With Christmas closer than we think it is, Q4 marks the season of giving. With this in mind, I was wondering if all donations are positive? Some companies donate to organizations only for the publicity and “bragging rights”, whereas others genuinely align themselves with causes to make meaningful contributions. This is where the complications of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) comes into play.
Some companies have reflected on what social and environmental issues are important to them and pursue initiatives to give back to the wider community. This benefits organizations in multiple ways, particularly the potential for CSR to unite employees under a common goal. Read on to learn more about CSR and what your company and employees can gain from it.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
CSR is the notion of “an organization delivering a promise to consumers to make a change that will positively help the world and local communities.”
While the definition of CSR is clear, how it manifests can vary from company to company. CSR appears in many forms, including social activism, environmental protection, philanthropic pursuits, and volunteer activities.
What are the characteristics of a company with a strong CSR?
Businesses that practice CSR invest more in their employees and work harder to create a workplace that’s inclusive and enjoyable.
Ben & Jerry's has advocated for multiple causes throughout its existence, including creating a “Peace Pop” ice cream where 1% of proceeds went to 1% for Peace. This initiative seeks to redirect 1% of the national defense budget to fund peace-promoting activities.
TOMS has taken the approach of matching each shoe purchase with donating a pair of new shoes for a child in need. This CSR program strongly aligns with its mission of alleviating poverty and has rallied many consumers to join the cause by purchasing TOMS products.
Lastly, Google has sought to improve the world through its sustainability commitments. Its latest goal is to be the first significant company to boast carbon-free operations by 2030.
What are the benefits of CSR for an organization?
Today, most job-seekers and employees take an interest in the genuine motives and corporate values of organizations. Consumers are no longer motivated to purchase from a company that's only focused on maximizing profits.
Positive brand reputation
Assuming an organization activates CSR initiatives for the right reasons—not just to exploit community and charitable work for financial gain—it’s a great avenue to rally community. Did you know that consumers will drive nearly 11 minutes out of their way to buy a cause-marketing product? Organizations with a healthy CSR attitude are considered leaders in their industry as their campaigns seek to improve society through more than just their product or service.
Ever wondered why there are so many die-hard Patagonia fans out there? Well, Patagonia has extremely strong messaging on saving the environment. They take a stance on issues and commit to them with concrete actions. Yes, their products come at a higher cost, but customers purchase them knowing that they’re on the side of a great cause. Having a mission that people can follow and believe in inspires individuals, making them feel part of something bigger than themselves. This in turn creates pride and belonging, where customers are willing to support and stand by a collective community effort.
Employee satisfaction and attraction
Having a clear mission that connects with your employees improves company culture and increases employee morale. On top of this, having a strong CSR program or budget can help you attract talent and retain new employees.
How does CSR unite your employees?
Bob Stiller, Founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, explains the benefits reaped from a strong CSR program: “I’ve learned that people are motivated and more willing to go the extra mile to make the company successful when there’s a higher good associated with it.”
What does this mean? A vital CSR mission and goals can be the difference between your employees doing just their required tasks and putting in the extra effort to help your company grow. Your company's next great idea may come from that commitment and push of values.
The greater sense of purpose that employees gain from joining a socially conscious employer leads to increased connection, employee engagement, and performance.
Another area CSR can unite your employees is employers leading by example from shared company values, motivating employees to commit to the same things.
There’s more to CSR than feeling good—there are actual business benefits
If this wasn't enough, a recent large-scale Canadian study indicated that CSR improves your company’s bottom line! A large part of this is because you give your most engaged employees a reason to stay and grow with you. So no more hanging onto the idea that a CSR budget will only increase spending and hurt your bottom line.
Gone are the days where a company could be successful without considering the environmental, social, and political effects of their work. Companies need to consider all parties and initiatives involved and ensure they’re leaving the world in a better place than they found it. By having a strong CSR focus, your employees will rally together, and your organization will reap the benefits of this.
Check out the 10 ways to cultivate corporate culture along with CSR.