What is corporate social responsibility? Practically speaking, when businesses try to impact positively on their community and stakeholders – in addition to the services they offer – that’s corporate social responsibility in practice. Some see it as a tactical afterthought to the real work of doing business. Some see it as a distraction or even a diversion from the ultimate goal of a company, to deliver a profit, and that corporate social responsibility adds cost, and any benefits are can be hard to measure.
Others think differently. For them, the question is, ‘can you afford not to do it?’ Some business owners feel they have a moral duty to give something back to society. As a good citizen you can make a difference. Why should it be different for businesses? After all, you don’t leave your principles at the door when you enter the corporate world. Or you shouldn’t.
A business does well, by doing good. Here are four reasons you should build corporate social responsibility into your strategy:
1. It requires you to look up and look out. You become more aware of the social environment where your business operates. That can be highly beneficial. Your key stakeholders are out there – your suppliers, your customers, your regulators and your competitors. Getting out there will help you to communicate better and increase your ability to spot new growth opportunities.
2. You can engage in ‘virtue signalling’ – not just doing good but demonstrating you’re doing good. Your reputation can be your greatest asset, not to mention that warm glow you’ll get from helping others. Your good deeds can feature on your in-house publications, your site and can generate publicity in the press.
3. Every business needs a USP. An ethical makeover for your products can provide this. Think about the ways that corporate social responsibility might distinguish your products from those of the competition. The way you source, manufacture and dispose of your products could make you the ‘first mover’ in your sector, and ensure you stand out.
4. People want to work for ethical businesses. If your employees feel they’re part of something that’s working for the greater good, they’ll be better motivated and more invested in your jobs. You can involve your employees in your choice of corporate social responsibility projects to make their engagement more meaningful.
The journey to corporate social responsibility can broaden your company’s horizons. Good businesses like working with other good businesses. The recognition that you’re in the ethical club will enhance your B2B opportunities. You can signal this to other companies via ‘kite-marking’ – an official endorsement from the increasing number of bodies happy to approve your practices.
Of course, all of this depends on how you implement your corporate social responsibility strategy. There are no hard and fast rules – only that that the policy should reflect your overall strategy and values.
You could stay local, and build deeper roots into your community, which makes sense if you serve a local market. You could tie your corporate social responsibility to your product range. That might work for an IT company, for example, that runs a scheme to help young people pick up computing skills.
There’s no shame in getting the maximum traction from the minimum expenditure. After all – although you might end up supporting a charity – at the end of the day, you’re still a business.
Around the world, Four put people at the heart of every business. That’s key to corporate social responsibility. To find out more about what we can offer you, simply give us a call on 0800 6250 025.