When we talk about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) we are going beyond the corporate sponsorship of a charity golf tournament or sponsoring a sports team. Being socially responsible is about making alliances and partnerships with existing social agencies so that deeper social issues can be addressed. Strategically aligning your organization with agencies to deliver social change is more than brand positioning. It’s a way for your company to exercise its values and mission in tangible ways. If part of your company’s mission statement is to “deliver the highest quality customer service” or to “be the best in the eyes of the customers and shareholders,” then part of fulfilling that mission is to invest in communities that your employees and shareholders live in.
When corporations visibly invest in their communities, those companies become a place where people want to work. When agents are engaged with an employer that gives back, they feel that they are part of contributing to a better community. Companies that value their employees as individuals and community members are more likely to enjoy less attrition, loyalty, and enthusiasm from its employees which ultimately yields higher customer satisfaction. Beyond creating a more productive work environment, being socially responsible is also what customers expect. There are many companies that have taken the lead in CSR practices, including TATAs, ICICI, Larsen & Tubro. In today’s highly competitive environment, being known as a company that works to improve its communities will help set you apart from your competitors. In a study released by ITI a few years back, the authors found that when companies take social responsibility seriously, they enjoy competitive advantages, higher brand recognition and reputation and lower employee attrition.
There has been some pushback from consumers when they feel that a company is flaunting it's CSR practices for marketing purposes without offering tangible results. The phrase “green washing” came about when consumers discovered that companies were creating slick campaigns regarding their environmental footprint, when in reality their messaging didn’t match their efforts or results. For CSR to be taken seriously by consumers and employees it needs to be an honest extension of your company’s values. Developing a CSR ethic isn’t about marketing, it’s about investing in the greater good for your employees, customers and communities. It takes time, commitment and buy-in from all stakeholders and it needs to be woven throughout the company culture to be fully implemented. TATAs have seen great success with its CSR initiatives and have seen the positive effects throughout its global offices regarding higher morale, less employee turnover, and better customer service delivery..
Consumers are increasingly looking to CSR as a deciding factor of doing business with a company. They are savvy and can sniff out phony marketing regarding CSR practices, so being honest is paramount. While marketing plays an important role in developing messaging regarding your company’s CSR practices, it is not responsible for it's development and implementation. In order for your CSR actions to be taken seriously by employees and consumers, there needs to be clear messaging about your practices and buy-in from all stakeholders. The benefits to being corporate social stewards are clear: happier employees and more satisfied customers. Incorporating CSR strategies into your operations is a win-win and will deliver long-term benefits that boost the bottom line while also enhancing the communities you serve.
One of the greatest benefits of corporations adopting CSR is that they have a far greater capacity to leverage change than an individual. While each of us can make changes in our lives to promote our own financial, social, and environmental health, corporations can do so on a global scale. Consider a behemoth like Walmart, for example, whose adoption of supply chain sustainability has led to industry wide shifts as their suppliers begin to adopt their own sustainable practices.
In the blink of an eye, a corporation can take advantage of new trends or technology and make a significant impact.
Increased social pressures have meant that more and more companies are moving toward CSR. This is not a trend that shows any signs of slowing down; in fact, corporate sustainability reporting has increased significantly in past years.
Historically, companies that have been late adopters of market change have found themselves lagging behind and in a position of lost market share. By adopting CSR, companies can take advantage of the green economy wave:
- Potentially attracting new customers
- Limiting decisions that could have a poor social impact
- Reducing repercussions for a company’s brand or reputation
CSR is also gaining momentum among stakeholders. One of the primary reasons companies may choose to begin a CSR program is to attract new investors, many of whom are looking for companies who have a more attractive social and environmental position.
At Education India Topper, we work with you to help measure, manage, and improve your CSR. Talk with one of our business development consultants today to see how we can assist you in developing and reporting your CSR program.