufacture, create jobs and overall lend a ‘helping hand’ to the community. Building business through CSR becomes possible as it shows the company’s commitment toward social causes – for example – one of the largest store chains ‘adopts’ a school or a section of the underprivileged in society and donates a range of things necessary for everyday use. It has also made it mandatory for its employees to dedicate a set number of hours in the year in volunteering for CSR activities within the company. In addition, employees can also take time off for undertaking charitable activities over and above the company’s initiatives.

People all over the world are lending more support to building community and saving the environment and this in turn bodes well for companies that have CSR built in to their company’s strategies and culture. A report released last year that building business through CSR was never as real as it is now. The report revealed that the companies with a committed CSR program reported over 4% growth as compared to less than 1% for those that did not have a CSR program. Customers too understand the value of creating sustainable products through environment friendly processes and contributing and ‘giving back’ to society. The same report revealed that customers preferred companies using natural ingredients and those products that were not harmful to the health of the environment. At least 66% of people surveyed accepted that they would be willing to pay more for products that were environmentally friendly.  The customers (at least 62%) also said that they tend to trust a brand more that displays such commitment.

Building business through CSR is about creating trust and enhancing the company’s reputation. Companies with a sound reputation in this area are more likely – to be respected, their products sought after by customers, a better perception of their customer service and find it easier to attract investors, shareholders and the best talent in the market. These claims are backed by solid statistics (as revealed by the report) – environmental sensitivity was voted for by at least 45% of customers, social value received 43% votes and passion toward building the community received 41% thumbs up. Actual sale numbers further backed these statistics – customers are true to their words. From the total sales around the globe, 65% came from brands and companies that had visible and proven commitment to CSR activities in any direction. Companies can enhance their business and trust levels with customers by consistently introducing sustainable products and carrying out community building activities. Irrespective of the size of the company – if they ignore such activities they would find themselves damaging their reputation and business. This is turn bodes well for new companies that ride on this trend and are able to impress the socially aware customers and who would much rather do business with a company whose values aligned to their own. In addition, the companies that create products and use energy efficient methods to manufacture can further enhance their reputation using organic / all natural ingredients for their products. The view about such products is that they are healthy and thus have the ability to attract more customers and encourage repeat buys.

Building business through CSR becomes a lot easier since efforts in this direction create support and enhanced positivity for the company. Anyone in business would understand that such an image is the cornerstone of success and amongst the top assets of a company. Great customer service also flows naturally since the company would have an overall culture of empathy and care. Building business through CSR is a potent strategy and when managed meticulously it has the ability to open up new avenues, customer relationships and attract the best resources in the market.

Employees too, tend to stay longer with a company that displays empathy and can be trusted. People are happy to make a positive impact in the lives of others and if it brings recognition, a good job and a stable career, it makes this activity even more engaging. Companies with established CSR practices have enhanced employee dedication, commitment, work quality, higher productivity and loyalty. It is a known fact that attracting and hiring top talent is an arduous task and employee attrition is amongst the costliest activities for any company. Therefore, it makes good business sense to weave CSR in the overall framework of your company.

Building business through CSR is among the top differentiators in a market teeming with companies and products.  Customers are more easily attracted to companies that display this CSR commitment and consistently engage in activities that help the environment and society. Companies with CSR as a strategy are encouraged to think creatively and design products that are consistently good and distinct – reasons enough for customers to be attracted to such companies. As mentioned above, the reputation of the company also affects the perception other important players in the market have of it. These key players are investors, lenders and other financers, who view the company’s commitment to CSR as a sign of strength, longevity and great management. The support and image of such high profile people adds further power, intensity and robustness to a company.

The other upside for a company that helps them build business through CSR is that such activities bring down its costs. Using recycled products, ensuring that everyone within the company saves natural and perishable resources such as water, paper and electricity, increasing efficiency within the company by using energy saving lighting, using natural light, buying recycled products such as stationery and other such initiatives contribute to huge savings for a company. These savings can, in turn be used to make better products, provide better dividends to shareholders, pay salaries and benefits that are more competitive and increase the profit margin.

Not only is building business through CSR easier, these activities gain many more advantages for a company that have the potential to reach the pinnacle of success faster than they perceived possible.

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