In recent years, consumers have become more conscious of their purchases’ impacts on the environment and society. As a result, they are more likely to support companies with a positive social and environmental impact. This has made corporate social responsibility an essential aspect of modern business practices. Having a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program can bring more benefits than just enhancing a company's reputation. It can also lead to increased employee engagement, customer loyalty, and even financial gains.
Having goals and a vision for your company that go beyond products and profits provides a warmer image of your business that consumers will be more eager to engage with. However, creating an effective corporate social responsibility program requires a comprehensive understanding of a company's values, stakeholders, and societal impact. In this blog, we'll explore the importance of corporate social responsibility for your business and the steps to take to build a successful corporate social responsibility program.
Two Types of Corporate Social Responsibility
If your business wants to make a real impact on society, it's important to know about the two types of corporate social responsibility. Let’s take a look at their differences.
External Corporate Social Responsibility
This type focuses on a company's impact on society and the environment beyond its own operations. For example, corporations provide funding and resources for worthwhile social causes, such as donating money and resources or employee time to charities and fundraising events. For many people, this is the definition used when thinking about corporate responsibility.
Internal Corporate Social Responsibility
This type focuses on the social and environmental impacts of a company's internal operations, which involves putting together a real plan to produce products or provide services that are in the best interests of society. These include using safe materials in design and manufacturing, corporate environmental initiatives, and internal opportunities such as job creation and increasing diversity and inclusion.
Why is Corporate Social Responsibility Important?
Corporate social responsibility has the potential to change not only a business, but its employees, their families, and the world around them, for the better. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why brands should consider creating their own corporate social responsibility program:
Showing True Commitment
The most successful corporate social responsibility programs integrate the two types of corporate social responsibility together to show a true commitment to a cause. For example, a company that uses sustainable materials in their products donates financial resources to environmental causes, and allows employees to take paid time off to volunteer at environmental charities would be showing a genuine commitment to the environment that goes beyond any single corporate social responsibility initiative.
Social Media Visibility
In today's society, where social media is ubiquitous, implementing visible corporate social responsibility campaigns can increase engagement and visibility on social media platforms. For example, when a corporation exercises social responsibility in the form of fundraising or setting up employee giving programs, using social media to promote these actions helps to create a positive branding environment, and it's a great way to engage with your audience on a deeper level that goes beyond your products or services.
Improving Public Relations
Public relations are a potent tool for shaping consumer perception and building a brand’s image. Corporations that actively promote their social responsibility activities often take extra steps to publicize these efforts through different platforms like media. While promoting corporate donations, employee volunteer programs, and other corporate social responsibility initiatives can be an effective branding strategy to gain publicity through various media channels.
Boosting Government Relations
Corporations that emphasize corporate social responsibility typically have an easier experience when dealing with authorities and government regulators. In contrast, businesses with a reckless disregard for social responsibility tend to fend off various inquiries and probes, often brought on at the insistence of public service organizations. Moreover, the more positive the public perception is that a corporation takes social responsibility seriously, the less likely it is that activist groups will launch public campaigns and urge the government into the matter.
Building a Positive Workplace Environment
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of promoting social responsibility is the positive environment you build for your employees. When employees and management feel they are working for a company with a true conscience, they will likely be more enthusiastic and engaged. This can build a sense of community and teamwork, which brings everyone together and leads to happier, more productive employees.
Companies that have a clear purpose tend to perform better in times of uncertainty. Most executives understand the importance of having a purpose to guide their companies through challenging situations. Purpose helps companies focus on what matters most, stay true to their values, and make decisions that align with their long-term goals. By prioritizing purpose, executives can create a more resilient and sustainable business that can weather the storms of an unpredictable environment.
Customer Retention and Loyalty
As consumers become more socially conscious, businesses that prioritize social responsibility can earn loyalty and improve retention rates. Customers are often drawn to companies that align with their own values and beliefs, and a socially responsible initiative can demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact. This can ultimately lead to increased customer satisfaction, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
What are the Steps to Creating a Corporate Social Responsibility Program?
It can be overwhelming to set up a new corporate social responsibility program. But, the process can be broken down into three simple steps based on general best practices and what has worked well for other companies. At FrontStream, we’ve found that breaking the process down into three stages is a great way to segment the daunting task of corporate social responsibility into something much more manageable. So, Let’s look at the three simple steps to consider:
Step 1: Conceive and Initiate
A corporate social responsibility program is never one-size-fits-all. While crafting a program, it is important to keep the Three Pillars of Sustainability at the forefront: People, Planet, and Profit. Create opportunities and multiple ways for employees and other stakeholders to engage with the program. Incorporate opportunities across a broad spectrum of engagement, including volunteer days, traditional giving, recycling events, peer-to-peer fundraising, and disaster assistance.
Consider taking your corporate social responsibility program a step further and incorporating cause marketing into the program. Integrate your company’s products within the program, and take this as an opportunity to initiate commitments to supply chains and production processes. Consider where and how it makes sense for your company to make socially responsible and environmentally impactful investments and how to involve your company’s employees and leadership in that investment.
Step 2: Commit and Implement
Once the concept and details of the corporate social responsibility program have been determined, it’s up to you to prove its value in terms of triple-bottom-line results for your company. This requires assessing and measuring your program’s impact through metric evaluation. Also, you should develop a link between your social responsibility program and your company’s business results. Then assess how your cause-driven program impacts your company’s sales, customer satisfaction, employee and brand loyalty, and market access. Finally, in building corporate social responsibility programs, it is crucial to determine if your program positively impacts the company's reputation and overall profitability.
Step 3: Communicate and Inspire
For any corporate program to succeed, the program needs endorsement and acceptance from the top management. Therefore, communicating the impact and successes of your program to the maximum levels of your organization is critical. You can do this by frequently sharing about your program’s progress and accomplishments and also the program’s impact on your company’s triple bottom line.
It is also worth considering to convince leadership initiatives to inspire employees and other stakeholders to make “cause” a priority and encourage employees to participate and get each other involved. Also, tracking and sharing program outcomes and impact with your employees, customers, community members, and program beneficiaries can help your program gain recognition, loyalty, and momentum. Remember, the success of the program is all about inspiration and participation.
Launch an Effective Corporate Social Responsibility Program with FrontStream
Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly important for companies as consumers demand more socially responsible practices. Although launching an effective corporate social responsibility program involves a lot of moving pieces, FrontStream makes it easier than ever for businesses to create impactful programs that align with their values and goals.
FrontStream offers a range of digital solutions for organizations, including donation and volunteer management software, employee giving programs, and fundraising tools. By partnering with FrontStream, you can positively impact your community while enhancing your brand reputation and employee engagement. Request a demo today to learn more!