Today’s consumers rank corporate social responsibility, or CSR, as an important part of their decision-making process. Why is that the case? And, more importantly, how can you make CSR a more prominent part of your company’s culture?
Examining Corporate Social Responsibility
First things first: let’s examine what corporate social responsibility means. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, CSR refers to:“A continuing commitment by a business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development, while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large.”
Customers, especially younger Millennial and Gen-Z individuals, are willing to do more business with companies who embrace causes they care about. That’s why acting on CSR not only makes the world a better place, it also makes good business sense.
CSR builds positive feelings towards your brand, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of greater customer loyalty. But that begs the question: “how can we have the biggest impact?” Try asking yourself the following:
1. Define Your Goals: This shouldn’t be just a top-down decision; instead, let everyone at the company voice an opinion on how the company can leave an impact.
2. Embrace Your Strengths: Different roles and practices can work better for different business models. Try playing to your business’s specialties.
3. Allocate Time Effectively: Once you’ve defined a goal, conduct necessary research so your energy is used to the greatest impact.
How to Incorporate CSR into Your Business
TOMS® shoes were made famous by their business model: for each pair of shoes sold, they donate an identical pair to an individual in the developing world who needs them. Corporate social responsibility was baked-in to their business.
Other organizations build entirely-separate entities to serve their CSR goals. That’s a lot of upfront work, but there are plenty of other ways to incorporate easily-manageable CSR principles into an existing business. Looking for some inspiration? Here are just a few ideas you can consider:
Dollar-for-Dollar Matching: This method sets out the understanding that your organization will donate one dollar for each one donated by others. This is an easy way to throw your support behind an important social cause without the need to build up much additional infrastructure.
Pro-Bono Services: Many organizations have services they can offer for free to help improve conditions for others. Medical professionals, for example, can open a monthly free clinic in an underserved neighborhood, or STEM professionals can host camps to get kids interested in math and science.
Volunteering: Ask everyone in your organization to chip in just a few hours on a group project. You can build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or donate time at a local food bank. Just three or four hours from everyone at an organization can mean hundreds of hours of invaluable effort.
Support Activism in the Organization: Some businesses offer paid time-off for employees to volunteer. Just a day or two each quarter, with proper documentation provided to HR, can be enough. As an added bonus, this can also do wonders for employee sentiment within the organization.