“If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do. For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.”- Simon Mainwaring
Being in business to report growth and profits is no longer the only reason that companies can run. The current situation – economic conditions, rapidly changing technology and increasing competition – dictate that companies must have policies, strategies and decisions that reflect thoughtfulness and favourable activities outside of its premises. This is the basis of corporate social responsibility. Many employees, customers and other stakeholders are now more willing to be associated with companies that take their corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously. A concerted effort towards has become a key differentiator for a company’s reputation and competitiveness. When like-minded people work together for social causes it reduces costs, eliminates risk, engenders better relationships and fosters an environment for innovation and creativity. Corporate social responsibility initiatives give more confidence and lend trust to a company’s stakeholders – a company that works for the greater good of the society is able to build support and goodwill for themselves, which are hugely beneficial for any business.
Corporate Social Responsibility is about raising the levels of the economy by being a responsible corporate especially in the specified field of operations of the business. Partnerships with others in the community are a great booster for companies to make things happen and better the things they have been doing. When companies know that their actions directly affect customers, employees, other stakeholders and the society they operate in, they are more mindful of their actions. No one lives or works in a vacuum and so stimulating growth and the economy around one’s lives and work further fires growth and success for one’s own company and life. For example – A neighbour desperately needed a helper in their shop. However, help was neither forthcoming nor was it cheap. This person was a great believer in giving back and would often donate at orphanages and places for the homeless. It was on one such meeting that he met this young boy who was skilled but was not gaining employment. These two people got in touch and were able to help each other out – the young boy received employment and a great employer and the neighbour found help that was loyal, trustworthy and hardworking. This is but a small example in one person’s life. Across the globe, an increasing number of companies are making the prudent decision of involving their business and making decisions that involve corporate social responsibility.
Are there really any tangible benefits of corporate social responsibility and is your company aware of them? Does your business make decisions and policies that revolve around CSR?
- The most important factor for any business is being able to build and sustain a reputation that will last for a long time and a public image that will highlight this socially aware side of the organization. Just like any other aspect of business, corporate social responsibility decisions must also get their fair share of publicity and people must be educated about the steps the company is taking towards this end. According to one study, 9 out of every 10 customers decide not to do business with a company that has no corporate social responsibility action plan. For example – One large FMCG company makes it a point to let its customers know that for every product of their company bought, they donate a small sum towards educating children of the underprivileged sections of society. Not only have the sales of the company sky-rocketed, they have also gained a great reputation of caring and giving back to society.
- If we continue with the example of the company mentioned above, what they have also gained is invaluable support from the media. Their advertisements, both for their products and the corporate social responsibility initiatives, are aired on television in prime time and across most of the popular channels. These promotions also appear on social and print media and even over the radio. In receiving such coverage, not only is their reputation as a responsible company being enhanced but also some of their flaws also get overridden by these activities. The company has placed itself firmly in the positive spotlight – that is so invaluable for any company in the current cut-throat environment.
- We have discussed previously, that a company that fosters a great work environment is able to attract and retain a powerful and happy workforce. A company that is constantly highlighted for its positive actions is one with a great public image and therefore naturally people would like to be associated with such a company. As employees remain happy, the output and productivity grows – benefiting both employer and employee
- In an earlier write-up we mentioned how companies – either from the same industry or different industries – can come together for mutually beneficial reasons. Forming such partnerships and collaborations becomes a lot easier through corporate social responsibility. Even though companies may be competitors or could be from completely unrelated fields, common CSR initiatives could bring them together such that these activities become larger, more widespread and additional resources could be pumped into them. Corporate Social Responsibility therefore is a great way to gain ‘friends’ in the industry and outside and also forge partnerships that are highly mutually beneficial for all involved.
- Corporate social responsibility also entails having a forward thinking approach and producing items, creating packaging and other such products that are sustainable and environment friendly. Without such a mind-set such innovation and creative ideas would never have seen the light of day. Companies that focus on corporate social responsibility are continually coming up with ideas that would be beneficial to society in some manner or other and such a mind-set then does not remain with one company – people follow suit as they see the many benefits of being involved with CSR activities.
- As companies look at new ways to do things, develop less costly products and packaging and also those that can be re-used / re-cycled, use less energy and energy efficient systems and other such actions – the company’s costs in the long run are drastically reduced thereby raising the profit margins and giving them an enhanced capability of providing better for their employees too.
- The reasons for a company to engage in corporate social responsibility activities are a lot different now. It may have started out as a means for a company to promote their brand and make it stand out from the crowd. Now even if that is not the primary reason, the fact is that companies that do engage in CSR activities find their brands in the limelight without much of the brouhaha that promotions, events and marketing gimmicks involve. In fact, with its corporate social responsibility activities companies have a better chance of coming into and remaining in the limelight bringing with it additional benefits.
The fact of the matter is that corporate social responsibility is not a passing fad. It is a long-term strategy that will keep any company sustained and help them to increase profits and maintain steady growth. The reasons mentioned above are not exhaustive – CSR initiatives are actually part of a well-thought out, long term plan of any company. It shifts a company’s focus from short term financial impacts to long-term sustainable financial results that would more than make up for any expenditures incurred in the present.
Indulging in corporate social responsibility activities makes a company be known as a responsible corporate citizen and this image on its own will attract the best of customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Meticulous alignment of such corporate social responsibility activities with the company’s business strategies and long-term plans will be a winning situation for all those involved.