Make CSR a Priority
By Jelisa Jones
A recent online article noted the many benefits of engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is the voluntary decision by an organization to be actively involved in their community. Many organizations are adding CSR initiatives as an afterthought because owners and leaders are focused on financial growth, rather than social initiatives. However, this article suggests it is possible to focus on both, and in fact, research shows that doing both offers many benefits. These benefits reach both the community and the organization. Even if you are leading a small start-up, building CSR into your organization and laying the foundation for community involvement may prove beneficial.
Research has identified numerous benefits for organizations having an active role in society. One major benefit is the facilitation of a brand strategy. Customers want to support organizations that express concern for the welfare and development of the community – specifically, environmental sustainability and human rights. This has been recognized by many business leaders. For instance, the former CEO of Shell Corporation stated, “Successful companies are those that integrate the personal values of the customers’ employee’s and the business. People want to support organizations that contribute to society, share the same values, and where their actions count and their views matter.”
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Additionally, organizations that engage in CSR have more positive reputations in the community, higher consumer preferences, more creative and satisfied employees, and higher financial performance. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved! For example, one survey found that consumers were willing to pay more for goods that reflect a commitment to CSR programs, and that newer generations accounted for a vast majority of the consumers most attuned with supporting organizations with CSR practices. Even potential stock buyers are interested in an organizations’ CSR initiatives!
Proctor & Gamble provide a great example of CSR as they have CSR initiatives for all parties involved in their business - consumers, employees, suppliers, community, and investors. Some of their CSR initiatives in the community include developing recyclable bottles for shampoo, building wind farms for renewable energy use at their sites, using plant based ingredients in detergent, and pursuing alternatives to animal testing for skin care products.
Currently, it is unclear which CSR approaches have the most positive impact, so organizations are advised to embrace creativity and experimentation in developing CSR models for their organization. When brainstorming how to embed social initiatives into an organization, the Huffington Post article lists five important steps that should be considered. We highlight three:
CSR programs should be considered a priority alongside performance during the beginning of an organization, not as an afterthought. No matter how big or small your social initiative, organizations big and small may positively influence the community while building a reputation for CSR that may positively impact the organization’s bottom line.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.