In the twenty-first century, customers demand more from organsations and businesses than simply to provide a product or a service. The concept of 'business for good’ is growing in its social value, requiring organisations to rethink purpose over profit. The common term used within larger organisations is Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and businesses who have a strong understanding of their ‘why’ are separating themselves from those who don’t.
The Harvard Business Review states that “Corporate Social Responsibility aligns a company’s social and environmental activities with its business purpose and values”. This article will address how businesses can leverage change within their organisation, their community and add value to their bottom line. We will explore how CSR do not have to be limited to endless giving or one-off charitable donations but can allow your business to truly stand up for what it believes in, adding not just value to your product or service but can build a whole new customer base.
The first step in the development of your organisation’s own set of Corporate Social Responsibilities is the formation of a small team of interested stakeholders from a variety of different dimensions of your business. Remember to include your customers in this team because you need to align to their values as well as your employees. Not only will a set of shared principles be refreshing for staff motivation but by communicating the journey and objective with your customers alongside via your socials or email campaigns, you’ll likely increase your customers preference in the desired future your company is working towards. Start with simple statements as a team and once you’ve developed 10-15 statements, look for their commonalities. Perhaps some statements might be generalised as “we care for our planet” or “we want to ensure transparency of our supply chain”. In creating realistic objectives and educating your employees in the process, your organisation can take a further step in aligning your core business strategies with your CSR goals.
Having arrived at a series of foundational statements your staff and customers can agree on is a great achievement. Now it is time to test the waters and see if these statements stand true to your business’ core. With the consent of your organisational leadership team, share these consolidated statements of your Corporate Social Responsibility with your wider staff and customer base and see if it resonates. It may very well be that your values are accepted but your actions or practices are questioned. That is ok and you should accept it as a sign that your customers or staff know your brand well. Now it is time to get your CSR team together and review how your organisation can do what it does as a business while holding true to these values. If your CSR revolves around “caring for the planet” but you generate a lot of unnecessary waste doing what you do, begin to review what elements are the worst offenders and start there. Before you action any changes, document your starting point, be transparent with your supporters and share the exciting journey your organisation is embarking on.
Stay tuned for Part 3 and 4 where we will explore ways in which your organisation can action your newly founded Corporate Social Responsibilities.