Doing good reaps rewards for the world community, your company, customers, and employees. As businesses are increasingly held to account for their ethical and environmental stance and behaviour, it's no longer enough to just say you 'do your bit'. You have to be seen to do it as well.
Deloitte reported in their Global Human Capital Trends 2018 analysis: "Organizations are no longer assessed based only on traditional metrics such as financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, organizations today are increasingly judged on the basis of their relationships with their workers, their customers, and their communities, as well as their impact on society at large – transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises."
CSR and your employees
It matters now more than ever what your employees think of you – research proves that their opinion counts when you are trying to attract, recruit, motivate, engage and retain high-value resources.
Check out just three ways a Corporate Social Responsibility programme can add value to your employee/business relationship:
Meet employee expectations: A recent Glassdoor survey says that 75% of employees aged 18-34 expect their employer to take a stand on important CSR issues including immigration, equal rights, and climate change. 75% of US workers expect their employer to give back to groups and individuals in need in their respective communities, either through donations and/or volunteer efforts.
Be a desirable workplace: And while we're talking about Millennials and CSR, 75% say they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company (the average across other age groups is 55%). A survey by the non-profit Net Impact found that 72% of students about to enter the workforce stated that a job where they can "make an impact" was important for their happiness.
Improve employee engagement: According to Double the Donation, almost 60% of employees who are proud of their company's CSR programme are engaged at their jobs. And as we all know, more engaged employees are more productive, more innovative, and more likely to stay with the business.
CSR and your customers
While CSR makes you a more desirable employer, it comes at a cost. Yes, you need to commit money and resources. However, that doesn't need to be to your disadvantage. Rest assured, the public takes notice of what you do, and implementing meaningful CSR initiatives can have a profound impact on consumer buying decisions and brand loyalty.
Here are three ways a CSR programme can improve your customer/business relationship:
Offer a feel-good factor: Most consumers will happily pay more for products if they know part of your profit is going to a worthy cause. In fact, 55% of them will pay extra for products from companies committed to positive social impact, so 'doing good' not only differentiates your products in the market, but allows you to pass on the cost of your CSR initiatives.
Add social value as a selling driver: A 2016 Neilson survey reported that 56% of participants mentioned that "a brand being known for its social value" was a top purchasing driver. And 53% of the survey participants said "a brand with community commitment" was a leading purchasing driver.
Capture the hearts of the masses: Millennials (who by 2019 represented the largest sector of our population) are driving the market these days. Forbes contributor Sarah Landrum says that millennials prefer to do business with "corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods, and ethical business standards."
Some examples of great CSR initiatives
While many of these initiatives require levels of investment that most businesses can only dream about, they tackle a wide range of issues from pollution to social injustice.
Here are three examples of global businesses with an amazing CSR attitude:
Google: Where to begin? A quick internet search will find Google is not only trusted for its environmentally friendly initiatives but has considerable kudos because of their outspoken CEO Sundar Pichai (who stands up against social issues including President Donald Trump's anti-Muslim comments). They've committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects, own a data centre that uses 50% less energy than any other, have invested $1 billion in developing sustainable and affordable housing, and run initiatives aimed at creating affordable housing developments to help displaced and homeless people.
TOMS (We're in business to improve lives) shoes: Living up to their tagline, for the first 13 years in business, TOMS donated a pair of shoes for every pair sold, giving away almost 100,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need. Their new giving fund will dedicate at least one-third of TOMS net annual profits for ongoing donations of shoes and community and social grants. This best-foot-forward business is also a strong anti-bullying advocate and works with several non-governmental organisations and not-for-profits to set examples of ethical behaviour.
Starbucks: Looking to make sure their workforce is as diverse as their product range, Starbucks has pledged that by 2025 it will hire 25,000 veterans as part of their socially responsible efforts. They will also look to hire more younger people to "help jump-start careers by giving them their first job”. Globally, Starbucks has joined with the UN Refugee Agency to add 10,000 refugee candidates to the coffee giant's payroll by 2022.
Your Corporate Social Responsibility initiative
You may not have the resources to change the world, but it doesn't mean you can't take some small steps to do your bit. A great place to start is to drive employee engagement by asking what causes they are passionate about, so they can actively take part if they choose. You could start with picking up rubbish at local parks or beaches, collecting non-perishable donations for a local food bank, or rewarding employees for using public transport.
Some common examples of Corporate Social Responsibility include:
- Reducing your carbon footprint
- Evaluating and diversifying your labour policies
- Improving your supply chain decisions to factor in ethical treatment of workers
- Stocking Fairtrade products in your lunchroom
- Charitable fundraising
- Volunteering in the community
- Environmental policies, from office recycling to electric cars
The CSR bottom line
Committing to CSR will make a positive impact on your business, internally and externally.
It will improve employee engagement and productivity, and increase your 'desirable workplace' factor when you are hiring. It also gives you a great reason to communicate with your customer base, and in turn, drive increased sales, loyalty, and brand awareness.
All while contributing to a better, more socially responsible world.