As the world becomes more interconnected and concerned with issues that affect people worldwide, there's a real reflection of social responsibility within companies. Not only do people want to buy from businesses that are socially concerned, but they also want their employers to feel the same way.
Right now, some of the most pressing issues involve the environment and social justice, and people are increasingly looking towards companies to take an advocacy lead - whether it's their employer or a business they're shopping at.
According to a 2017 Cone CSR report, 87% of Americans say they would buy from a company based on their values, and 94% of Americans believe being a good employer as one of the most important aspects of being a responsible business. This all goes to show that having a solid, transparent, and well-communicated CSR program helps drive employee engagement, retention and loyalty as well as consumer loyalty and revenue.
Here's what you definitely need to include when you're practicing a good CSR program!
Be driven by purpose, not a product
For employers, it's easy to have a singular focus: selling your product or service. After all, the bottom line is what drives a company. However, when it comes to CSR, the driving focus needs to be on your purpose and good work rather than profit.
Of course, ensuring that you're providing a great product or service is paramount, but you need to show that you've chosen a social cause to support and that your dedication to that cause is strong. If you're having trouble finding focus, try putting together a list of core values that your company and employees should practice. This can help give you a sense of purpose as well as a strong moral center.
Go beyond giving
Payroll giving and annual fundraisers are a great idea - and always welcomed by various charities! - but there's so much more your company can be doing to show that your CSR program has value. For example, think about volunteering - there are so many local causes that could use some extra hands, whether it's sorting canned goods at a food bank or helping build a house for people in need.
Also, volunteering can be a huge motivation-booster for employees - the satisfaction they'll get from taking the time to help others increases their happiness with their job. Try to find a cause that aligns with your company, or else poll your staff to see if they have any specific charities they'd like to volunteer for.
Authentically practice social consciousness
Consumers and staff can see through phoniness a mile away. While it's a big step to announce a CSR program, you need to follow through on your promises and declarations, or else it's going to become obvious that your CSR is just lip service.
Choose your cause and core values wisely. You'll be more motivated to hold to your CSR strategy if you - and your employees, and your customers - wholeheartedly and honestly believe in what you're supporting. Practice what you preach, both in the boardroom and in your everyday life.
Transparently communicate your CSR efforts
Speaking of phoniness, it should go without saying that you'd never want to exaggerate your CSR efforts, how much your company has donated, or how many volunteer hours your employees have given. You need to be completely transparent about what your company does and how you help your chosen cause, because the truth always comes out. Not to mention the fact that not being completely honest about your efforts could even land you in trouble with the law in terms of fraud!
Be a good employer
It's a trickle-down effect: The better you are as an employer (including your CSR program and strategy), the happier your employees will be. So not only will your CSR program help cultivate more satisfied staff, but it'll help reinforce the knowledge that they're working for a company that cares about both them and larger social issues.
If you need a refresher on where to start, check out our previous blog post on best strategies for a healthy work-life balance for some tips.