“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

The above quote underlines the importance of the activities a company does or intends to do so as to build a corporate image. The importance of CSR – corporate social responsibility – needs to be understood and evaluated keeping the corporate objectives in mind. However, CSR is mostly done as stand alone, ad hoc and not aligned with what the corporate stands for or what it wants to stand for. This results in ‘feel good’ CSR with the donor feeling good but in reality, a wasted effort of opportunity, time, money and resources that could have been out to better use elsewhere to equally worthwhile, if not better causes.

A study says that consumers, workers, and investors are putting increasing pressure on American corporations to make meaningful contributions to the greater social good. Younger investors and consumers report the strongest belief in corporate responsibility, which, is not just an ethical thing to do but an expectation of most workers, investors, and consumers. 

When done correctly, good CSR can completely change the way customers view business and can bolster the company’s (and its products) image while making real impacts on the world. Everyone’s cause is different and you can choose to champion women’s rights, fight poverty on a community scale or fund a local scholarship.

Defining CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. A good CSR policy has objectives and delivers measurable outcomes in society while reflecting what the business is and what it does, reinforcing the firm’s business purpose and its core competencies

Planning CSR

CSR strategy is the comprehensive plan companies and funders use to design, execute, and analyse their initiatives. It includes specific focus areas, program design, promotion and communication approaches as well as evaluation procedures and details on how businesses can enact positive change. It’s the rapidly growing practice of aligning with socially good programs and relevant causes.

Rethink your CSR

Worldwide CSR activities can be broadly classified in three areas: Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance; however, the ‘one size fits all’ approach is not advisable and it is important to design CSR, personalising it to suit your company. Supporting initiatives to reduce environmental resources is a valuable effort in CSR but investing in local communities and creating products to ensure employee wellbeing is also equally important.

Social responsibility needs to start from within and ensuring the happiness of your workforce might be the best place to start. Being socially responsible doesn’t just mean donating to a non-profit every now and again, it means taking a look at your company’s overall impact and making positive change in as many ways as you can.

Consider core goals

Think about your business as well as the values and philosophy that you want to be associated with and build your CSR strategy.  Supporting causes that align with your company’s expertise is a great way to build trust and engagement with consumers and partners and to maximize impact. It is not that you are trying a totally new enterprise, but building an arm of your company that is already aligned, with a goal of helping the community.

Know your customers 

Consumers are now looking out for socially responsible companies and rewarding it with brand loyalty. Knowing what issues weigh heaviest on their minds, and aligning those issues with your own company’s mission will guide you toward a CSR strategy that works for everyone.

Make employees proud

Engaged employees are more likely to stay with a company, and 76% of millennials consider a company’s commitment to social and environmental responsibilities when looking for employment.  Doing good in the community means being true to your values or strengthening your brand as well as creating a healthy work culture that everyone is proud of.

Maximising CSR

CSR can be practiced in countless ways and in many forms. A huge enterprise funding global warming research and a small company donating to the local food bank are important lessons. Companies do not have to commit to grand gestures or fork out millions for honourable causes.

Impact of CSR

The important thing about CSR is building trust, raising awareness and encouraging social change. Beyond making the world a better place, CSR has been known to positively impact the recruitment and marketing side of businesses, too.

Reports say that above three-fourths of consumers and investors are willing to buy in to a company if the company demonstrates a commitment to addressing social, economic and environmental issues

The feeling of positivity about an employer’s values (and them reflected in CSR initiatives) means a higher chance of employee retention. When staff have a positive attitude towards the company they work for, they’re more likely to attach their future and success to that of the company. Inspiring CSR equals happy employees.

And having staff actively involved in CSR programs means an attractive company culture to prospective employees. Acting on your corporate social responsibility sets you apart from other companies and puts you in the best light.

SYNE is a social-impact platform that connects innovative non-profits and social enterprises to accelerate collective philanthropic impact. SYNE helps you connect with your ideal partner to create a sustainable world!

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