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In this fast-paced world of meeting deadlines, quotas and targets, one facet of business that can easily get overlooked is corporate social responsibility. (For reference in this article, the corporate responsibility acronym, Cr, from the Uptime® Elements will be used.) It’s a corporation’s initiative to take responsibility for the environmental and social well-being of the world. Cr generally applies to efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.

In a world full of corporations trying to get ahead, there’s a social movement toward doing good. Despite tabloids and the entertainment industry portraying the villain of the story as the one who wins, society is actually leaning more and more toward ensuring that the nice guy finishes on top.

Cr has become a major decision point in the purchasing habits of your customers and clients. They want you to care about what they care about and if you don’t seem to care about anything, there’s backlash in terms of spending. They’ll simply spend their money elsewhere.

Millennials are a wonderful example in showing the importance of Cr for a company. Eighty-five percent of millennials say a company’s social responsibility affects where they shop and buy, and 75 percent of them even donated to a cause within the last year. Before you sneer at the word “millennial,” remember that millennials spend over $200 billion a year, making them a powerhouse in the market. “Participation economy” is something millennials like to witness in the businesses with which they interact.1 A stellar example of participation economy is TOMS® shoes, which built its entire business model around social responsibility by matching “every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need.” Millennials came running.

The real reason for committing to corporate social responsibility is you’ll be helping others. (Your company’s bottom line will thank you, too).

Global consumers are keen on Cr, too. Fifty-five percent of global online consumers pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.2

Why are community affairs on a local, regional, national, or even international level an important step in ensuring business viability? Because people expect it. It’s almost an unspoken moral code within society. The bigger your company gets, the more you’re counted on to give back. Consumers want to do business with those companies that are doing good, giving back and enhancing society or the environment.

Aside from attracting more business to your company, there are great benefits to incorporating Cr that go beyond cash value. Common results in companies that put an effort into their Cr include:

  • Higher staff engagement;
  • Enhanced reputation;
  • Competitive advantage among competitors;
  • Reduced marketing costs.3

A business can get started on implementing a Cr strategy by first looking at its mission statement. This will often point the way to various nonprofits/charities that align with the statement and lead to a natural progression of aid and support.

Do market research on your clients to find out what they consider to be worthy causes. Anything your clients support will create goodwill if you support it, too, but you must also believe in the cause and legitimately get behind it. Publicize everything you do and grow the human side of your business.

Another approach is surveying your employees to see what they’re passionate about—it could be animals, children, the local cancer drive, etc. Inspiring employee involvement is one of the best financially viable actions you can take. This has been proven to increase employee morale, which, in turn, leads to improved customer service, finally culminating in positive brand strength. And, again, publicize everything you do—even highlighting your employees in the press goes a long way toward making Cr everyone’s game.

You can—and should—promote your Cr initiatives via the media. Helping those in need has always been something the media supports and third-party credibility is the acceptable way to promote your good works. But don’t forget to also publish your efforts in your own company newsletter. Make it about who you’re helping, not about you helping them. Make whomever you’re helping the hero of your story, otherwise, your good works can take on a self-serving tone. People will always see through non-genuine communication.

While any industry can benefit from Cr programs, certain industries can benefit substantially from such efforts. Any industry where there’s a lot of public distrust, low employee engagement and/or high turnover, or reliance on public opinion for their existence can best reap the benefits of Cr programs.

Corporate social responsibility activities strike a chord in the heart of what makes people tick—their ability to help. Those who help are those who lead the human race. Businesses that truly help and then publicize those good works are those businesses that do better than others. It’s like business karma and it’s a growing trend in the marketplace.

References

  1. Garton, Christie. “You Must Do Good for Your Brand to Do Well With Millennials.” Entrepreneur Magazine, September 10, 2014; Web: June 25, 2016.
  2. Nielsen Press Room. ”Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When It Comes to Goods and Services From Companies Committed to Social Responsibility.” Nielsen, June 17, 2014; Web: June 25, 2016.
  3. McPhee, Lindsay. “6 Business Benefits of Supporting Community Projects.” Traction News, June 21, 2016; Web: June 25, 2016.

Karla Jo Helms

Karla Jo Helms, is Chief Evangelist and Anti-PR Strategist for JoTo PR. Helms speaks globally on public relations, how the PR industry itself has lost its way and how, in the right hands, corporations can harness the power of PR to drive markets and impact market perception. www.jotopr.com

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